The Seminoles are the athletic teams that represent Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, FL. They are members of the NCAA Division I level, competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Seminoles have 20 teams, 9 men and 11 women, and have collectively won 12 national titles, including the 2013 championship in football, which in the collegiate realm is, like, a big fucking deal. Last week — after a leak at a Walmart store — the FSU Seminoles introduced a new identity, designed by Nike, that they assure us (three or four times) has been approved by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, given how much discussion there has been about using Native American names, motifs, and personifications in sports (i.e., Google “Redskins name”).
At first glance, the new Florida State Brand Identity System may look revolutionary. It’s bold and intriguing. It’s designed to serve as an evolution of an already iconic identity and position the brand for the future.
Type tells a story. The right typeface, used consistently, builds character. The Seminoles of Florida call themselves the “Unconquered People,” descendants of just 300 Indians who managed to elude capture by the U.S. army in the 19th century. The custom display alphabet is a powerful element within Florida State’s brand identity. The typography incorporates distinctive inline styling, unique serifs and structural characteristics that are exclusive to Florida State Athletics. These elements create a powerful, exclusive look that distinguishes the wordmarks from other institutions. This custom alphabet, appropriately named “Unconquered” is unmistakably Seminole. A custom numeral set has been included as an enhancement to the primary typeface.
The biggest and most breath-holding change in the identity is the update of the Seminole Head logo, one of the most iconic college logos. The update is pretty good. The expression has changed from mysery to something a little more aggressive and purposeful. The paint strips now don’t look like bacon. The feather looks much more like a feather and by only using “FSU” instead of “Florisa State” in it, it becomes easier to reproduce and read at smaller sizes. There are still some weird things about it, like the ear and cheekbone representations, but it’s an improvement nonetheless.
The new patterns are interesting, not amazing but good enough to add some texture to the uniforms. The new “Unconquered” font is no more and no less than what you expect of custom Nike college typography. The script mark used in the baseball uniforms is so not good; it’s clunky, disproportionate, and with serifs in all the wrong places.
In commissioning the creative changes, Florida State welcomed Nike’s concept of making the uniforms even more symbolic of its relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida while maintaining its iconic look. The Seminole patchwork on the football jersey sleeves contain the Tribe’s symbols for Arrow, Man on Horse, and Fire with the helmet spears crossing in the back representative of the crossed bars of the state flag.
As usual for Nike, it’s the uniforms that really stand out and have a significant positive impact in the new look. (It helps that they have it down to a science how to take super sexy shots of them). The pattern is nicely implemented in the football shirt, the numerals look convincing, the custom font looks kinda hot in the back of the track/cross country jersey going from top to bottom, and the embroidered Seminole Head logo reproduces remarkably well in various sizes, positions, and textures. Overall, it’s an exciting improvement for FSU but for us designers it’s yet another formulaic Nike identity.