Pentagram Rebrands Massachusetts’ Historic Amherst College

Pentagram Rebrands Massachusetts’ Historic Amherst College

Pentagram has rebranded Amherst College, a private liberal arts college founded in the Western Massachusetts town of Amherst all the way back in 1821.

The academic institution originally took its name from the town and the town in turn took its name from Lord Jeffery Amherst, a colonial-era military figure.

However, recent historical investigation has determined that Lord Jeffery Amherst, the commander of British forces in North America during the French and Indian War, quite possibly supported the idea of dispensing blankets laced with the smallpox virus to Indians—an early example of biological warfare.

Given this information, Amherst College decided to abandon their longtime unofficial mascot, “The Lord Jeffs” or just “The Jeffs”, and adopt a new official mascot.

After what is said to have been a lengthy nomination process and a campus-wide vote the college adopted the prehistoric mammoth as its new mascot; “The Mammoths” beat out finalists “The Hamsters”, an anagram of the word Amherst, and “The Poets”, a reference to the famous American poet Emily Dickinson who was born in the town of Amherst and studied at the Amherst Academy (the precursor to Amherst College).

The eventual winning mascot name, “Amherst Mammoths”, was inspired by the skeletal remains of a Columbian Mammoth, the second largest in the world, housed at Amherst’s Beneski Museum of Natural History.

Pentagram was subsequently commissioned to design the new Amherst mammoth icon and to revamp the athletic and institutional identity systems for the college. Two versions of the mammoth mark were created, a full-figure version depicting the creature moving forward, and a version featuring just the mammoth’s head with its distinctive tusks.

In addition to the new mammoth marks, Pentagram’s design team created several alternate icons including a redesign of the college’s nearly 200 year-old academic seal that was affixed to the diplomas awarded to the graduates at Amherst College’s first commencement in the summer of 1825. The seal, which has been revised several times over the last two centuries, is composed in a double circle and features a sun radiating above the college’s Latin motto “Terras Irradient” (Let them enlighten the Lands). An open book completes the composition.

The words “Sigill. Coll. Amherst. Mass. Nov. Ang. MDCCCXXV” which translates to “Seal of Amherst College, Massachusetts, New England, 1825.” is set in all-caps around the perimeter of the circular crest.

The previous Trajan font is also updated with the identity system’s new primary typeface Tiempos, a contemporary Roman typeface designed by the Klim Type Foundry based in New Zealand, and the motto is set in the system’s new san serif typeface Setimo.

In addition to Tiempos and Setimo, typefaces primarily used for the revamped academic identity system, the Pentagram team introduced Soho that is used in all-caps for athletics and spirit applications.

Two revised versions of the Amherst “A” monogram also set in Tiempos, a sunburst graphic element, an updated colour palette, and new logos for Amherst’s four giving societies complete the identity tool kit.