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Catie Gehlert
Mark Fischer
Criticism doesn’t faze Jerry Kuyper
University Park, Pa — One man has faced a lot of criticism following Penn State’s
unveiling of its new logo.
But Jerry Kuyper, the head of Jerry Kuyper Partners design firm has not taken it
personally.
“We anticipated that regardless of what we came up with there were going to be people
who said ‘wow, why are we doing this, why are we changing it?’” Kuyper said during a
phone interview. “I understand the resistance to change, it’s kind of human nature.”
Kuyper said Penn State approached him sometime around February and March of 2015
about updating its logo.
Penn State had used the same logo since 1983.
But according to Kuyper, Penn State felt it wasn’t keeping up with the changing times.
“[The decision to change the logo] was to get more in the digital age,” Kuyper said. “As
digital applications became more and more dominant, [the old logo] had certain
functional issues.”
The old Penn State logo featured a depiction of Lion Shrine found in the middle of
campus with 1855 — the year Penn State was founded — below it and the words “Penn
State” placed above it. The entire logo is dark navy blue.
After the logo change, Penn State stated in a press release that the “the original mark was
developed in the pre-digital era and its poor reproduction in Web, social media and video
environments has diminished its use.”
According to Onward State, the council leading the logo change project wanted the new
logo to encompass seven characteristics: memorable, enduring, visually appealing,
meaningful, and legally available.
As a result, Penn State said that the previous logo’s archaic-ness forced branch campuses
and different colleges within the university to adapt their own logos to make it easier to
use online and through social media.
Penn State felt the different logos led to an “inconsistent” representation of Penn State as
a whole.

According to Kuyper, the new logo’s design makes it more versatile online and through
social media.
The new logo includes a revamped image of a white and light blue Nittany Lion on a
dark blue shield with “Penn State” placed to the right of it.
“Retaining the Nittany Lion was essential,” Kuyper said. We fully agreed with that and
[Penn State] is so lucky to have something like that that is so widely known.”
Penn State invited a number of design firms to submit logo proposals. From there, Penn
State’s Strategic of Communications narrowed down the number of firms.
Kuyper joked that the presentations given by his firms and others must have been akin to
watching a Russian Nesting Doll.
Ultimately, Penn State decided to go with Kuyper and his group of four partners.
“They were selected as the most qualified firm in a highly competitive pool of top notch
applicants. We also were pleased they were the most reasonably priced,” Lawrence
Lokman, the vice president of Strategic Communications, said in an email.
Penn State paid Kuyper $128,000 to change the logo.
Kuyper has worked in the design industry for the past 30 years.
He got his start in designing in 1981 as a senior designer for Saul Bass Associates. He
then worked for Landor, frogdesign, Siegel and Gale and Lippincott, where he was a
Senior Partner.
Prior to Saul Bass Associates, Kuyper taught at the University of Hawaii, the National
Institute of Design.
In 2004, he started his own firm, Jerry Kuyper and Partners, and has since worked with a
number of companies including Cisco, AT&T, Santander and AmeriCares among others.
He also developed the logo for the University of Southern California’s 125th anniversary
as well as the emblem for Stanford’s centennial celebration.
“[Kuyper] is one of the best in the industry, and has worked on some of the most iconic
brands out there,” Lokman said. “His record is stellar, and he is one of the reasons the
refresh was recently recognized by a major brand magazine as one of the top brand
identity refreshes in the past year.”
Kuyper received an award at the inaugural Transform Awards North America program for
his work on the new logo. According to Penn State, the program recognizes and

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celebrates brands that have successfully addressed brand development, rebranding or
brand positioning.
Kuyper also said that his work with Penn State’s logo has helped him land other clients.
As for those in the Penn State community who hate the logo, Kuyper received advice
from a Penn State alumna.
“At one point, I believe it was one of the alumni who said ‘you know I was here 25-30
years ago when Penn State changed its logo’” Kuyper recalled. The alumnus told him, “I
just wanted to remind you that there was enormous [criticism] when we switched to this
one.”