The Duquesne Dukes are the athletic teams of Duquesne University of Pittsburgh, PA, a private Catholic university founded by members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (or Spiritans). The Dukes compete in Division I of the NCAA — six men’s teams and eleven women’s — as members of the Atlantic 10 Conference and while not as popular as other college teams they have enjoyed quiet, relative success over the years. With the goal to “re-energize, modernize, distinguish and elevate the overall image of Duquesne Athletics locally, regionally and nationally”, the Dukes recently introduced a new identity designed by Dayton, OH- and Irvine, CA-based ChangeUp (formerly Interbrand Retail).
Our new monogram is simple yet bold. It was designed to convey a sense of pride, strength and ferocity as well as pay homage to our heritage.
The narrow, angular features gives the monogram a gothic aesthetic and echoes our Spiritan flame. These subtle nods provide a connectedness to the larger, University brand while also establishing a clear and distinct identity for athletics.
The Duquesne wordmark shares a complementary design language with the monogram. Strong, vertical letters with angled accents create a very confident mark that has a bit of fierceness to it.
The first ‘U’ is shorter to provide a subtle visual cue of the verbal pronunciation of ‘Duquesne’. The arching of the base line forms a visual tie back to the many bridges of Pittsburgh.
The DUQ shorthand fulfills both a functional and fashionable role. Functionally, this lockup helps aid the proper pronunciation of “Duquesne.”
Fashionably, the truncated lockup is on-trend across collegiate and professional sports, providing additional design options for uniform and apparel design.
I realize that that’s a lot of logos to look at and at first I was going to write about each version one by one but I think it works better to look at them together and think of them as a family because they work really well together. First, I’ll address the old logos, which were fine but unsurprising within the world of college sports and the blackletter “D” perhaps played too much off of the Detroit Tigers logo.
The new logos are also unsurprising within the realm of college sports identities as they all rely on the tried and true condensed spiky aesthetic but, for the first time in a long time, I actually reacted positively to it as I think the different marks all add a new take on it. The primary monogram is bold and confident and the exaggerated angles that create an extra tall letter make it quite different from anything else out there. It’s unapologetically sharp and aggressive but somewhat elegant — the one thing that doesn’t work are the multiple strokes placed around it in some instances as it takes away its impact. The full wordmark complements the monogram and does a great job in NOT repeating the “D”. The “Q” is quite awesome and the rest of the characters are pretty well done. The shorthand “DUQ” is pretty great and I love how it’s symmetric yet asymmetric. It’s a sturdy, cohesive set of marks that speak the college sports language but, metaphorically speaking, with its own unique accent.
[The Bluff] typeface is named as a nod to Duquesne’s unique geographic location in Pittsburgh. Strong and condensed, with an aggressive appearance that comes through angled terminals, spiked serifs and wedge-shaped counter forms, this is a custom typeface built to complement our monogram and wordmarks. The numerals were designed to appear on uniforms for complete customization.
The headline custom typeface loses some of the uniqueness achieved in the logos and starts to look more like the rest of the condensed spiky fonts. The secondary custom typeface is a little awkward but its uppercase works really well with the logos to create the different program lock-ups.
Beyond monograms and wordmarks, the comprehensive design system helps add visual creativity for uniforms, apparel and collateral. Our primary brand colors (navy and red) are a core part of our University heritage and remain unchanged. The brand is built on navy blue, another connection to our Spiritan faith. The inclusion of ‘electric blue’ and ‘silver’ have been added to the palette to allow for fashion-forward design on apparel and uniforms as well as appeal to younger generations of fans.
The navy-based photography is gritty and moody to capture the drive and commitment of our athletes.
The white-based photography is about creating a dynamic visual that focuses on action and energy.
When I first saw this project in my inbox, I had it flagged to put the logo change in the Spotted section, then I reconsidered to put it in Noted, but then I saw these posters and the hero photography and that caught my attention and I thought it merited a closer review as these are really great. In the dark blue photographs I love how the monogram appears to be casting a red hue on the athletes while the word casts a white glow. They are very sport-y photos but they are strikingly executed. The white posters are pretty awesome too, with the large monogram smack in the middle and interacting with the photography, all in a nice crisp layout.
Uniforms are good. I don’t have much else to say. Fun fact that was shared with me: “Duquesne’s basketball coach was LeBron James’ high school coach, so Duquesne is one of only two schools (Ohio State being the other) that gets to wear the Nike/LeBron gear”.
Overall, as you might imagine my conclusion to be, I like this quite a bit. It’s very well done at operating within the expected norms of college sports identity but with enough of a unique point of view to make it more interesting than the rest.