New York University is a truly urban school, with offices, departments, and classes spread considerably beyond its lower Manhattan campus. The university spaces are sometimes tucked into buildings that house a business or retail store as its most visible occupant. Without a clear visual identity, it was almost as though the university melted into the city landscape.
In order to design an appropriate identity for the university, we looked to its past for imagery. NYU’s traditional seal contained an intricate scene of runners moving forward, following the beacon of a lit torch. To create a simpler and more visible icon, we eliminated the background images and the runners and focused instead on the idea of torch and flame—a traditional symbol of knowledge.
The simplified torch shines in white in the darkness of purple, with the school initials placed below the torch when needed. The purple color, too, has had a long history with the university. NYU’s sports teams have always been known as the “Violet.” It’s a distinctive, vivid color that calls attention to itself when used on a flag hung from a city building or painted on the side of a university shuttle bus.