Friday, May 15, 2009

Your Logo Here

Yesterday I wrote about student body tattoos. Today I am going to discuss presentation 'tattoos'. That is:

Do you put your institution's logo in your talks and on your posters at conferences? If you put a logo in your talk, do you put the logo on every slide or just on the title slide? Is institutional logo-ing more common on some continents than on others?

It makes sense to include an institutional logo and funding source logo in a presentation, though my preference is to do this in the corner of a title or conclusion slide and not have an entire separate acknowledgments slide that takes time away from the content of the presentation. And I can see that an institutional logo might be a bit more zippy than typing out your address, although that depends a lot on the logo.

Is a major controlling factor in logo frequency in presentations the attractiveness of the logo? I have recently observed many logoed talks, and I am quite sure that all of them featured a distinguished crest, a cool modern design featuring an abbreviation, or a scenic slice of a photograph of an historic campus. Not a single one featured a giant grinning or snarling creature, real or imaginary.

My unscientific opinion is that European universities tend to have much more dignified symbols than those of US universities, which in many cases also use their logo as a symbol or mascot for their athletic teams and that therefore in some cases feature strange animals, e.g. fierce megafauna, fighting rodents, or imaginary creatures. And those at a university with a controversial logo may prefer to have logoless presentations. (For examples, search the web for "university controversial logo" or mascot).

I'm not sure of the motivation of using a logo as a background on every single slide. Possibilities include:

- Perhaps some people who like their institution's logo also like to have continuity in the Design Elements in their presentations. These people probably also have other background design elements on every slide.

- Perhaps it is the culture of some places (institutions, countries, continents) for an academic person to identify so closely with the institution that their affiliation must be front-and-center at every moment of a visual presentation.

- Perhaps some people just like logos. I wonder if people who have logo-filled presentations also have a propensity to wear logo-clothing.

- Perhaps the logo is on every slide to identify the source of the slide for those taking digital images of slides during talks, even though most people think this is inappropriate (and some conferences forbid it).

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

I personally don't like the logo overload, but my institution "encourages" us (as in if you don't and they notice, you have a lot of explaining to do...) to use a presentation template which has the logo in it on both the title page template as well as on all other slides... So maybe it's not always the presenter's choice?

friday afternoon writer said...

At Vague Company Research we have a standard template we're expected to use whenever we give 'outside' presentations. It has its logo smallish on every slide, and big on beginning and end sides. While I'd rather not have the logo, it's company policy and one you put up with to get money for conferences :)

JaneB said...

My university has a visual image policy - it's not very prescriptive, but it does require that we use our (fairly bland, and in colours which I personally think are drab and ugly) institutional logo in a specified layout (made available for download in many inconvenient formats!) somewhere on all presentations that we give as employees (I stick it in the corner of the title slide under the name of my department). I have heard that other UK institutions actually have a series of corporate powerpoint templates which one is expected to use.

I am very jealous of Bergen University's crest - it's very attractive!

Anonymous said...

That's funny, I never thought about not putting my institution's logo in the background of the slide. I never considered that it would detract from the slide - it just sits up in the corner.

I attended a Canadian school, for your data, and we do have a nice shield.

Mrs. CH said...

I usually just put the logo on my title slide (if at all), but I'd rather just write it under my name so it's all in the same font.

I wonder if some departments/universities mandate certain templates or rules about this? Do you notice if people from the same university or research group use the same template?

I know, for example, DH's PhD group all used the same background colors, layout, and fonts for their slides/posters so there was a sense of continuity.

thoughtcounts Z said...

I've used logos as part of my slide template in a conference talk. Part of the reason for this is that the center my lab is a part of distributes a Powerpoint template with those logos already in place. It was the status quo; none of the presenters from my lab thought much about whether to change it (and it almost seemed rude to do so). Keeping the logo/s in place also means that if people enter in the middle of your talk they know where you're from and can more easily find someone to talk to about your work. I did think of this as taking the place of an acknowledgment slide (which would come at the end and anyone who saw my talk would see). In a ten-minute talk, saving a small amount of time like that makes a big difference.

