As the new decade begins, the Indiana State University Sycamores are marching on with a brand new logo.
Just days before Indiana State University’s men’s basketball team set off for their conference tournament (where the three-seed would face a devastating upset, losing to Missouri State University in the first round), with great anticipation, leaders of the university unveiled a new logo, essentially retiring the primary logo that served the university for 32 years. The old logo, which featured the state of Indiana with a star over Terre Haute’s location, with “Sycamores” scrawled across the state will now serve as the “vintage” logo according to the University. Additionally, while the school’s primary colors, blue and white, will remain unchanged, the university will now use a cool gray as an accent as opposed to black, which has been used in the past.
Motivation for the change began in 2016, shortly after Sherard Clinkscales took over as Director of Athletics at ISU. Clinkscales told the local Terre Haute paper, the Tribune Star, that, “We want to appeal to a new generation of students. One challenge all universities are facing is keeping enrollment up, so you want an identifier that a new generation can relate to. This new logo will be able to take that on.”
Old Hat Creative, a design firm based out of Oklahoma, is the firm responsible for the new logo. Old Hat was founded in 2004 by Zac Logsdon, who, after spending several years as a graphic designer for the University of Oklahoma Athletics Department launched the company. Old Hat’s focus is on athletics, and has worked with over 200 organizations in many leagues, including NCAA, MLS, MLB, NFL, NBA, and MiLB. The team of 12 at Old Hat is responsible for the identity of USA Softball, which will represent the U.S. at the upcoming Olympic Games, and has created logos and brand elements for over 100 sports teams and organizations.
This logo design was not Old Hat’s first interaction with the Sycamores. Several marketing enlisted the design talents of Old Hat, and members of the Sycamore Athletics staff had worked with the organization at organizations they’d represented before joining the Sycamores. The design process for the new logo began in Spring 2018, and the team at Old Hat soon learned how fervent the affinity for the previous logo was. The design team quickly realized that the outline of the state was a point of pride for Sycamore fans and the athletics staff alike, and would be central to the new identity. Practical considerations of the previous logo, like its difficult reproducibility due to the intricacy of the state outline helped the team move toward generating a stylized state design that would enhance reproducibility. Directed that “Sycamores” should be the only text, the team proposed the addition of the letter “I” to add a visual element to the logo while also solidifying the relationship of the logo to Indiana. With these directives in mind, the team tweaked the design until the final logo was approved.
In addition to the new primary logo, additional logos that will be used include using the state outline as the “I” in Indiana, paying homage to designs used during the Larry Bird era.
CEO of Old Hat, Zac Logsdon commented on the process, saying, “These projects always have challenges. There’s no such thing as a logo redevelopment that doesn’t have its fair share of hurdles to jump. This one was no better or worse than any … despite the negative comments that have come out, our research showed that fans were very open to a change.” Logsdon remarked that despite push back on the designs, his team expects that, and Old Hat believes its role is to meet their organization’s expectations, despite differing visions, adding, “Regarding negative feedback from fans: It’s always a challenge changing anything that fans have affinity for, especially at school with as much history as ISU has. A passionate fan base is something every organization strives for … As long as Indiana State remains strong in the face of negativity, fans will come around.”
Social media certainly has allowed fans to express their disapproval of the new logo, but with more than 20 years of experience, Logsdon, expressed, “I’ve never seen a new logo launch for an existing program that wasn’t met with a lot of negativity … When the Big Ten Conference released their new logo a few years ago, the amount of hate that came out about that one was more then I’d ever seen. People were relentless. And honestly, I was one of them. I hated it. But now the B1G mark is iconic and personally, I think it’s a work of art.”
Editorializing here, this Sycamore alumnus and former ISU cheerleader is quite fond of the logo. I think it’s dynamic, bold, and clean. It respects the heritage of the old logo, and despite the poor performance of our men’s basketball team at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament this year, the logo really popped on screen. Based on social media reaction, I seem to be in the minority here. Reach out to NJB to let us know what you think of the new logo.
One thing is sure in light of all of the logo reveal – Sycamore fans are passionate, and emotions run deep for the logo that represents the beloved university. More information about Old Hat Creative and the design process can be found here.
By: Dan Burkett