We’re rolling out a new version of the Covenant Seminary logo today. I know that–apart from the design crowd–logo updates aren’t usually that interesting (except when they go horribly wrong). But for the few of you who are interested I thought I’d give you a bit of the backstory in light of our mission.
For over 60 years Covenant Theological Seminary has been committed to equipping impactful church leaders for a lifetime of ministry. Since 1956 this story hasn’t changed. However since 1956 we have also been continually growing in the ways we train our students. We always want to equip our students for a lifetime of faithful ministry, not just for the ordination exam.
This means training students not just in the Bible, but in how to teach the Bible. This means a focus on students’ spiritual and emotional growth. This means deepening our MDiv requirements. This means developing a robust field education program that facilitates actual learning and not box-checking. This means offering more flexible learning formats.
As we continue to look at research about what keeps people in ministry, we continue to grow in our educational method. As the denominational seminary of the Presbyterian Church in America, we take our role in equipping the church very seriously.
The problem is that it’s hard to personify that growth without at least a few paragraphs of text. That’s where a logo comes in handy. And–let’s just be honest here–when your logo looks out of date, it doesn’t communicate any of those things.
The current version of our logo is from around twenty years ago. Most academic logos change much more slowly than the corporate world, but our ‘big blue box’ logo also has a few challenges. Namely: it broke away from our original visual symbols. Like this:
Our first logo came about when Covenant College and Covenant Seminary were one and the same at our St. Louis campus. This logo uses the Scottish thistle to highlight our Presbyterianism and its Scottish roots (literally). After a few years of growth, Covenant College relocated to their present campus atop Lookout Mountain. They still use the thistle as a part of their logo today.
Covenant Seminary’s first distinct logo appeared in 1962. We still use this logo today on our diplomas. The only element the 1999 logo retained, though–the cross–actually became the smallest element, almost like a decoration. Just to go meta/theological for a moment: Covenant Seminary exists to serve the message of Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice on the cross. Not vice versa. In terms of visual hierarchy, the 1999 logo gets that backwards.
In order to reclaim both our original logo design and to move towards more simplicity, we’re introducing this new logo.
Our goal is to communicate both our theological and academic heritage along with an updated look that better communicates to our present culture. We want our alumni to be proud to display where they graduated from. This new version of our original logo also allows for more versatility. Like this:
One of the critiques of the new design inevitably will be that it looks similar to other academic logos. That’s pretty true, actually. At their founding, most university logos usually included either a book, a shield, or a torch, and probably something in Latin. If you’re a seminary there’s also either a cross, a dove, or a pulpit in there too. Our aim is to look unique while still being true to our (albeit limited) historical genre.
A good logo redesign usually looks more like a “refresh” than a “redo”. That’s what we wanted: to look visually similar to the previous logo. But simpler and more portable. And more like our original logo. And with better visual hierarchy. It’s a lot to ask from a small block of pixels. But, like our educational methodology, we hope we’re getting better at it over time.
Kent Needler is the Director of Communications at Covenant Theological Seminary.