So I get off the plane in Minneapolis last night, whip out my new Magic Phone™ to check my e-mail, and I see that I’ve received 37 messages since I left NYC. As I begin to scroll through them, I see that about 30 of them are about the same thing: the apparent leak of a new Michigan State logo.
Most of the details are on that page I just linked to, plus there’s some follow-up info here, some message board reaction here, some patent/trademark documentation here and here, and probably an entire cable network devoted to the issue on channel 1273.
Honestly: I’ve always thought the Spartans logo looked a bit amateurish, and the new one — if that’s what it is — is hardly an improvement in that regard. Given how virtually every new mark foisted upon us these days tends to feature gratuitous beveling, shading, outlining, etc., this new design seems remarkably restrained. That’s not to say it’s better than the old mark, mind you (I definitely don’t think it passes the “Is it good or is it stupid?” test), but it hardly seems like a disaster, and I find it hard to get worked up about it one way or the other. But that’s just me.
Almost all the people who wrote to me about this yesterday made a point of noting that the new logo is the work of Nike, and that this was almost certainly the first step toward a Michigan State riflery uniform. What an overeager brood of conspiracy theorists you all are! Actually, you could be right, based on this note that was supposedly circulated to MSU’s PR staff yesterday:
This is just a heads up note that you may begin hearing (or may have already begun hearing) a buzz about a new Spartan helmet logo for athletics. The information below will help you answer any questions you may get in your colleges or from alumni, students, etc.
As part of the process of registering trademarks, a redesigned Spartan logo was posted on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office web site. The logo was subsequently reposted yesterday on several fan web sites.
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.
As communicators, I am sure you can appreciate that the power and appropriateness of a single symbol cannot be appreciated or measured outside the context of the total presentation.
I will ensure that the entire program is shared with you at the time of its unveiling.
So what will this “comprehensive” identity project entail? A hint comes from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous:
I have an inside source at Michigan State who was shown the logo along with an entire redesign of MSU athletics. It appears to be another sports rebranding strategy similar to what Nike has done with Oregon and Oregon State.
In the proposed plan, the shade of Spartan green with be noticeably different and consistent among varsity athletics. For the football team, the modern logo was paired with a bold helmet stripe and updated Nike uniforms.
So there you have it, in April Phil Knight will personally lead a march of Nike forces from Beaverton to East Lansing, where they’ll torch the entire town and maybe have their way with a few coeds to boot, the end.
Not eating the lutefisk, no how, no way: My flight out to Minnesota was pretty lively, because I was surrounded by guys who’ll be playing in the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships (including a team comprised of New York City cops). They told some good stories about last year’s tourney, when the temperature was 20 below, but mostly they talked about (1) playing “for the love of the game,” with absolute sincerity, and (2) drinking beer (and they were pretty damn sincere about that, too). A swell group of guys, and I look forward to watching them play on Lake Nokomis later today.
After I landed, I headed to the always wonderful Nye’s Polonaise Room, where I had dinner with Phil, Ricko, Teebz, James Huening (who says his friends call him Jimbo, so that’s what I’ll be calling him now on), and Robert Marshall (whose handlebar ’stache is an epic sight to behold). Kinda surreal to have so many Uni Watch kingpins gathered in one place — a summit meeting, for sure — and it dawned on me that I’m a pretty lucky fella to have all these great folks joining me in the Twin Cities this weekend. Thanks, guys.
As for the rest of you Twin Cities folks, I’ll see you tonight, 8pm, at Grumpy’s.
ITEM! Major Hockey News: As some of you know, there have been a lot of developments lately in the field of skate guards — basically reinforced shells that cover the skate boot and protect the player’s foot from wayward slapshots. There’s now been a major breakthrough on this front, and our own Teebz has all the details on his blog.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Oh great, CNOB — that’s corporate name on back (with thanks to Chris Ashworth). … Nice to see Nike and Schutt are aligning themselves with such high-credibility sports movies. … Latest issue of SABR’s Baseball Research Journal included this photo of the Polo Grounds. Leaving aside the issue of the insane amount of real estate in foul territory, what’s the deal with the odd-shaped infield cut-out at third base? Very strange. … Cycling news from Sean Clancy, who reports that there’s a new leader’s jersey for the 2010 Vuelta. … What happens to all those caps that get tossed onto the ice after a hat trick? The answer is here (with thanks to Chris Weber). … Another kicker currently wearing his wedding band on the field: Matt Stover (as noted by Doug Adams). … USC has won a logo spat with South Carolina (with thanks to Charlie Shields). … Interesting Texas Rangers note from Josh Jarmon, who writes: “I was listening to a radio show on here in Dallas earlier this week when one of the hosts, Mike Rhyner, mentioned a note about the Rangers’ first uniform. He said the R and the S were capitalized because those letters corresponded to the then-owner Robert Short’s initials. I had never heard this before.” Neither had I. Smells like an urban myth to me. Can anyone confirm or refute? … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here’s what may be the NHL’s first visor. … The current federal trial over marriage equality has led to an interesting logo-related lawsuit (with thanks to Jamie Costello). … I think I may have mentioned before that the LSU men’s and women’s hoops teams are wearing a sesquicentennial patch. What I definitely haven’t mentioned before is that you can download the official style guide for the sesquicentennial logo here (with thanks to Chris Mycoskie). … Here’s something you probably haven’t seen before: Pele warming up as a goalie (great find by Coachie Ballgames). … Did you know you may have been tying your shoelaces incorrectly? It’s true! Look here. I’m fairly certain this will generate a year’s worth of comments all on its own (blame Adam Brodsky). … A little birdie who’s been right about things before tells me (1) the Sabres will ditch the slug and go with their retro logo full-time next season, (2) the Maple Leafs will add hemline piping to their jerseys next season, and (3) the Predators will promote their alt design to primary status, and will have a new road jersey to match. … Magnificent gallery of paintings showing Heisman Trophy winners, dating all the way back to 1935, here (with thanks to Keith McCall). … Happy Birthday to my Forewords partner, Liz Clayton. Let’s have cake when we’re both back in Brooklyn!