For what it's worth, my university's logo is a pretty crest type of thing (though another version of the logo exists with a scary mascot).

Anonymous said...

I'm at a European university. We get provided with a powerpoint template, which we're meant to use for all conference presentations, by the University's external relations (aka PR) office. How much you're forced to use it very much seems to depend on your line manager - my old boss didn't care as long as your slides were clear and free of "wacky" design elements, my current one insists that using the template is an important way to endorse the University's brand - i.e. it's practically compulsory if you've got departmental funding for attending the conference.

YLD said...

I know that at a University I used to work at there was a standard powerpoint format which everyone was required to use if presenting to an audience outside of the university (conferences etc). It was designed by human resources and was completely impractical. Logo's everywhere, a cover picture which did not relate to anything and awkward borders which looked silly if your image wasn't just the right dimensions.

Anonymous said...

The university's logo on the title slide or the acknowledgements doesn't bother me at all, as long as the image itself is not tacky.

What about including the logo in a job talk? Does that convey too much attachment to your home institution? I've always wondered about that.

Gwen said...

Personally, I find logos annoying and colored backgrund slides with 'med school designs' as my advisor called them, distracting. A slide should convey the data, not the fact that you know how to use powerpoint.

You're a scientist. You're not supposed to care about that art stuff, anyway.

dmckee said...

Experimental particle here. I tend to put the institution and collaboration logos on the title page, and use a footer with "Presenter's Name Page N/M collaboration logo" on the rest. Similar arrangements are very common with my colleagues.

Anonymous said...

I find one or two classy and attractively designed logos, discretely placed on the title slide or the acknowledgements slide, perfectly acceptable.

Anything more than that (logo on every slide) I feel subtly detracts from the focus on the content of the presentation.

Logos that are ugly, or that clash aesthetically with the color scheme or other design elements, or more than about two logos in a presentation (or on a poster) -- tend to distract me.

I feel the content should be allowed to stand on its own as far as possible. If I am impressed by a talk or poster, I usually remember who gave it and where they came from.

I also dislike clothing with brand names, billboards, and similar forms of advertising. However, the fact that such things are not going away suggests that they might be effective, despite my hating them.

Kevin said...

I don't like logo clothing, and I don't like the ugly official University logo, but the unofficial "logo" for the school of engineering is cute and colorful. I put a small version of it on the bottom-left corner of every slide, and I usually wear a T-shirt with it on it when I give talks.

Since many people aren't even aware that our campus *has* a school of engineering, increasing the visibility of the school is important for attracting good grad students.

Note: there are no requirements for us to put a logo on our slides, but we are encouraged to mention the name of the school of engineering at every talk, and we can get funds for an extra hotel night if we give recruiting talks at US universities when we travel.

EuropeanFemaleScienceProfessor said...

We have an official "use our logo and corporate identity and provided materials or get shot" policy at our school. I had one of my projects disregard this for a flyer, and they got called to the president's office (without informing me!) for a talking to. But we used it anyway and our target group *loves* it....

Since I'm a Mac person, I can't use the Windoof/Powerpoint template, but I have made a nice Keynote one with a nice small little logo on the bottom of each page to placate the PowersThatBe.

But here's some hints: just because the template is available online, don't use it for the talk you are giving when asked by the search committee to come give a talk. You are not part of us yet. And pleeeeeeeeeeeeese, don't use the stupid ClipArt stick figures that come with Powerpoint. They really, really suck.

Use Flickr advanced search to find pictures that are Creative Commons licensed, and use them with a small "CC-by-nc-sa, WhatEverMyNameIs, 2009" as a caption. That keeps you in the clear and there are lots of really, really cool pictures on Flickr. As long as the pictures are not non-derivative you can Photoshop them to your heart's content.

FemgineerPhD said...

