The University of Virginia Athletics Department announced a new athletics brand identity on Friday with a revamped V-Sabre logo, a pair of secondary logos, and secondary colors included. The brand update also included a new font and new numerals as well.
The official release page can be found here – make sure you read there and watch the embedded video below for some of the official department information on the effort. A quick glance at the first logos released and video are below; you can look at alternate color versions in these two message board posts here and here:
As part of the brand roll-out, Virginia Director of Athletics Carla Williams was quoted on the Virginia Cavaliers social media: “In every mark in this new system I see us, and it is uniquely us. It is bold, creative, strong, innovative, competitive and fierce. It is exactly who we are, and I can’t wait to share it with the rest of Wahoo Nation.”
The work was developed by Nike’s Global Identity Group (GIG) in conjunction with UVA over an 18-month process. Per the school’s news release: “Nike’s GIG team works with a select number of its sideline partners each year to update the athletics department’s brand identity based on the goals provided by the institution.”
Within the last 10 years, the Nike GIG group has worked with fellow ACC schools North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest for example. Nike also worked with Georgia in 2013; Williams worked at Georgia as an executive associate athletic director at that time. UVA Deputy Athletics Director Jim Booz also worked in athletic administration at Georgia at that time after leaving two roles at Virginia from 2004-2011.
Here is a look at how UVA’s new brand identity compares to other schools that have gone through the same process in recent years.
Georgia – 2013
Georgia worked with Nike over a 15-month period to develop an innovative and cohesive athletic brand identity, according to this link. Here are some excerpts from that link. A review from UnderConsideration.com can be read here on the Georgia update and a Reddit forum thread can be found here.
“We’re excited about this program’s visual guidelines, which embrace the history and tradition of Georgia Athletics and positions the Georgia brand to reach a continually expanding and evolving audience,” said UGA Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “This program will also bring a more consistent look to our logos, uniforms, field markings and other areas where our marks are displayed.”
“The logo is strong, iconic and ferocious, accurately reflecting characteristics of the animal itself as well as the spirit of Georgia Athletics.”
“The long-standing color palette of red, black, white and silver has been refined to allow for instant team identification. A newly-developed customized primary and secondary letter and number font will provide a consistent, distinctive look for all Bulldog athletics teams. The graphic “GEORGIA” and “BULLDOGS” wordmarks will become consistent visual symbols of the Georgia Athletics organization, and the Bulldog logo has been refined in order to reflect the strong, iconic characteristics of the animal itself as well as the spirit of The University of Georgia Athletics.”
“The custom font fuses modern foundational forms with universal functionality. To assist in creating a cohesive look for a wide variety of athletic communications, a custom display typeface and numeral set has been designed as an enhancement to the overall identity.
The letterforms are sturdy and powerful, drawing inspiration from the bulldog’s anatomy as well as the most notable North Campus fixture-The Arch.”
Virginia Tech – 2016
Virginia Tech worked with Nike over in 2015 and 2016 to refresh its uniforms and brand. Some of the changes were outlined in this TechSideline.com article. As noted there, there isn’t much media coverage to be found via a Google search and the original brand link no longer works at HokieSports.com.
The Hokies announced it on social media here for example. The caption there notes: “We’re excited to share our brand refresh, honoring our past & positioning us for the future!”
TSL quoted VT AD Whit Babcock from a previous interview:
“Nike, at no charge to us, they pick about four or five schools each year that are their schools, and they go in with what they call the Nike Graphic Identity Group — GIG. They come in and they pull all your uniforms, and they take pictures all over campus. And what’s amazing is how, over time, there’s creep away from your logo, the colors start to vary a little bit, one coach in one sport wants to use cursive, the other wants to use this, and before long all your consistency is gone.
So the Nike Graphic Identity Group comes back in, and they clean up your wordmarks, they get the colors back right, they changed our font to be more consistent …Nike can give you some off the wall stuff too, and they can present that, but it’s always up to the school to pick what we’ll accept.
So this also took place back in October , and what will now be unveiled later this year and into the fall is more consistent colors, more consistent fonts, our own Chicago maroon, Hokie maroon type thing, all the same numerical fonts, all the same script and it’s like, “Let’s bring this back, and we can have some flash, but let’s bring this back to class and a tight, clean look.”
Here are the Virginia Tech and Virginia fonts.
North Carolina – 2015
North Carolina worked with Nike for approximately 15 months to develop a brand refresh. It announced the changes in 2015. UNC.edu released a pair of articles here and here discussing the new branding. Some excerpts from those links follow.
