Yale Press drops distinctive logo

No caption.
No caption. Photo by YDN.

Readers of Jytte Klausen’s “The Cartoons that Shook the World,” which was officially released by the Yale University Press on Monday, may find that the 2005 Danish cartoons are not the only element absent from the book.

The Yale University Press began phasing out its distinctive logo, designed in 1985 by acclaimed graphic designer and former School of Art emeritus professor Paul Rand, in books published this fall, Yale University Press Director John Donatich said. And while it has not yet removed the logo from its Web site, the Press will now feature the word “Yale” in the University’s official typeface along the spines of new books — in what observers described as an effort to bring Yale and the press closer together.

The two organizations, which have “complementary missions,” may be trying to bring together paths that have diverged in recent years, University Printer John Gambell said. Although Gambell said he was fond of Rand’s logo, he added that the design had plenty of critics.

“A lot of people didn’t like it,” Gambell said. “A lot of people found it kind of asymmetrical and untraditional and kind of a little bit hard to decode.”

Rand, who taught at Yale for almost 30 years and died of cancer in 1996, was particularly well-known for his work on corporate logos, including those of ABC, IBM and UPS.

The striking design was typical of Rand’s style, said Michael Bierut, a senior critic of graphic design at the School of Art.

“I would not call it awkward as much as idiosyncratic,” Bierut said. “At this stage of the game, it has appeared on so many books — so many good books — that in and of itself it has transcended its original formal qualities, and it stands in the minds of the people just for the Yale Press.”

At the same time, discarding the logo in order to merge the identities of the University and the press may be a successful strategy, Bierut said, especially since he said he believes Rand’s original intentions were to clearly distinguish the two organizations.

Jessica Helfand ’82 ART ’89, who was advised on her graduate thesis by Rand, said that while she personally is not a fan of the logo, she recognizes its significance as a symbol of Rand himself.

“It is quintessential Rand,” said Helfand, now a senior critic of graphic design at the School of Art. “He was the king of geometry. It was the science by which he made his decisions, and it was very evident in his teachings.”

Helfand said those teachings, which were grounded in an a principles-based approach, were remarkable in the young field of graphic design during the 1950s and 1960s.

When asked how Rand would feel about his logo being phased out, Helfand quipped, “He would feel fine — as long as he was hired to design the new one.”


  • Recent Alum

    Which politically correct constituency was offended by the logo, one wonders? lol

  • Yale ’05

    I’m all for the Yale typeface and continuity, but this is ridiculous. Another brilliant idea from John Gambell, just like plastering those horrendous blue plaques all over campus.

  • design critic

    Good move. That old logo always reeked of the 60s and said nothing about the press or its books.

  • David H.

    This is a sad day for Yale and the world of graphic design. The new “design” is generic and says nothing about Yale, other than they are ordinary. The Rand design is distinctive and adds value to the brand via it’s sophisticated appearance. If there is a bright side, at least Yale avoided the cliche swoosh and fake sheen employed by UPS in their design “update”.

  • grad ’04,’10

    What a shame! I always liked the logo. Self-contained, slightly obscure, and with a slight flavor of the sixties as it is. It also reminds me of an intricate cattle brand…..all these are good things!

    The move to the boring, generic and corporate looking “Yale” logo diminishes the press and its cachet in my eyes.

  • The Contrarian

    Since it wasn’t designed by a Black, half-Jew/half Muslim woman-in-a-wheelchair, it just HAD to go.

  • Gavin Shinfield

    I’d like to see the new design in context but it does look somewhat bland by comparison.

  • lee newham

    The old logo looked like something from the 1960’s. It’s not a great logo but was distinctive and recognizable. Personally I like the retro feel. The new one is just a bit of type. I can’t even bring myself to call it a logo. Is Yale boring? Is Yale safe? Is Yale about going with the flow, not innovating, not creating students who stand out from the crowd?

    If the answer is yes it’s perfect.

  • Jack Pate


  • designer

    You changed a Paul Rand logo? I hope you don’t have any Monet’s on campus…

  • Hillerns

    Rand’s Yale Press logo was one of my very favorites. And it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it was Paul Rand who designed the mark. Given Bierut’s relationship with the university, his comments about the underlying strategy are certainly understandable. But I have a hard time believing that he, himself, believes it.

  • Chris

    By design critic,

    Now the logo reeks of the 90s and says nothing about the press or its books.

    Much better.

  • GSAS Alum

    Bad decision! Not that I had any real attachment to the old logo, but I can’t stand the corporate branding of the university under Levin and co.

  • JanDW

    “A lot of people found it kind of asymmetrical and untraditional”

    Only symmetry and tradition is acceptible. Got it. Don’t want to confuse people with such daring concepts as asymmetry.

  • anonymous

    It’s worth reiterating that the “new” logo has been in use by the university for several. Matthew Carter designed the Yale typeface and logo in 2004, using Bembo and his own Galliard as models.


  • LK

    Wow, what a regrettable mistake.

    Going from unique and classic to bland and boring.

    You switched out a Rand logo that stood out for the word Yale typeset in Adobe Garamond Premier. Really? You serious?

  • Goldie ’08

    Don’t worry…I’d wager that we haven’t seen the last of this logo. Of course from now on it will only be available on $25 t shirts from the book store.

  • nonplussed in NY

    What’s all the fuss about?

    I never liked that logo.

    First, it’s totally illegible. The type is too thin, and of course it’s all over the place. You can barely tell it says Yale.

    Second, it seems to be trying to put something across stylistically, but I can’t tell what. In other words, whatever its message is, I’m not getting it.

    It’s too rigorous to be 60s. It is indeed highly geometric.

    It’s also bouncy, quirky, and unbalanced.