In my lab the logo-ing slides is a function of the audience. For intradepartmenal or academic conferences, presentations have 0-1 images of the university logo. For an industrial audience (eg, funders, collaborators) we have 1 image per slide. Why must industry be accosted with the logo so many times? I suppose part of the logic is that they are paying "big" (ha!) money to affiliate with our university, and it makes them feel good to be reminded of this... constantly.

Ms.PhD said...

funny question. I think some logos are nonsensical shapes and I can't remember one shield from another, so I'm not sure I see the point unless you're a) forced to use it for PR, b) not creative enough to come up with your own template.

@Gwen re: "art stuff"- you'd be amazed how many scientists notice this stuff and are bothered by it; similarly, how many are subconsciously influenced by the beauty (or lack thereof) in presentation formats for figures, posters and talks. A symmetrical presentation of data will usually get you a lot farther than a haphazard one. Don't believe me? Do the experiment.

Anonymous said...

Since any use of the university logo requires permission of the athletic department (a liberal arts degree gives athletes the opportunity for a more well rounded education here), in research presentations I simply state my affiliation and omit the logo.

yolio said...

I would like to speak to the mis-perception that this sort of thing is "arty." No graphic designer worth their salt would do anything but sneer at the logo-on-every page thing. This is pure corporatism and is really most offensive at the level of aesthetics. As the post made clear, mostly these logo's only serve to distract from the content of the slide. And usually, the logo isn't distinctive enough, or the text legible enough to even reliably IDENTIFY the organization. In the end, it is just some roundish blob obscuring the content. Awful.

Susan B. Anthony said...

Another thumbs down for logos on every page. And what about the ones who feel the need to have "Colloquium, University of X, Today's Date" at the bottom of each slide? What, the audience doesn't know where they are or what day it is?

bsci said...

You missed one reason for logos on every slide. People ask to borrow slides and use them in their own presentations. This is especially true for some background/introductory slides which are sometimes hard and time consuming to do right.

Having an unobtrusive logo on each slide can be one way to make sure the presenter remembers to give credit to the originator of the slide/data.

Kevin said...

And what about the ones who feel the need to have "Colloquium, University of X, Today's Date" at the bottom of each slide? What, the audience doesn't know where they are or what day it is?Those labels on the slides are not for today's audience, but for the much larger audience of people who read the slides off the web. It also helps the presenter make sure that they've clicked on the right presentation.

female Science Professor said...

Some comments sent to me separately have suggested that perhaps American academics are more inclined to logo than Europeans, but in fact my recent experience was the opposite, hence my question about the importance of the specific logo design. At a recent conference I saw lots of historic crests and shields and crowns and such as design elements on slides in talks by European scientists, but the Americans were much more restrained (in this case anyway).

tig said...

University logo and Research-Council logo go on the title slide. Research council then get a proper mention on the final Acknowledgements slide. University do not.

tig

Unbalanced Reaction said...

Yeah, I don't like it, but my institution requires it. Unfortunate, really, since
1. the logo does in fact feature a mild yet snarling animal, and,

2. the colors are hideous.

female Science Professor said...

required on every slide of a presentation or just somewhere (title or conclusion)?

Susan B. Anthony said...

@Kevin:
Those labels on the slides are not for today's audience, but for the much larger audience of people who read the slides off the web. It also helps the presenter make sure that they've clicked on the right presentation.Even so, it is unnecessary to have such a label on EVERY slide. Slide space is too valuable to clutter up with redundant information, IMO.

Spiny Norman said...

Point the first. Apparently, it has not occurred to some institutions that "encourage" the logotyping of slides that the majority of scientific talks, especially at large meetings, are boring, pedestrian or overtly awful. Yet the want their brand welded to the talks. Fools.

Point the second. Almost all slides are projected at 1024 x 768 resolution. This is *very* low bandwidth for the human visual system. It is a very bad idea to further degrade the bandwidth by contaminating a significant fraction of the visual field with irrelevant garbage.

engineering undergrad girl said...

One of my professors made me put the logo on every single slide...and that's how he does his stuff too.

Anonymous said...

