Iconic Imagery, from the mind of bob rytter.

The University of Arizona wanted to distinguish itself from other major universities using a large block letter A as a brand identity.  

In order to establish design criteria, we interviewed administrators, alumni, faculty, donors and students to understand the university’s unique culture, history and other attributes. Determining image attributes - desirable characteristics to be communicated with a brand identity – is a process requiring inclusion from all constituencies.

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The University’s branding committee settled on the brand representing innovation, athletic prowess and academic excellence. The University has many examples of innovative programs, courses and outcomes. The success of the athletic program is known nationally and generates significant revenue.  The primary difference we found between The University of Arizona and Arizona State University and other competitive institutions is the quality of academic programs.

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Established equity was also determined to be only the colors red and blue, as they were historical.  

These characteristics became the design criteria which lead to the logo featuring a classic serif font A surrounded by the powerful sans serif block A. To add another dimension of distinction, the official communicative name was changed to The University of Arizona, a branding technique soon followed by The Ohio State University, The Johns Hopkins University and others. 

Of note is the way in which the brand identity represents both the institutional brand and the athletic brand equally. This is very unusual in higher education, as typically the athletic program graphics are very different from the institutional brand identity.