Friday, February 12, 2010

New Spartan Green A Darker Shade

The color we know as Spartan green just got a little bit darker.

The new color, Pantone Matching System Color 567, was approved by the Board of Trustees this morning. It will be uniform across Michigan State, from signs and uniforms to flyers and university websites.

It's part of the universal branding scheme being undertaken by the athletic department and Nike, and the plan is for all uniforms to be of this shade of green. The new threads will be unveiled in April.

Currently, the MSU green is Pantone 341, which is the green we presently use on TOSSS.

The Lansing State Journal quotes President Lou Anna Simon as saying that the change will be gradual in some areas, like signs, because the university isn't going to pay for the immediate overhaul immediately. You'll see that in things like letterhead, where the existing supplies will be allowed to run out, then replaced by the new stuff.

Making a single shade of green uniform across the university will be a great step forward for the MSU's branding, given the disparate mess we currently have. I, for one, welcome this change with as much passion as I decried the proposed Spartan head change.

This time, MSU and Nike have gotten it right.

Texas To The Big Ten?

Now I know what you're thinking when you read that headline... "Whhhhhhaaaaaaa?"

My first thought was "That's crazy! And it makes NO sense." But then I started reading and it turns out it makes a lot of sense. And the Big Ten thinks so too.

The best breakdown for the argument for Texas I've read is here, on an Illini sports blog. I'll give a quick synopsis, but really, take ten minutes and read that. My figures and such are all from there.

Basically the argument goes like this: Money and Academics. The people who make actual decisions in the Big Ten are university presidents, and that is what matters to them. Sure, sports rivalries are great, the Big Ten is a Midwest league, there is a certain character blah blah blah. As Tom Cruise said, "Show me the money!"

Money: Texas made $12 million off the Big 12 TV contract last season, the average school in the Big 12 made $6. Every school in the Big Ten made $22. A large portion of that money comes from the Big Ten Network, which gets money from cable companies on a "per TV" basis. Adding a school like Iowa St. does NOTHING in increase Big Ten Network revenue, because everyone in Iowa already gets the channel. So to dramatically increase revenue for MSU, the Big Ten has to look at a school outside of its current viewing area. Texas is one of the biggest TV markets in America, and would dramatically increase the number of TVs getting the Big Ten Network. That increase in money along with money from a Championship game would increase the amount above $22 million, even when dividing it by 12 schools instead of 11. Texas would like it because it sets the floor of money they are getting every year much higher than it currently is.

Academics: All Big Ten schools are part of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), along with the University of Chicago (a former Big Ten member). This is the academic alliance of the Big Ten, and allows for educational and research cooperation among the universities. The Big Ten is made up of research institutions, while the Big 12 is not. Texas, being a research institution, is not a good educational fit in the Big 12 but would be in the Big Ten, where this addition would benefit both sides.

OK, that's all well and good, but it's still just a dream, right? Well consider this. The Big Ten wants to expand. They have to take someone. People keep mentioning OTHER Big 12 schools. Think about what happens to the Big 12 if a different school leaves. They quickly need to find a 12th team to keep their championship game (and the money it brings in.) If Missouri leaves, then 2 of the top 6 TV markets in the Big 12 come with it (so less money for the remaining members based on the Big 12 TV contract.) Other schools might look at leaving too, example Colorado to the Pac 10 (and if Colorado left, thats another big TV market gone). FYI, besides Colorado and Missouri, Texas has the other big markets. And Texas's markets are the biggest overall.

If Missouri and Colorado left the Big 12, Texas stands to lose a lot of money. At that point they would either have to look for a new conference, or try and bring in new teams to the Big 12. There are not many teams that would bring in the TV markets like Missouri and Colorado, so even if they bring in Boise St or Utah or TCU, they are not getting that money back.

So, Texas has to consider its options now. If they were offered a chance to improve their academics while also being given an extra $20 million a year, and they turned it down and their conference collapsed, they would probably be kicking themselves pretty hard. The Big Ten could offer Missouri or someone else, but really, is there anyone other than Notre Dame that would be a better school to add than Texas? Texas is good academically. It would bring in a ton of money. It would be good for the overall sports competition. It would make the Big Ten an even bigger deal than it already is nationally. And it would balance the conference.

Balance the conference? Exactly. When the Big Ten expands to 12 teams, they could divide into divisions of 6 and 6 in football. Currently, you have three major teams in football, with Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. How would you split them up? Not a great balance there. Does Missouri or Iowa State help? No. Does Texas? Yes. That makes each side have two power teams.

