Student reaction to new USF logo: What’s up with the colors?

Published September 8 2018
Updated March 24

TAMPA — Wearing green and gold from head to toe, USF President Judy Genshaft unveiled the university’s newest academic logo during her annual fall address Wednesday.

The design: A lime green bull on a darker green background, along with a lime green "USF."

Cheers arose after Genshaft displayed the logo and asked those in attendance, mostly staff, "Don’t you love it?"

A different reaction arose in the days that followed, as hundreds of students weighed in on social media.

Few were positive.

"I just don’t understand how anybody could think this looks good, I mean, it looks silly," said Andrew Fabacher, 20, a junior majoring in broadcast production at USF. "The logo is okay, its just, the color. The neon colors aren’t our school and they’re not academic. The color is what really does it for me."

Fabacher’s displeasure was echoed throughout USF’s Class Facebook pages — closed groups reserved for USF students of different graduating years.

The top complaint? The logo’s use of a color some described as neon or lime green.

Elsewhere, some complained it looked too much like the bull in the Merrill Lynch logo.

Fabacher and several other students took a stab at designs of their own, posting them online. While Fabacher replaced the lime green with white, student Nicolas Remy, 23, changed it to a subtle gold. His was the clear favorite on a Facebook page for the USF Class of 2020.

The feedback: over 340 likes and 17 comments, nearly universally in favor of Remy’s proposed change, with one commenter writing, "Wow, I thought I hated the whole thing but apparently I only hate the colors."

The official logo presented by Genshaft was hatched as part of a $200,000, year-long marketing campaign in conjunction with Spark Media.

Remy offered up his reimagined design on Facebook. "You’re welcome, USF," he wrote in a post. "I take payment in the form of waived loans."

The music major gave his own perspective on the initial design.

"I don’t think very many people are upset about the logo," Remy said. "I personally like the logo — think it looks cool and more modern. It’s really just the color that most people aren’t comfortable with. You can see that online."

Joe Hice, USF’s marketing director, said Wednesday that the logo was made to embody a merging of the USF System’s three locations — Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee — under one roof.

Hice said he and his team spent about a year gathering feedback before birthing the bull featured in the new logo, which pulls together elements of the bronze bull statues on all three campuses.

Its "optimistic, upward-angled head" mirrors the bull at USF St. Petersburg. The curved tail comes from USF Sarasota-Manatee. And the "regal stance" derives from the Tampa campus.

No matter.

Fabacher has started a petition to change the colors, and another student, Alexis Loukota, started one calling on USF to revert back to its prior logo.

Hice, who coined the slogan "Gator Nation" while working for the University of Florida, said he saw the negative student responses about the USF logo.

He also said it was expected.

But research showed it was time for a change, he said, and change can be difficult.

He sees signs that many people like the new logo and predicts more will follow suit.

"Everybody thinks ‘Gator Nation’ was a hit from the start," he said. "It wasn’t the case."

Contact Josh Fiallo at Follow @byjoshfiallo