Where’s the beef?

Some people accuse PSU of institutional inertia, bloated bureaucracy and inefficiency. I think that’s totally unfair. When an opportunity comes along for PSU to throw away some money, they do so with such efficiency that it’s actually alarming.

Let’s take a look at the latest financial fiasco: the new PSU logo.

Way back in January 2005, President Dan Bernstine established the Task Force for Integrated Marketing for the purpose of creating a distinct PSU “brand.”

You know, sort of like Nike shoes or Oscar Meyer wieners.

Part of the goal of this task force was to establish PSU’s “brand personality” (apparently, “Victor Viking” isn’t enough), which will include traits like being “urban,” “challenging” and “progressive.”

Is anyone else laughing at this yet?

The Task Force met this challenge head on, deliberating for approximately one month before deciding to offer a $120,000 contract to local marketing firm Sockeye Creative, which has also done work for Hollywood Entertainment (remember Hollywood Video?), Ultimatebet.com, and the Portland Timbers.

Apparently, this contract price was a real bargain – 60 percent off their usual fee. Why we got this great deal we may never know, but even at a huge discount, that still seems like a lot of money to me.

Sockeye doesn’t appear to share my awe. In fact, the lack of their usual $300,000 fee seems to be stifling their creativity. So far, the most concrete deliverable they’ve come up with looks like shit ?” literally. Their proposed “logo” is a P stacked on top of a U with a lazy S between them. The S looks more like a tilde, and the entire thing looks like more like a cattle brand than a University logo. Is it just me, or did anyone else use the initials PU (pronounced “Pee You”) to denote poo and stinkiness when they were about five years old? As one student wrote, “It’s PSU, not P~U.”

I don’t know about you, but when I see the logo, the first things that spring to mind are not “urban,” “challenging” and “progressive,” but rather “stinky poop.” This is what our $120,000 bought us? If the Task Force is interested in making PSU appear urban, challenging and progressive, I’d recommend a picture of a FUBU-clad 50 Cent propping a book of Maya Angelou poetry open with a MAC-10.

Some people would undoubtedly take issue with my criticism of the logo by saying it’s just “not about the logo.” In fact, VP of University Relations Cassie McVeety, speaking to the Vanguard on the issue a few weeks ago, said “The whole process is not about picking a logo that everyone loves, but about reinforcing the idea that there is one look for the university.”

See? Straight from the horse’s mouth ?” it’s not about the logo. But wait ?” there is one look for the university? What about making the university “brand” reflect all the diversity present? Are we all supposed to have the same “look” here at PSU (by wearing poo moustaches)? No, I must be taking the quote out of context ?” she must have been referring to color schemes or something. But doesn’t PSU already have a pretty concrete color scheme? We must, or else why would people call us Big Green all the time?

In the final analysis, it’s probably very unfair to focus on the logo that has been released for consideration in gallery viewings ?” which is probably nothing more than a snapshot of the design process (at least I hope so).

No, what really irks me is not the poo-like logo, but the fact that PSU decided to hire Sockeye Creative in the first place. I want to know what exactly did we imagine they were going to spend the $120,000 on? That kind of money could buy a lot of doughnuts for a lot of focus groups, but I have a feeling it more likely bought a lot of catered lunches from Elephants for a lot of designers lounging in Herman Miller chairs in the company’s Pearl district offices.

It’s been suggested by concerned students that the logo design be turned over to an art student with a Sharpie. As a soon-to-be business graduate, I can tell you that this is a very good idea. As Jay from Milwauke, WI commented on the Vanguard website, “If you want a new logo, that’s fine, do it the way everything else that worked at PSU was done ?” put it in the hands of the students.” Another commentator suggested we shouldn’t pay more for a PSU logo than Phil Knight did for the Nike logo ?” about $17. The irony being that the Nike swoosh itself is now worth millions and the new PSU logo will be worth, well, jack shit.

Another concern of mine is what will happen to the existing University seal ?” which looks somewhat like trees to me (fitting, considering the march of rare trees down the very middle of our campus). And what about our motto, ‘Doctrina Urbi Serviat?’ Is that going to be flushed as well? Did we just pay $120 G’s to shit on the legacy of Judith Ramaley?

I have a feeling my questions aren’t going to be answered. All I know is that this sort of waste in the midst of low salaries and budget deficits is disgusting to a classically-trained businessperson ?” and that I’m very happy to be graduating soon.