Penn State Unveils Controversial New Zombie Lion Logo

Feedback on social media to the new Penn State academic logo has been harsh.

Penn State logos

A comparison of Penn State’s old and new academic logos.

The Penn State Nittany Lion is scared as hell.

Or perhaps he’s just rolled around in a giant catnip patch. He could also be a zombie lion, or under the influence of some other drug. Or maybe it’s as simple as this: He’s just realized he’s in the crosshairs of a Minnesota dentist.

Yesterday, Penn State unveiled a new academic logo for the university. It replaces the lion shrine version that had been around since the 1980s. Per The Daily Collegian, the school began a logo update in 2013 and paid Jerry Kuyper Partners, a Connecticut identity-branding firm, $128,000 for the work.

“I am excited to see us moving forward with an updated visual identity that connects our rich tradition with a bright future,” PSU president Eric Barron said in a release. “The 1980s version of the mark incorporated important elements of who we are as a University, but had presented usage challenges for some time. The updated version is a strong representation of Penn Staters’ excellence, passion and innovation.”

The move doesn’t affect Penn State’s more common (and better-known) athletic logo, which features a lion head in an oval. Penn State says it is not requiring academic departments to toss anything with the old logo on it; rather, the new logo will essentially be phased in over time. “The only expected financial resource need will be for exterior signage, since units will be asked to integrate the updated identity as they replenish supplies that use the mark,” the school said in a statement. “The change will be most immediately evident in high-profile venues such as on the Penn State homepage, news and social media platforms, campus websites and in television spots.”

More than 300 faculty, staff and administrative groups were consulted on the new logo design. According to a slideshow (below) provided by the university’s marketing department on the logo change, the old mark was outdated as it preceded the digital era. Many college divisions had stopped using the logo, the school said, but now all school departments and extension campuses will have the same unified look.

The school says the new logo “continues [the] heritage of the Nittany Lion” with the new, terrifying lion having “the same sense of stature as the sculpture.” Additionally, per this same slideshow, “the subtle curve at the top of the shield is more visually appealing” than the old logo. The words “Penn State” (or “PennState”) are in a custom serif typeface. The new logo is also a lighter shade of blue.

“Penn State was ahead of its time in introducing the academic shield and achieving University-wide use earlier than many other top public research universities,” Lawrence Lokman, the school’s VP for strategic communications, said in a statement. “However, with the original mark, designers frequently spent added time trying to adapt it for uses that were not foreseen at the time of its development nearly three decades ago, causing increased costs and frustrations for the University marketing community, as well as firms that produce merchandise carrying the University’s mark.”

Also, according to this image made by the university, the new logo is designed for places like Twitter and things like old versions of iPhones and iOS.

Okay, fine — it’s a logo update for the digital age. But a quick scan of reaction to the new logo on social media finds many people very, very angry about the refresh. This is the Internet, where people get angry about everything, but there’s even already a petition to bring back the old logo. “Geez… $128K for a logo that my 14-year-old nephew could have created for a fraction of the cost,” one comment reads.

Penn State has answers for the haters, however: “The strength and clarity of the updated logo is seen by comparing it to the current logo at the same height and same width.”

I guess? That new lion is still terrifying, though. Why doesn’t he have eyes?!

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