Competing in the NCAA’s Division I in the Southeastern Conference, the Arkansas Razorbacks are the 19 sports teams of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. As with any large American college, the fans are rabid about their teams and crazy about their iconography. A new identity, designed by Nike’s Graphic Identity Group, has been designed around the existing hog.
Arkansas and Nike collaborated on a nearly two-year brand evolution program to enhance and modernize the celebrated marks of the University, honoring the pride and rich tradition of academics and athletics, and the key attributes of the Arkansas brand. With the goal of developing an innovative and modern athletics brand identity while simultaneously recognizing the value of university’s history and tradition, Arkansas and Nike worked with student-athletes, coaches, administrators and alumni to compile input on the department’s brand attributes.
Equity has been built in the Razorback logo since its inception in 1910 when University of Arkansas students voted to change the official mascot from the Cardinal to the Razorback. While the primary Hog logo will remain unchanged, the secondary logo and typography will receive some refined updates consistent with Razorback Athletics attributes - Pride, Tradition, Responsibility, Competition, Relentless, Dedication, Passion and Fight.
To complement the primary mark, a forward-facing Razorback has been designed to use as a secondary mark for the entire Razorback program. The logo is valiant and intimidating, and serves as a contemporary representation of the Razorbacks’ straightforward style of play. Through these brand identity updates, the University of Arkansas creates separation and distinction in the marketplace while respecting the past and representing the future.
The new forward-facing hog is a nice addition and complement to the running hog, although they seem to come from slightly different litters. The front view is almost exactly the face of the side view but not quite. I’m not trying to just be a pain in the ass in these Nike rebrands by pointing out minor things but, in this case, you either go with a full facsimile of the features — tusk shape, eyes, ears, etc. — or you do a clearly different rendition. Nonetheless, it’s a good addition (as you’ll see in the uniforms).
Type tells a story. The right typeface, used consistently, builds character. To assist in creating a consistent look for a wide variety of athletics communications, custom wordmarks for “Arkansas” and “Razorbacks” have been designed to enhance the overall brand.
The Razorbacks script was designed as a nod to the heritage of the sports of baseball and softball at Arkansas. Inspired by the fluid stroke of handwriting, the script is a modern rendition of a classic baseball look. The letterforms in the script are consistent with the design language in the primary typography and wordmarks, putting a contemporary twist on a traditional element of baseball and softball uniforms.
Of all the Nike wordmarks we’ve seen, this is one of the most interesting sets. (If only they would resist the urge to put spiky left-sided serifs on everything their work would be so much better). They have solved the multiple-diagonal kerning problems brought on by the abundance of “R”s and “K”s by slicing into the letters, creating a razor-sharp look. I’m not saying the approach or execution is perfect, but at least there is a slightly new way of treating the college sports clichéd type. Now, about that “script” wordmark: no, thank you. An “A” for effort in daringness to attempt a hybrid of a script and a spiky sans but the resulting shapes are extremely awkward and unbalanced; the elongated structure has no relationship anymore with the originals and, well, there is nothing really scripty about it. It’s just the original wordmark, tilted, scaled vertically, and slightly adjusted.
Then there are the uniforms, where Nike manages to make all the elements work great — even, perhaps, the script wordmark. (Okay, maybe not). One detail I would like to call attention to is the stitching on the next to last image above: I really like how they did a beefy stitch that gives the letters and numbers an embossed stroke. Also of note are the numerals and secondary, condensed “ARKANSAS” lettering on the back of the football jersey — how nice is that? Simple, straightforward, and clean. No spikes. Overall, another improved package with the usual logo/wordmark pratfalls of Nike’s Graphic Identity Group.