University of Dayton: We Love VD logo!

Full disclosure: I have worked in branding and design for over 27 years, winning awards for logos, branding and naming companies and products. My firm, The Next Wave, had approached the University of Dayton Athletics Department about doing tactical advertising- getting butts in seats, for the UD Women’s team while this new “branding effort” was in motion. We were rebuffed by a mid-level bureaucrat. I wouldn’t have recommended changing the brand mark as a critical component of their advertising and marketing strategy at this point- being that it’s incredibly expensive, and that the existing brand just got a huge bump in exposure on the national level. You can see examples of my firm’s work:

The feedback on the “new and improved” University of Dayton athletics brand has been almost universally negative on social media. And while the old brand may seem dated, there are always ways to subtly update a brandmark without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Retro hipster looks can be very in these days- an entire industry has been born in selling classic brand apparel – meet Homage in Columbus. Or the “Original Retro Brand” with old Negro League merch.

If you want to learn the story of Homage, you can watch this amazingly compelling and beautifully shot and edited story by a Dayton talent, Showdown Visual, run by Kenny Mosher, who happens to be a UD grad, with a BA, in Photography, Music Technology, Computer Engineering

The explanation, for the new branding in the press release, where the agency in Philly feels that its name is as important as the client’s-

 On the heels of a remarkably successful men’s basketball season, the University of Dayton is rolling out a new logo and identity for the Dayton Flyers athletics program. Produced by branding agency 160over90, with creative consultation from Nike, the athletics logo was revealed on Friday, July 18, on the Dayton Flyers website.

via University of Dayton : News : Athletics Reveals New Image, Logo.

Reminds me of some other amazingly egotistical designers, and one in particular- Peter Arnell- who was responsible for one of the biggest rebranding flops in history for the Tropicana division of Pepsi. You can read more about it and watch a video in this post on my company blog:Redesigning Brands isn’t always the answer Pepsico pulled the plug on the relaunch in 5 months after sales plummeted.

The most common responses on social media are “Where’s the U” and it “looks like VD” which are both very relevant comments. In my circles, there are some locals who believe they could have done a better job. I’m going to introduce you to six firms that would have been better choices- and not in any ranked order:

  • Real Art: Headed by another UD alum- Chris Wire (who is one class shy of graduation), already has a relationship with UD Athletics. That amazing player introduction video is done by them each year- with the filming of new players- and all the cool motion effects added. With offices in NYC and Chicago, they aren’t exactly local yokels. Very talented folks.
  • Graphica: The granddaddy of Dayton design. This firm has consistently done amazing work for almost 30 years. A very stable organization, many of their people have worked there from the start. They’ve done branding for companies like NexisLexis and have worked with Nike for years.
  • ZeDesign: While they now specialize in graphic treatments for athletic facilities- including UD Arena’s makeover a few years ago, they have the talent to do an update in a heartbeat.
  • Hucklebuck Studio: Located in Springfield, Andy Hayes is a world class talent. I’ve never met him (something I hope to rectify soon) he does work for national brands.
  • Tim Frame: a professor at Cedarville and a really nice guy, Tim has been in the business a little longer than I have, and I’ve yet to see something other than awesome out of him.
  • Rickabaugh Graphics: Columbus designer Eric Rickabaugh has mad design talent, but currently his site is under construction. Another old timer, I called on him in the early 80’s when I worked for Graphica. He’s a really nice guy and was responsible for the rebranding of The Ohio State University, which then launched his career into mostly university identity systems. (update- I forgot- he did the last update- which was also hated then)

For future reference, I maintain a list of all the ad agencies and graphic design firms in Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Coming back to the “New and Improved” UD athletics mark- I’m uninspired by it as a stand-alone mark, I don’t particularly like the ligatures on the logotype (ligatures are connections of letters usually done to save space (ff and tt almost always get the treatment as do fi) and to make it easier to read- they are usually done only on lower case letters or on particular upper/lower combinations like Fi). Connecting the Y and T in Dayton to me is almost criminal in a non-italic all caps execution- there is no need.

On the uniforms, the new marks look OK- remember, these are almost always in motion anyway. On the court- this thing looks like an abomination. If a logo needs explaining, it usually is a #FAIL in my book. The most common comments are it looks like “VD” and “Where’s the U” – to answer that- I made a quick down-and-dirty graphic to explain this mess.

Explaining the new University of Dayton, UD, athletics logo

Click on image for a downloadable PDF

Here is the link for the PDF: UDayton deconstructed pdf Feel free to share.

Why the “University of Dayton” uses an agency in Philadelphia should be a major question for the alumni association that paid for this work. I also wasn’t impressed with the great freshman bike giveaway that this agency turned into a 15 second media sensation- where the university pledged to give away 100 $600 bicycles to kids who are enrolling in a very expensive school. I thought the money would have been better spent on extending the upcoming Dayton Bikeshare system to campus. To me- it was like a bank giving away toasters- and those days are long over.

UD athletics has an unbelievable fan following, and I doubt people will give up their season tickets over this. But, I’m sure the jokes about this new logo won’t stop- “We are V-D, Clap, Clap”

Share your thoughts.

Here is a mark for the haters to use:

Disapproval of the new University of Dayton Athletics logo

How to just say no to VD for UD.

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