“Todd Van Horne has been part of Nike’s brand identity process for more than 30 teams and schools. He was there when the company helped the Denver Broncos completely remake their logo and marks in 1996, he was there last week when Army transitioned to Army West Point and introduced its own brand and identity system, and he was there for dozens of changes in dozens of places in-between. But Van Horne, the global creative director at Nike, had never been part of a brand identity process quite like the one that began at Carolina in the fall of 2013.”
“So the many permutations of the NC—sometimes even across the same uniforms for a specific sport—are gone and one unified NC will be used across the department. No longer should you encounter a rack of Carolina t-shirts with a rainbow of “Carolina blue” hues. Argyle will expand from men’s basketball to the rest of the athletic department, the strutting ram is officially back in play, and there’s a unique typeface that will be used on all athletic department gear.”
“As part of the updated identity, all 28 North Carolina varsity sports, beginning in fall 2015, will showcase consistent colors, logos, lettering and numerals. The change will expand to all sports in the upcoming seasons.
To ensure consistency across all applications, North Carolina will introduce a refreshed primary logo, which will be adopted by all sports teams. The interlocking NC logo dates from the 1800s and has been rebuilt to balance its size and scale.
In addition, the argyle pattern – which has been used primarily on the men’s basketball uniform since 1991 – will be adopted as a secondary identity for use by all teams.”
“To complement the primary colors of Carolina Blue and white, all 28 sports will have Navy blue, black and metallic silver included in a secondary color palette.”
Wake Forest – 2019
Wake Forest announced a fresh, new look last year. It worked with Nike’s GIG group beginning in 2017 per this official news release. Excerpts follow.
“Wake Forest Athletics engaged in the partnership with Nike in the fall of 2017 in an effort to enhance its branding and create a more consistent look across all of its teams. Consistency is a key element in branding, and with varying shades of gold and differing font and number styles, the overall look of Wake Forest jerseys, merchandise, collateral, signage, and other items had become rather inconsistent over the years.”
“Wake Forest Athletics and the GIG team collaborated closely, reviewing and refining recommendations, conducting additional interviews and focus groups, and ultimately, developing a refreshed look that incorporates subtle enhancements to the WF mark, an updated color palette, a new custom font, and the introduction of two additional complementary official marks. The enhancements will provide a more consistent, unified, updated look across all teams while also helping the Demon Deacons’ retail and branding partners better serve the fans with the official Wake Forest Athletics brand across a wide range of apparel, applications and media.”
“With the updated look, Wake Forest Athletics has standardized its gold, marrying the more traditional gold with a shade that is more practical to use in print production and will appear more consistent across a variety of fabric types and other mediums. The color palette has also been updated with the addition of dark steel grey, a color that reflects the hard-nosed toughness of Demon Deacon student-athletes and will be a fitting accent to the classic black and gold. Metallic gold remains in the color palette for limited use.”
“The introduction of two new complementary official marks is another exciting element of the updated branding. A top hat joins the popular walking Deacon as official marks that may be seen on uniforms in the coming months and will eventually be available on apparel and other merchandise as the rollout of the new branding continues. The walking Deacon, a mark derived from the design of the statue outside of Gate 1 at McCreary Plaza at BB&T Field, has been in limited use for a few years but is now an official mark approved for a broad range of uses.”
Pittsburgh – 2019
Another ACC member announced a refresh jointly with Nike earlier in 2019. According to this release from Pitt, the new brand identity was the culmination of a two-year collaboration. One more link with information is here. More information on the project can be found via Pitt.edu. Excerpts follow from the latter link.
“Our branding will pay homage to a proud past but with 21st century ambitions. It evokes our legends while anticipating future greatness,” said Director of Athletics Heather Lyke. “There is power in the Pitt brand and these colors and marks will maximize that strength for Panthers past, present and future.”
“In addition to reinterpreting the blue and gold color palette — which includes updated primary and secondary colors — and solidifying the famous script Pitt as the official identity of Pitt athletics, the panther head logo underwent a fierce, modern makeover and the Cathedral of Learning served as inspiration for the entire graphic package.”
“The goal for the new identity was to create unity and consistency across all of the University’s athletic teams. The new blue and gold colors are a reinterpretation of the color palette reminiscent of past success but with a contemporary feel.