I'm at a European university, and we are required to use the university templates for posters, presentations etc. Most people have resigned and use the templates without complaining too much. In fact, this seems to be the rule at most universities around here, and as a result of this most scientists simply expect the logos at presentations and does not get bothered by them any more or even notice them at all.

The templates are often boring, but in most cases they at least prevent the more stupid backgrounds that you can use in powerpoint that are very flashy but prevent anyone in the audience from actually being able to read the text.

Thomas Lumley said...

I usually have a logo on the title slide. Very occasionally a small logo in the corner of each slide.

Dr Spouse said...

I'm also at a European university, and while there's no specific requirement, we are encouraged to have our university logo on the title slide, or at the top of a conference poster. It's relatively dignified (it represents a piece of architecture on campus) but as the university dates from the 60s it's not historic by European standards.

We would only put it on the first slide, but we would also add (especially on posters, now I think of it, where you can't say it out loud to every attendee) logos of the funding bodies. Where I have a student who is funded directly by the university I would also say this at the start of a talk:

"I'd also like to thank Greenfield U who funded A. Student's research, and the Research Council for the Obvious who funded the later stages of the project"

In that case I might only use the university's logo. I wouldn't use the university's logo in a job talk, though, as I'm representing myself, not them, but I would probably use or mention the funding council's logo to demonstrate how good I am at getting funding.

Benne Willem Holwerda said...

I used logo's heavily in one presentation since the work had been done with different collaborators and I wanted to show who contributed to what.

Personally I find some of the NASA logos quite fetching and many of the shields used in european universities too similar to be distinguishable.

nivi said...

I use the logo on every slide, but its a small one at the header (lab) and institution (footer). They both fit in quite well with the minimalistic colour scheme we started using for our lab. One reason was our PI figured everyone was using all sorts of themes for posters and presentations that it would be better to unify the whole thing such that people can recognize that we are from the same place.
We don't have a crest as such and both logos are what you would consider "modern". I'm from an asian university if that helps

Unbalanced Reaction said...

Yeah, the mild yet snarling animal is supposed to be on each slide. I make it very small and stick it in a corner. I hope that at least those in the audience with poor vision will mistake it for a more distinguished shield! :-)

Anonymous said...

I like to place a small representative image on each slide (sort of a logo for the paper) in the header area and give some affiliation type stuff as a footer. Since I tend to be a bad, pop in and out of talks kind of person, I like to provide some basic orientation information for those like me.

Anonymous said...

since grad school I was trained to cover every presentation with tons of 'logos' - that of the university, collaborators' institutions, as well as the funding sponsors. it was pretty common for every slide in our presentations to have a logo at each of the four corners so when I see a logo-less presentation now I am suspicious as to WHY there are no logos. what are they trying to hide?

Anonymous said...

My last university also "required" us to use the templates they provided... with a logo on every blasted page. So I always made sure to go out of my way to cover the silly thing with graphs, photos, text - anything, really. I might have to use the wretched logo, but that doesn't mean I have to respect it.

Mike the microscopist said...

My employers logo is quite stylised and unfussy (as it's a simplified derivative of a tiny part of the university arms), so shrinks down to be still present and visible, but taking up a tiny bit of the top right of the slide. And who looks at the top right of the slide that often?

I believe they present us with templates, but I've got away with ignoring them so far.

(i) said...

Whenever I have a poster or powerpoint presentation, I am supposed to use the university template. The poster template contains a rim along the bottom of the poster in the university colour, including the logo in the corner. The logo is basically the short name of the university with an abstract symbol. The powerpoint template also features the logo in the bottom corner. The colours and fonts used are in the university format.

I don't mind using the formats, even though I don't like them very much, because it keeps me from spending too much time on formatting. The logo does not distract me, since it merely states where I'm from. When I have cooperated with another organisation, I stick their logo on the first slide along the university logo, but not on the next slides.

I work at a European university.

Global Girl said...

I use logos on every slide because I'm corporate like that. It's all about the marketing of the brand. Can't market the brand if people don't know where the research came form.