Onwards and upwards

New logo and identity for the Universities Admissions Centre by Freckle

The Universities Admissions Centre (UAC – pronouncedyoo-ak”) is the organisation that processes centralised applications for admission to most tertiary education courses at institutions primarily in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. It also calculates and provides the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) to New South Wales Higher School Certificate students, and processes applications for Educational Access Schemes, Equity Scholarships and Schools Recommendation Schemes. UAC is a not-for-profit company incorporated in 1995 and is a member of the Australasian Conference of Tertiary Admission Centres. (Wikipedia)

The old logo featured two styles of Gill Sans – Condensed for the acronym and Light for the full name – but they were different enough in size, proportion and weight, that they paired well. The leading of the two lower lines could have done with a bit of tightening up, and there appeared to be an alignment issue: “UNIVERSITIES” wasn’t directly above the centre of “ADMISSIONS CENTRE”.

Sure, logos don’t have to be mathematically aligned in software, because software cannot take into account the way humans perceive shape, colour, and size, which may not agree with the numbers. (It’s why the G in Google’s logo doesn’t follow the form of a perfect circle, and why round letters like C and O are always slightly taller than square-ish letters like H and X.) But in the case of this logo, to my eye, the optical alignment is a bit off.

As for the green shape in the back… if you know what that was, reach out to me? Was it a piece of paper? Was it a bird looking up aspirationally? Was it a magic carpet? Whatever it was, it wasn’t offensive. An overall decent logo.

“Follow your dreams with UAC”

The result [of the rebrand] is a dynamic logo with a clearly defined pathway that invites individuals to embark on a new journey through UAC – to access opportunity and fulfil their potential. We opted to refresh the existing colour palette, which is closely associated with the brand, combining midnight blue, lime and charcoal grey with pops of secondary colour. The logo is accompanied by typography that is bold, modern and clearly legible in all sizes.

Freckle project page

The new logo gets rid of the bird-paper-carpet and bounds the acronym in a square. The text is set in the Bold variant of Acumin, a versatile sans-serif family which has been described as a “Helvetica for readers” and delivers a clean, modern aesthetic. Generally, square-shaped logos suggest stability, maturity and professionalism. Great. But if they are combined with colours like blue, they may also appear cold and uninviting. This is countered in the new logo, though, with the off-kilter lime “pathway” which makes for something more interesting. And, of course, the symbolism of the pathway makes a lot of sense as it relates to life journeys.

Example pages from Universities Admissions Centre publications
Example pages from publications

As expected, Acumin performs well as a text face, as seen in the extracts from various publications, above. The top-left cover is kind of blah, though; the color blocking behind the title competes with the logo and makes Acumin look more boring than it intends to be. Otherwise, the layouts are typographically sound, and the selective use of the brand colours makes everything cohere.

You can also see the various ways the new logo and its variants are applied. I think the “small space logo” works well (top-right) and the application of the pathway to a larger blue field (as in the back cover on the bottom-right) is an appropriate, albeit unsurprising, adaptation of the logo. I’m not too keen on the “bookmark logo” though (top centre). I appreciate that the square is conducive to being extended in this way, but it’s too intrusive on the page when the regular logo would suffice. The bookmark logo would be more suitable on something that it can fill completely, like an actualbookmark or a vertical banner.

Universities Admissions Centre website home page before and after
Website home page before (left) and after (right)

The UAC website has also received an overhaul, with a brighter, more image-focused design, restructured navigation and nice pops of the midnight blue and lime. It certainly looks more considered and approachable than the previous iteration.

Universities Admissions Centre tote bags
Tote bags (“UAC” looks bolder or wider for some reason)
Universities Admissions Centre wall treatment
Wall treatment
Universities Admissions Centre button badges
Button badges (trying too hard)

Overall, this is an okay update for UAC. The logo itself is absolutely fine; in fact, it looks like something that could have been produced in the (legendary) offices of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, based purely on its minimalist aesthetic. But when it comes to the applications, there is just no wow factor. The pathway graphic that is the anchor for the identity becomes boring when you’ve seen it enough times. There is some effort shown with the use of word play, like the incorporation of “UAC” into phrases (YOU ACTUALISED), and the “Bags of Potential” pun, but I feel these have limited potential. I want to see a broader visual identity that’s as exciting as the new life journeys that UAC facilitates.

In the spirit of ATAR, the new identity only just makes the cut-off.