The mark that will stand out the most is the new panther head, said Sean Butterly, art director for Nike GIG. “It was inspired directly from the panther head in the fountain at the front of the Cathedral of Learning, but also is an amalgamation of all the panther statues around campus.”
Here is Pitt’s reveal video – the two Nike representatives worked on the Virginia brand update.
Army – 2015
Army worked with Nike to announce new brand identity in 2015. The Army Times reported on the 18-month development process and changes here. Some excerpts follow.
“Before the uniforms came the big reveal: The “Athena Shield,” which will take the place of the sword-wielding Black Knight-behind-the-“A” logo that still adorned Michie Stadium’s midfield stripe as of Monday night.
It features a helmet, sword and star on a shield background in traditional gold and black colors, a design meant to be “evocative” of the history of West Point, said Col. Ty Seidule, head of West Point’s history department, who worked closely with Nike marketing and design staffers during the 18-month rebranding process.”
“Cadets and other attendees received a T-shirt with the new branding following the event. The athletic department’s release on the rebranding includes everything from details on the new “Army Stencil” font (or “identity typography”) to a breakdown of the colors used in the designs — shades of gray, black and gold that “draws inspiration from the components of gunpowder, the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) and the Long Gray Line.””
Illinois – 2014
Illinois worked with Nike for nearly two years on its process according to its official release in 2014. Some excerpts from that news release follow.
“Illinois and Nike collaborated on a nearly two-year brand evolution program to enhance and expand upon the celebrated marks of the university, honoring the history and integrity of academics and athletics, key characteristics associated with the Illinois brand. With the goal of developing an innovative and consistent athletic identity that pays tribute to the university’s legacy and tradition, Illinois and Nike worked with student-athletes, coaches, administrators and alumni throughout the process. The end result is a visual hierarchy that plays off the brand attributes of the Fighting Illini.”
“The connections between the strokes have evolved to tie in with the custom alphabet and numeral set, which features subtly curved joints. In addition to the updated “I”, a custom alphabet and “Illinois” and “Fighting Illini” logotypes have been created for use across all sports teams. The oblique letterforms are inspired by the speed and elusive lateral movements synonymous with Red Grange, one of the most celebrated athletes in Illinois Athletics history. The split color design nods to the concept of duality in the school’s motto, “Learning and Labor,” and represents the state of Illinois as a crossroads between East and West.”
“Continuing with the themes of duality and symbolism, the powerful storytelling elements of Memorial Stadium and the great mystique of Red Grange were combined to create an aggressive, contemporary look of speed in the new Victory Badge. Inspired by superheroes, the primary “I” logo is at the center of the badge, encased by two facing F’s that symbolize the fight that the Illini display when they take the field of play. … Through the development of this secondary logo, University of Illinois adds a modern element to complement the classic look of the primary mark.”
“The Victory Badge is grounded by vertical stripes that reference the columns at Memorial Stadium.”
“A custom pattern has been designed to represent the Fighting Illini and enrich the overall identity package. The pattern draws inspiration from the 200 columns that line the East and West walls of Memorial Stadium.”
Many other schools have undergone the branding process as well. If interested, links to other sources follow.
- Tennessee (Introduction of a refined primary logo, the “Power T” to be used consistently by all intercollegiate athletic teams. Update to Checkerboard mark. Custom alphabet, logotypes and numeral set. Primary and secondary color palettes.)
- Tennessee (Deadspin)
- Arizona State (A primary and secondary color palette. A custom Sun Devil Athletics font. An exclusive and contemporary mark to be used consistently across all Sun Devil teams. First, the rebranding adds two colors to the athletics color palette of maroon and gold: copper, for its prominence in Arizona history, and black, a long-anticipated return to the Sun Devil attitude.)
- Utah State (These uniforms will highlight the use of consistent color across all sports and will feature new logos, lettering and numerals that are exclusive to the university. … Over the course of the identity development process, a strong focus was placed on respecting the historic traditions of Utah State, while representing the future direction of the university.)
- West Virginia (To accompany the iconic Flying WV logo, the GIG process created an exclusive numeral style, wordmarks, color palette, special typography and fonts as well as extended expressions including treatments, patterns and textures solely for WVU Athletics.)
- Baylor (The iconic interlocking BU will continue to serve as Baylor athletics’ primary mark. With a focus on legacy and tradition, this mark has evolved in a way that respects the integrity of the past, while representing our continual push toward the future.)
- What Fascinates Me blog roundup (California, Oregon State, and others)