But Texas has no rivalries in the Big Ten! Not really true. Ohio State and Texas played some amazing football games in the last few years, wouldn't that be great to have happen more? You're telling me that fans on either side aren't upset at all about how that series went, and wouldn't love another shot? How about MSU in basketball? We've played Texas the last four years and play them next season too.

So how does this affect MSU? MSU's first choice is still going to be Notre Dame. Tradition here still is going to win, and there are so many positives to that addition to the Big Ten that everyone would be happy. But if Notre Dame isn't interested, there is no better school for MSU than Texas. MSU's athletic revenue increases. MSU's academics are helped by collaboration with another great school. MSU gets it's recruiting door opened in Texas. And MSU gets another rival in sports like basketball and volleyball.

Texas to the Big Ten has my vote.

Friday, February 5, 2010

MSU to Keep Current Spartan Head Logo

Michigan State will keep the current Spartan head logo during its brand redesign, Athletic Director wrote in a letter released to The Other Side of Spartan Sports.

"Our identity and branding process is nearing completion and is on schedule for a complete rollout in April. The elements and applications of the brand design will be unveiled collectively at that time," Hollis wrote. "After careful consideration, we will use the current Spartan logo design, first used in the late 1970s, to build our visual brand identity."

The entire letter is reprinted below:

We Gather and Engage Our Community to Teach, Support, and Celebrate our Student-Athletes in Their Quest for Excellence!

That’s the mission I had in mind since day one. But it can’t be done alone.

Our vision of a “consistent and national identity” was designed to bring everyone together. By that, I mean everyone -- from our administration to our student-athletes to you as a Spartan.

When I accepted this position, I stated that as your Athletic Director everything would be done with ONE FOCUS. Having been on this campus for more than 30 years as a student, alumnus, and employee, I have often observed that, as Spartans, we have not always been headed in the same direction. Nowhere has this fact more obvious than in the outward appearance of our team uniforms. We have been an athletic program of different greens, logos, word-marks, and uniform quality. There has been a lack of consistency with regard to our brand. This inconsistency was a result both of using multiple suppliers for our apparel and of uniform decisions being made without a department-wide focus.

After assuming the Athletic Director position, one of my initial objectives was to outfit each of our sports teams in a consistent manner and to do so as a component of a unique and cohesive national brand identity program. To accomplish this task, we expanded our partnership with Nike so that every one of our 25 teams and nearly 800 student-athletes will all wear Nike-designed uniforms and apparel. We feel fortunate to have Nike as a partner, not only to improve the way our teams look, but also for the unique performance advantages their products provide.

As part of the expanded partnership, we requested Nike conduct a department-wide assessment of our brand and identity. It’s important to note that this request came as part of our agreement with Nike, but was not a condition of it. There was no cost to MSU for this service. Members of my staff, university administration, and I guided Nike designers through this in-depth process that is still in the final stages of completion.

In this process, Nike has suggested various innovative concepts and design elements, yet it is always Michigan State University that determines the direction we will take. Input from student-athletes, coaches, alumni, donors, students, faculty, and university public relations advisors have been involved in this process.

The recent disclosure of an updated Spartan logo from a trademark registration process has resulted in a flurry of concern and discontentment among some of our students, alumni, and fans. I have given careful attention to thoughtful comments received and sought additional counsel regarding how ideas might be incorporated into the overall strategic brand and identity process. Our primary objective is to achieve a strong and consistent Spartan brand, but rest assured that, as our mission statement attests, bringing Spartans together is one of our fundamental values.

Our identity and branding process is nearing completion and is on schedule for a complete rollout in April. The elements and applications of the brand design will be unveiled collectively at that time. After careful consideration, we will use the current Spartan logo design, first used in the late 1970s, to build our visual brand identity. Using sound branding principles, the university will continue to register some variations of our Spartan logo in order to ensure that this symbol is well protected and firmly associated with Michigan State University. As an athletic department, we are excited about our branding and identity process. We understand, given the tremendous exposure we bring to the university, that our work is an important part of Michigan State’s overall university brand. As we go forward, we will ensure that elements of the athletics visual brand identity align with and support the university brand.

As an athletics department and as a university, we are dedicated to maintaining an appreciation for our past while also being committed to moving our university and athletic program boldly into the future. As Spartans, I believe we can all pull together and embrace the mission of standing together with one focus—a focus broad enough to encompass both the vital importance of community and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Thank you for your support, and Go Green – Go White!


Mark J. Hollis

Director of Athletics