in Branding

Save our logo?

Proposed athletic rebrand on the right

Brand New reports a tiff going on at a proposed rebrand of Michigan State University’s athletic logo.

Rather swiftly, message boards rallied to boycott the proposed logo in various ways, including chanting “Keep our logo — clap-clap — Keep our logo — clap-clap — Keep our logo — clap-clap” at upcoming home games and the obligatory Facebook group, named The Old Spartan Logo, now has more than 31,000 fans. Shortly after havoc began to wreak MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis issued a statement:

“The Spartan logo, posted on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site, is a single element of a comprehensive brand and identity project that will be unveiled in April by Michigan State athletics,” Hollis said in the statement. “As in all branding, the power of a single symbol cannot be appreciated or measured outside the context of the total presentation.”

The controversy has gotten so out of hand, that even the men’s basketball coach has had to chime in on all the rankling about the new look:

“Of all the days, this would be the dumbest time to talk about it, except I’m so disappointed with our group of alums that are complaining about it that it’s a great time to talk about it for two minutes,” Izzo said when asked for his thoughts on the change. “It’s a lot bigger than the team; it’s a lot bigger than the program. It’s about our athletic department and our university, which is way bigger than one game or one season.

“I have been mystified out of my mind over it. Not to make it bigger than it is, but to me, it’s a small deal.”

I suppose the question worth asking is, was their a way for Michigan State to head off the “controversy” at the gulch? Or is this just a whole lot of ado about nothing? Seems to take something that’s usually a positive and turns it into a negative and that’s never a good thing.

  1. This was my first thought. Why weren’t there other people involved in the process like students, etc., before this all went down? I mean, I’m sure someone was intrepid and ahead of them, but if they’d been proactive about it either before or after, it’d have done a lot to quell the rancor. Lesson learned, I suppose.

  2. I think part of the problem is the way in which the logo was discovered – in a trademark database. If the athletics department and Nike (who designed parts of this) wanted better buy-in, they should have involved the students earlier on and in a much more prominent role.

  3. I completely agree with Rob. Without having seen them side-by-side, I would have thought they were the same one (which I’ll admit is easier to say as an outsider). Is there any chance that they anticipated this reaction, and thus went with the milder change? And considering this, did they do an appropriate level of research in developing and/or deciding on the new design?

  4. I can understand the loyalty to the old logo among some MSU constituents who might actually notice the difference, but from afar it strikes me how similar the two logos are.

    It is a far cry from, say, the Marquette Warriors becoming the Marquette Golden Eagles or U of North Dakota Fighting Sioux becoming IHaveNoIdeaWhatTheNewProposedNameWillBe (changes, imho, made for legitimate reasons).

    I’m curious what the overall rebranding strategy is for MSU, and why a relatively slight reworking of the logo was even necessary.

    Is it some ad/branding agency needing to justify their outrageous costs by reworking the logo and generating a bunch of philosophical reasons like “the smoother lines of the logo reflects MSU’s progressive efforts in research and education, and the removal of white gaps in the helmet illustrates the unity and continuity of the MSU community blah blah blah” (and yes that is completely made up).

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