In common with lots of universities, Aberystwyth uses a shield which has been derived from the University’s crest. The elements of the crest are explained in the branding guidelines.
The main features are:
Two red dragons which symbolise the optimism of Victorian north and south Wales
An Open Book - symbolising the world of learning
Eagle or Phoenix rising open-winged above a flaming tower
symbolising, perhaps, the rebirth of the College after the fire of 1885
The legend ‘Nid Byd, Byd Heb Wybodaeth’ - ‘A World Without Knowledge, is No World’
Nod to tradition
The shield portion of the is pretty symmetrical and direct, possibly even literal. The more interesting aspect of this particular logo is the treatment of the type. The ‘A’ sticks up sharply above the level of the rest of the uppercase classical serif, which is in turn tightly spaced. Not sure if the ‘ry’ pair is a usual kerning, where the R joins the Y. Similarly, the W and Y are joined where I think a little space might have let the letters breath better.
Balancing the bi-lingual
Probably the least resolved part of the logo for me was the uppercase sans serif typefaces above and below the text. Aligned top left and bottom right, they seem to upset the balance of the logo. Looking quite like a squashed Helvetica, the bi-lingual aspect doesn’t work. Perhaps the point of the A is preventing the ‘prifysgol’ being read before the ‘Aberystwyth’, having of the unfortunate effect of dislocating the welsh portion of the logotype.
Also curious is the strange swoosh. Used extensively as a graphic device on lots of publications and screen based media, it works better. When used with the logo it seems to lose it’s nerve and ends up being a sad little frown rather than a more confident extension of the A. The way that it tapers means it’s less clear as a flat graphic and ends up suggesting a ribbon, but without really being either.
Available in colour and monochrome
I notice on the website and printed publications that a buttery yellow Pantone 123 is used as a background to the logo, but the guidelines don’t specify this is a requirement. Perhaps to give the university some room for manoeuvre. The solid yellow allied with the crossing swooshes device used on the site and in print give the logo a bit more impact. Aberystwyth don’t provide any portrait orientation of the logo, but as is standard they do provide monochrome and reversed versions. The single colour works well to unify the elements of the logo,and I was surprised not to see it used much on the site.
A solid implementation of the the familiar technique of using a shield to suggest history and tradition, undermined by a not fully resolved treatment of the demands of being bi-lingual. Would have liked to see more made of the strong visuals present in the shield. Also think if colour is to be used then perhaps develop a palette of colours to compliment the existing colours of the shield.