New RISD brand identity seeks to create cohesive aesthetic, better reflect school – The Brown Daily Herald


Since the announcement of a new rebranding initiative, RISD has updated its admissions materials, campus flags and banners, social media and RISD Store merchandise, according to a RISD press release.
The Rhode Island School of Design launched a new “brand identity” last month to better reflect the school’s “vision, values and priorities,” the culmination of a process that began last spring and involved input from hundreds of community members, according to a Sept. 28 press release.
Through its “simple and modular layout,” the branding emphasizes the work of RISD students and faculty, according to the press release. The rebranding also aims to establish a visual representation of a “guiding idea” — “question to create, create to question.” 
RISD collaborated with the design studio Gretel, the research agency ON ROAD and alum Ryan Bugden on the rebranding project. Bugden designed the “RISD Serif” typeface — which is used in the new logo — and redrew the institution seal, which was over 70 years old, according to the press release. Gretel and ON ROAD solicited input from students, faculty, staff, alums and community members for input. ON ROAD also conducted research with BIPOC RISD students and independent artists to “understand the contextual dynamics around the changing perceptions of post-secondary arts education,” according to the press release. 
The color accompanying the logo, coined “RISD Blue,” connects the history of “the first synthetically produced pigment to hyperlink blue of the early internet,” according to the RISD identity guidelines website
“At RISD, we are educating artists, designers and scholars to challenge and create the ideas that shape the future and to design a more just, fair and sustainable society,” RISD President Crystal Williams said in the press release. “By strengthening how RISD presents itself to the world, this work will enable us to more powerfully share the incredible ideas and expressions that emanate from our community and more clearly demonstrate the critical role art and design play in the world.”
But the rebranding was met with mixed reception by students, some of whom voiced concerns about the suddenness of the change.
“I think because (upperclassmen) have been here (before the rebranding), it's a rapid shift that seems so unnecessary,” said Katrina Larner, who studies film, animation and video. 
“I don't think a solid identity is ever necessary, (and) it can be limiting,” said architecture student Mara Gemeda-Breka. At RISD, many students identify more with their majors and “everyone's experience in their respective majors is so vastly different,” she added.
“It seems antiquated to care so much about an image, and it pulls the art that's made here back into the past,” said illustration student Carmina Lopez. “It seems sanitizing.” 
But Lopez added that she understood why the administration might want to create an easily recognizable identity, to foster a “more unified look” between Brown and RISD.  
The new brand identity is “focused on guidance for harmonizing how RISD departments and offices communicate,” and has little to do with “influencing or changing student expression,” wrote Senior Director of RISD Public Relations Jaime Marland in an email to The Herald.
“We’ve never had an institution-wide identity before and that often resulted in confusion and inconsistency — it was hard to know what was officially RISD or not,” Marland wrote. “The system we’re introducing creates more cohesion and hopefully will make it easier for important audiences like students and prospective students to connect with and learn about RISD.” 
Since the announcement, RISD has updated its admissions materials, campus flags and banners, social media and RISD Store merchandise, according to the press release, and the school soon plans to update its campus vehicles and central website as well. 
The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. is a financially independent, nonprofit media organization with more than 250 students working across our journalism, business and web divisions.



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