    Is it trying for some sort of diversity-within-community message? Energy within the circle?

    If it’s a Texas-style cattle brand, then it’s a mark of ownership and is making an illegitimate claim.

    So I guess I never got the point.

    Good riddance.

  • DS

    Everyone involved in this redesign is an idiot… shame, damn shame…


    The old one was… how do you say this politely… ugly? schlocky?

    yeah. I don’t care who designed it. Saarinen made some mistakes in his life too.

  • MC12

    I bet the same people over at the Yale Press who would get rid of a lovely and distinctive Rand logo would also rip down Morse and Stiles…and that makes me sad…

  • Eric


  • shaman

    It was unique, and designed by someone of importance in the Yale community. A quarter-century tradition is thrown away, and replaced with corporatism. Just one more sign of the apocalypse.

  • EuniceO

    Rand’s solution is a modern expression of an archaic press stamp. The replacement is an ersatz expression of the archaic. The drive to regress and embrace the new mark may be rooted in a general decline of visual literacy.

  • Y’11

    It was an ugly remnant of the 60s. Also hard to read. Unlike Morse and Stiles, it was easy to get rid of. Not at all sad to see it go

  • Alex Knowlton

    So now you’ve got to change the logo and favicon for this site, right? Bummer. As with most brand refreshes, it just seems like a waste. Maybe Peter Arnell could come up with a new Yale identity that will help build the brand and get more customers, and that would help cover his fee!

    It’s Yale. The marks and type styles don’t matter–There have been hundreds, already. It’s all in the name.

    I liked the distinctive and familiar Rand logo but it seems “a lot of people” were having a terrible struggle with its lack of symmetry and cryptic symbols that don’t spell anything. I just hope no one from that confounded, opinionated lot admits to going to Yale. It would hurt the brand.

  • Hieronymus

    @#1: Very funny!

    I didn’t really care about the logo, but now that it is gone, I miss it (and the new one is about as boring as boring could be–it implies, to me, that Yale Press either A) doesn’t give a flyin’, or B)is running low on cash…)

  • Emerson

    As a graphic designer who respected the work of Paul Rand, I find this sad. The distinctiveness is now gone, and it’s just another generic mark.

  • kjl


    The “ugly remnant” is from the 1980s (read article)…likely the era in which you were born…

  • jrj073000

    This is like a flashback to Apple circa 1984…http://adwido.com/view_content?vkey=2f7f7c328eeb8af3b1df21fdf2b00e88

  • reader

    Ugly old logo. It looked really cheap and childish in its geometry, and it never matched the content of the books.

    On the other hand the new logo suggests a merge with the same corporate propaganda press that publishes the Yale Bulletin.

  • World Citizen

    They should have replaced the ’60’s logo with the cartoon of the prophet Muhammad’s head as a bomb.

  • Elmas

    First of all, Yale is Yale, no matter what logo you use, but this new “logo”, how can I put it… sucks. It could say “New Haven Community College”, or even, dear God, “Harvard” and no one would notice the difference. If you try writing “harvard” in the old logo style, it would still say “Yale”.

    Who made this lame decision? Is there a new person in charge of Yale’s “marketing” who wanted to make his presence known somehow?

    Ok dude. Point taken. We know you exist. Now, bring the old logo back please.

    Michael Bierut, where are you? Help!

  • TP

    What a shame — the old logo was distinctive and memorable. The officialt Yale typeface is fine for, well, typing. It is not good enough to make a logo or stand for something as great as Yale.

  • watcher

    Why care whether Paul Rand did it? If it doesn’t work, he failed. Naming the designer won’t fix that any more than chanting “Saarinen Saarinen Saarinen” makes it easier to arrange your furniture in Morse or Stiles.

  • RK

    Obviously it’s not the Yale University Press any more, it’s now Yale University’s press.

  • Luke Lux

    Yeah, It’s easy to understand now.

    So, you can read it and then throw away. It has not meaning!

    The Chinese store located two block from my house use the same font. Congratulations! and welcome to the generic world.

  • non-Yalie

    To 36: Was there ever a difference between “the Yale University Press” and “Yale University’s press”?

    Or a distinction between those two concepts?

    Perhaps some distinction along these lines matters in the academic-press world.

    To the rest of us? Not so much.

  • jo

    You call that a logo? It’s simply “Yale” typed out and a bad font choice.

    If your gonna throw out a logo by one of history’s greatest graphic designer at least make some attempt to improve on it.

    How long did it take to scroll through every font in the library and finally choose that one? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? Did they even bother kerning?

  • Paulnonymous

    How long before that Yale typeface gets rendered in Times? Or, better yet, Times Bold?

  • Type Choice

    @#39 and others: It’s a legitimate opinion not to like the Press phasing out Rand’s logo, but let’s please remember that they’re not just “scroll[ing] through every font in the library.” The new logo, like the University’s, is set in the Yale typeface designed by Matthew Carter (http://yale.edu/printer/typeface). You don’t have to like it, but please don’t pretend that this was an arbitrary decision.

  • Hideous

    The old logo looks like one of those words you have to type in when you sign up for websites to verify that you are human. Paul Rand FAIL.

  • design?

    @#41, they probably paid mr. carter too much.

    its basically Adobe Garamond.

    how is that distinctive at all?

  • R. Stephen Adams

    The new logo is a joke without a punchline. PR wouldn’t have laughed.

  • P

    wow! why do Americans like to get rid all of Old things? there is smth called heritage you know. but you don’t seem to appreciate it. Yeah, i forgot, you can always go to medieval Europe to see old stuff

    Pfff stupid decision

  • otis


  • ElsiKongo

    Good decision!?

    Now you *folks* have to change your logo every 5 years instead of … years

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