Evolution & Multnomah…Logos

6 comments Written on July 15th, 2011 by
Categories: Alumni, General, Seminary, University Name Change

The Project

For the past few weeks, I have been hunting down, scanning, and rebuilding (using Illustrator) all of the logos from Multnomah's history. While I was at it, I did a little bit of research and recorded the approximate years during which each logo was used. I finished the project earlier this week, so what you see here is the fruit of my labor; the digital archiving of Multnomah's branding history.

The Logos


This is the logo that started it all! Easily the most difficult to re-create, the "globe logo" was used for almost 30 years, making it our longest-lasting logo to date.



I hear a lot of opinions about this logo (I'll call it the "dove logo"). Graphically, it is strong and easily my favorite Multnomah logo. It's heavy symbolism and lack of an accompanying name also makes it one of the most controversial logos in the school's history (ok, maybe "controversial" is too strong... it does get talked about a lot, though). I've heard stories about different interpretations of the meaning of this logo. Please share yours below in the comments.



The second logo adopted in the 80's, this one kept the Bible as a key element and added the name.

Interesting factoid: this logo was still featured on our paychecks in 2004.



I dubbed this the "cursive logo". It is by far the simplest, but also the least unique... possibly the reason it only lasted a couple years?



Now we're talking! Sometime in 1990 or 1991, the Multnomah "seal" was introduced as the logo for the Graduate School. It held on during the Seminary transition, too. This logo has been so popular, that it is still the primary element of our logo today.



This is the beginning of another logo with many interpretations. What do you see? Bible pages? A stylized "M"? A harp? A pitchfork or multi-bladed sickle? You be the judge. (If you have the right answer, kindly leave it in the comments below)



And then there was color! With these logos (all variations of already-existing logos) began the era of color-coding each division of the school, with green as the "institutional" color. This was the state of Multnomah's branding when I was hired; strong elements to work with, but a serious need condense it all into something simpler.



Utilizing the strongest elements of each logo, the green and black Multnomah "seal" became the primary logo in 2004. The institutional logo simply said Multnomah until 2008.






The only variation from logo to logo was the division that was listed underneath. The College and Seminary logos are still in use today.




When the institutional name became Multnomah University, the blank space below the "institutional logo" was filled. As you know, the College and Seminary all exist (and have their own logos as shown above) under the "umbrella" of Multnomah University. For instance, you will notice that publications that deal specifically with the Seminary utilize the Seminary logo. But when a publication applies to multiple divisions of the school, the University logo is used.



Last but not least, we have our "side by side" logo. Originally created for occasions when there is no room for taller version of our logo (see above), we started to realize that this lower-profile logo looked good in multiple circumstances. These days, you probably see (and may have noticed) that we use this one more often than the other.


Let's Hear Those Stories!

Almost every person I've spoken with about Multnomah's logos who has worked at or attended the school has something to say about "their" logo. Dr. Friesen, for one, had some very amusing stories about the first students who came up with alternative symbolism for the "dove" logo (something about professors piling huge amounts of homework on their weary students).

Post your stories in the comments below. Let's see how many legends and tales are floating around out there!

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About the Author:
Creative Director / Lead Designer at Multnomah University and Freelance Graphic Designer.

6 comments “Evolution & Multnomah…Logos”

The “dove logo” looks like two people reading the scripture together. One facing down, one facing up. I would love to hear the actual interpretation from the original creator though. The logo is almost tattoo worthy! Very strong stuff!

Hi Thanks for all of the hard work with the logos.

I would like to share my interpretation of the “dove logo”

The central wavey lines remind the viewer of an open book because of the dip in the middle. The book of course is the bible because everyone knows “if you want bible you want Multnomah”. The circle above the lines has a small triangle at the bottom, this makes me think of the view of a persons head from the top. I would even say he has “his nose in the books” implying he is studying the book. As I look at it some more I see the white surrounding the head shape above the book it looks like two arms grasping and holding the book open for concentrated study and preventing the book from being shut. I then look down the symbol and I see the other round dot. It draws on the refrence of the dot above giving me the illusion of the top of another larger persons head. The white surrounding the lower dot also helps covey the image of the book being held open by a larger person. All of these ideas put together tell me that this school has big peeople holding the book open so the little person can study and learn. I would even go so far as saying that is what my professors did. They held open God’s word for me so that I might know and desire to learn what it says.

I’ll resist the temptation to dominate the comments section by adding only two comments.

First, the original logo lives on in the presidential seal which was forged for my inauguration and which I still wear with my regalia at every commencement. One bit of trivia: the Phil. 2:16 verse on the logo is also the verse on one of the stained glass panels standing in the seminary foyer and donated by an alumnus who retrieved them from a North Portland Church slated for demolition. There was no connect between the artist and Multnomah. I would call it providential coincidence!

Second, the “cursive M” logo was designed by Multnomah Press (then a division of Multnomah) and was dubbed “The Eyelash.” It was retired early because a senior administrator considered it too “feminine”!

Dr. Dan

I love the ones that incorporate the look of the “pages of the Bible”

I love to see how logos have changed and transformed over the years, and this is a perfect example! Really interesting article!

When I attended Multnomah for the first time in 1994 the new logo at the time was explained to us as not only pages of a bible but it also is the letter “M” as well.