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Angry Spartans

Reviewed Jan. 25, 2010 by Armin

Industry / Sports Tags /

MSU Athletics

Perhaps I have said this far too many times but, man, you don’t want to redesign university identities. And perhaps an even more thankless job, or a more dangerous one, is redesigning a university’s athletic identity. Last month, the Board of Trustees of Michigan State University filed for a trademark application for the redesigned icon of the Spartans, the athletic teams of Michigan State University. Last week, the blog Gang Green Red Cedar Message Board at SpartanTailgate.com uncovered the registration and exposed the perhaps imminent change. Students got pissed.

MSU Athletics

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.”

And UniWatch reports on a memo distributed to staff:

This logo is just a single element of a new comprehensive brand and graphic identity project undertaken by the Department of Athletics. They will be unveiling all elements of the new program in April. The new logo, and the other elements in the program, are the result of a two-year collaboration between MSU Athletics and a team of top designers from Nike.

So is all this complaining and sensitivity really worth it? Is the proposed Spartans icon really that different from the old one that people are so enraged by it? It’s not like they are taking away the Spartan helmet and replacing it with a birthday hat. 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. One thing is for sure though, both the old and new have their own flaws so it really is a toss-up between which one is better: The eyes of the old one like it’s ready for a nap, the new one is more menacing; the helmet shape of the old one looks more aerodynamic, the new one looks like it slammed against a wall; and, honestly, neither resolves the top brush-like appendix that I’m sure has an official name. On fear of enraging more than 31,000 logo opposers, all I can say is, “Relax, this too shall pass.”

Thanks to Cameron Roberson for first tip.



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