Harvard University Logo History

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Harvard, one of the world’s most prestigious and renowned institutions, has a rich history beyond its academic excellence.

From its early days to the present, Harvard’s logos tell a unique story of tradition, excellence, and change. Whether you’re a Harvard alum, a logo design enthusiast, or simply curious about the world of academia, this journey promises to be enlightening and enjoyable.

Join us as we dive deeper into this famous logo.

Brief History of Harvard 

Harvard University is renowned as one of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions. Founded in 1636, it has grown into a vast complex and is a prominent member of the Ivy League, celebrated for its academic and research achievements. 

With a student body exceeding 20,000, Harvard offers over 3,700 courses and assignments, thoughtfully curated by a dedicated faculty of nearly 2,400 professors. The university’s structure includes one college, twelve undergraduate and postgraduate studies schools, and many associated facilities.

Harvard Logo 

When you hear the word Harvard, what first comes to mind? Their top-notch educational system? Their school campus? 

You may think of those two things, but one of the factors that made Harvard known to many people is the university’s shield logo.

Unlike other university logos we tackled, Harvard has retained its very first logo up until now. Well, of course, the different branches have their reiteration of the original logo, but the main logo design of the university hasn’t changed since the beginning.


The 1843 seal of Harvard University displays the inscription ‘Academiae Harvardiare Nov Ang Sigillum’ within the outer frame. Inside, a shield is depicted with a pointed lower tip, adorned with three books – two at the top and one at the bottom. 

Each book represents a syllable of the motto ‘veritas,’ which means ‘truth.’ Encircling the shield is the inscription ‘Christo et ecclesiae,’ written in capital letters. Notably, the seal’s history can be traced back to its original design in 1836 by President Quincy, who discovered its sketch in the archives. In 1843, the governing body voted to adopt this seal as the university’s official document signature.

The Harvard Shield was officially introduced on September 8, 1836, during the Bicentennial celebration. It all began with a white banner displaying the shield placed above a large tent in the Yard. Interestingly, the shield’s history dates back much further, as President Josiah Quincy discovered an old sketch of it in the College Archives, where it had been forgotten for many years.

As part of the famous university logos, the Harvard shield bearing the books became integral to the university’s official brand, featuring the seal alongside a two-level nameplate positioned to the right. Occasionally, this crest is encircled by an ornamental wreath, with the university’s name displayed on a ribbon below the wreath.

Harvard Logo Design Elements

We’ll unravel the secrets behind Harvard’s timeless branding, from the shield to the typography, colors, and symbolism. Check it out below:


The Harvard emblem includes the Latin motto “Veritas” inscribed on three books. This Latin term can be translated as “Verity” or “Truth.” 

Harvard School Emblems

Beyond the central Harvard emblem logo, each undergraduate house has its distinctive shield, reflecting something significant about the place. For example, Currier House’s shield displays the “Radcliffe Apple Tree,” symbolizing the source of funding for Currier House. 

In contrast, Eliot and Lowell Houses feature the coat-of-arms of the Eliot and Lowell families, and the Pforzheimer House emblem combines crimson, representing Harvard, with black, symbolizing Radcliffe.

Check out the different Harvard School emblems below:

Harvard Business School

Harvard College

Harvard Extension School

Harvard School of Dental Medicine

Harvard Divinity School

Harvard Graduate School of Design

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences


The iconic crimson color, now official at Harvard, was selected through a vote in 1910, but its history reaches back even further. In 1858, the Harvard crew team donned crimson scarves during a regatta. Interestingly, before 1910, magenta was nearly as popular as crimson among students’ color preferences.

Choosing the right colors is just as important as the other design elements if you want to design your university logo. Check out our blog on understanding color theory to learn more about choosing the right colors for your logo. 


The Harvard logo is designed with the Garamond typeface, a timeless and elegant font choice that imparts a sense of tradition and sophistication. 

Garamond’s graceful letterforms and balanced proportions contribute to the logo’s aesthetic appeal, making it not just a symbol of Harvard, but also a representation of the institution’s enduring legacy and its dedication to scholarly pursuits.

Do you want to use an iconic font like the Harvard logo? Check out the typography trends for 2023!

Design Your University Logo Today!

The Harvard logo is a testament to the power of solid branding and the art of creating a visual identity that stands the test of time. It encapsulates Harvard’s rich history, values, and commitment to excellence, showcasing the importance of a well-crafted logo for any institution.

Now, if you’re inspired to design your university logo or any logo, look no further than BrandCrowd! Apart from our logo maker tool, we also have advertising templates, such as Facebook Covers, Twitter Headers, Thank You Cards, and many more that can help you bring your vision to life. 

Get started with your design today!

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