Higher Ed Branding in The Pine Tree State

Maine has a good grip on branding design. While there are fewer higher ed institutions than other states, each for the most part has a good visual representation. 

Some notable takeaways:

  • Most logos feature a block-justified type composition. 
  • The majority of logos are serif style.
  • There isn’t one dominant color trend.
  • Most brands feature an icon versus exclusive type-based solutions.
  • Icons tend to be abstract interpretations of thoughts or objects versus literal interpretations.

The highlighted brands below were designs that stood out to me.

The gallery of 27 logos is displayed at the bottom of the page. Let me know what you think on Twitter or LinkedIn!

Journey-Inspired Icons

Given that the State of Maine is on the Atlantic coast, journey-inspired and nautical-themed icons such as compasses and ship wheels make sense. Both types of icons work well as metaphors for travel, personal growth through adventure, change over time, and more. It’s not hard to extrapolate a resonant metaphor here. The approach towards the design of the icons, though, offers a decent amount of variety. Ranging from featuring fine details to larger simplified shapes, these icons benefit from the visual variety. 

Abstract Icons

Maine institutions that use abstract icons in their branding solution tend to lean really heavily into the abstract. The logo examples that are seen here range from minimal to “maximal.” MHCP features an engaging wireframe leaf-motif that casts a lot of movement and creates focus with the broken line in the bottom curve. The Fort Kent icon is a bit more complex with its background-midground-foreground relationships, which in typical situations would confuse the focal point but the white winding road breaks it to create movement. The College of the Atlantic is fascinating. The nautical motifs within the turquoise circle demand a lot of attention, necessary to break down the finer details of the illustrations. The wave motif is appropriate but also unnecessary. The intentional misalignment creates a readable sequence from top to bottom. The circle icon might command more visual impact if it used an aqua-inspired gradient.

Nature

In Maine, a premium value is placed on the beauty of its natural resources. According to Thrillist, Maine has ranked the 14th most beautiful state in the United States. Be it the dense forests or the fresh coastline, Maine has a lot of nature to be proud of. Including references to Maine’s natural resources in a brand is an organic and intuitive choice. The logos featured here each include a leaf or tree motif. The Unity College logo leans heavily into the tree symbol and it rests well within the shape of the letter U. The block composition anchors the text into place and puts extra focus on the tree. In contrast, the St. Joseph’s College of Maine design is a very swiss-minimalist two-column execution. The individual trees are exclusively made of rectangles and form into one singular tree. It’s a well executed minimalist metaphor. 

Take a look at the brands below and share your thoughts with us on Twitter! #CommCentered