I understand all the fuss about the logo. It’s a big deal for a lot of people because it’s visual representation of how they associate themselves with the university. They buy clothes with the logo, car magnets with the logo, baby onsies with the logo, can coozies with the logo…you get the idea. The logo meme has actually driven 60% as much traffic to this blog as the entire season plus the Glenn Winston reinstatement plus the dorm room incident plus the bowl game combined (to be fair, it’s because the new logo post got picked up by Dr. Saturday and EDSBS and that sent traffic out the gonzo).
So when the school goes out and changes the logo, the uprawr ensues. And it’s gonna happen every time the logo changes. Really, it is. We can look back in hindsight and say “well, this logo was better than that logo” but in a situation like this, all we want to do is look at the new logo, recognize that it’s different than the logo we have, and sound off about how it doesn’t fit our tradition.
But Izzo talked about the logo madness today (h/t State News), and he makes a really great point – “what tradition?” Really, what tradition does MSU have with our current logo? Izzo goes through and points out that we had that grisly guy that looks like your uncle Jim after he rolls off the couch after crashing at your parents crib because he drank too much eggnog at the Christmas party. Then we had the Bridge logo when we won the national championship in 2000 with the tribal print basketball unis (dude, we’re the Spartans, not the freakin’ Aztecs). Basketball currently uses the script-looking “State” logo on their unis, which the football team also used during the Bobby Williams era. The hockey team uses a different logo still.
Izzo press conference video after the jump…
Aside from the block S, Michigan State has been pretty light in the way of logo tradition than a lot of other schools (a la Texas, UCLA and Tennessee). That’s not to say we should continue to change the logo every couple of years; there’s not way to establish tradition without keeping things roughly the same over time.
But in truth, the new logo isn’t that much of a departure from the old logo. Sure, there are no longer spaces between the helmet and the plume. Sure, the chin and brow is a bit more pronounced. But as brand identity blog Under Consideration deftly points out:
I bet that if you asked any of the 31,000-plus Facebook fans to draw the logo from memory they would be as close to the old one as to the new one, mainly because all the significant elements are consistent.
Izzo seems to think the pending visual update is something MSU will keep for a quite a while. ”We’re finally going to say, that’s Michigan State,” Izzo said in the presser today (emphasis mine).
Just as Duke got a lot of flak when they got the black jerseys, and Kansas went into an upawr when Bill Self came in a put the absurdly large Jayhawk logo at center court in Allen Fieldhouse, the MSU fanbase have their collective undergarments in a less-than-optimal knotted formation. So it is.
But as soon as you see the Jayhawk on the floor of Allen Fieldhouse, or the black-and-blue unis from Duke, you know exactly who you’re watching.
The indication from Izzo is that the entire visual package, from the logo to the jerseys to the lettering, will be a cogent identity for Michigan State that will serve us for the foreseeable future. The goal of the new identity, obviously, is that whenever you see the elements that are part of the package, you’ll know immediately that you’re looking at Michigan State University. It’s hard to overestimate the tremendous amount of value that such an identity carries.
Consider the financial aspect. Athletic departments require a large amount of cash in order to operate and stay competitive. Like it or not, Big Time Athletics are a business, and those at the top of the heap are part of a large ecosystem of economics that churn through many, many millions of dollars. And a brand that is recognized nationwide sells a lot of merch.
Let’s put this in the context of something a lot us native Michiganders understand fairly well – automobiles. Michigan State, right now, is kind of like Volvo. It’s a very solid brand, it makes a highly functional product that does what it’s designed to do and it does it very well. Those who drive a Volvo usually love their Volvos. But Volvo doesn’t sell nearly as many cars as General Motors. GM sells a lot of cars, and it sells a lot of cars whether you love them or hate them. Florida, Texas and Michigan are loved and hated by many, but at the end of the day, they sell the most t-shirts, can coozies and car mangets in the college athletics world.
And as much as we would like to think we’re a nationally recognized brand, we are nowhere near the level of the Gators, the Longhorns or the like (according to the CLC, we’re not even in the top 75…following such athletic powers as #21 Clemson!!! #51 Montana!!! #69 Texas State University – San Marcos?!!). When you leave the Big Ten bubble, MSU just isn’t the brand power we like to think it is. A new visual identity doesn’t change that fact on it’s own. Winning is the most effective way to change the collective mentality of those who pay at least some attention to college sports. But consistency over time will help.
I realize many of you will argue that the old helmet logo is a perfectly good place to start the whole “consistency over time” concept. I’m not going to disagree with that. But I am at least willing to wait to see the entire visual package before making a final conclusion.