After an invitation-only reception Friday at Twin Arrows Casino Resort to debut its new branding, Northern Arizona University planned to unveil its new athletic logo and uniforms to the public at Saturday’s annual Blue and Gold Spring Football Game.
However Saturday’s snowstorm left Lumberjack Stadium covered with inches of fresh powder, so the public’s first viewing came at the fan fest that moved indoors. The game itself was rescheduled to today at 2 p.m. on the practice fields across from the Walkup Skydome.
The logo, with a sleeker and simpler styling than its predecessor, came about as a result of what Lisa Campos, the vice president for intercollegiate athletics, heard from interested parties during her first year on the job.
“It was probably after about a year of getting to understand the culture and NAU athletics in general,” Campos said. “We really wanted to create an identity that was going to show this forward movement. Something that our alumni and our supporters could be really proud of. Something that demonstrates strength and inspiration.”
And in terms of the look itself?
“Then, practically, something that was more clear and current,” Campos added.
After attempting to include the sage green of the university logo since 2005, the logo returns to the basic blue-and-gold color scheme of the athletics department.
Additionally, rather than include seven separate colors in the logo, it now is comprised of just blue, gold and white, with the type font changing depending on the background.
SME Branding, the same firm that helped create the Big Sky Conference’s redesign, was consulted through the creative process.
“SME is an industry leader in brand development and strategy,” Campos said. “They lead the nation in this kind of work. We looked at different companies and that was the best fit for us.”
The company worked with a committee of faculty at the university. The committee included: James Bowie, a sociology professor, Sandra Kowalski and Rachel Dueck from marketing, Erin Bertelsen from alumni relations and Darren D’Attilio and Tanya Vogel from the athletics department.
Campos said the committee and SME spoke with current and former members of the university in an effort to gather a better understanding of what people wanted. From the interview process, the school created and presented concepts for a design to 15 focus groups. With the feedback from their groups the final product was created.
She also warned that the process of switching over to the new logo across campus will not happen overnight and the process will occur over the next year.
Work remaining includes designing and ordering uniforms for the winter and spring sports, as only the fall sports uniforms have been presented. Additionally, the basketball court and football field in the Walkup Skydome must be updated, as well as the volleyball court inside Rolle Activity Center.
The whole process occurred with the blessing of President John Haeger, who has continued to support Campos’ budget requests since her hiring at the end of March 2012.
“It’s an investment and he completely supported it,” Campos said. “From day one he has supported intercollegiate athletics. We were really fortunate that he was on board with it and I think he really saw what it could do for the institution.”
She estimated that this round of logos will cost half the price to place onto uniforms and athletic gear as the last round.
Denise Thompson, assistant athletics director for communications, said the cost to date for the design and launch has been about $75,000. That includes the roll-out reception, fashion show, signage and video production.
Additional expenses will include rebranding the volleyball court in Rolle Activity Center and football field end zones as well as changing out the old athletics logo in various facilities using low-cost stickers and patches. The approximate costs for these projects is about $80,000, Thompson said.
She said the new uniforms will not cost extra because many of the old ones were set to be replaced anyway — the football team has not had a full set of new uniforms in several years.
The university elected to begin the rebranding process when it did, Campos said, in part to try to further itself as an institution while success on the playing fields and courts remained so high.
During this past athletic season, five of the six sports with a postseason tournament qualified to play, with four of the five finishing second or third during the Big Sky’s regular season. The football program made its first NCAA postseason appearance since 2003 and also finished second in the conference. The swim and dive program took home the Western Athletic Conference championship and the men’s cross country team finished second in the nation.
Northern Arizona won the Big Sky Presidents’ Cup, awarded to the school with the best overall athletic performance, for the 2012-13 season in Campos’ first year at the helm of the program. The university could be in line for another based on this past year’s performances.
The university bookstore and other retailers will begin to carry apparel with the new logo immediately.