From the beginning of this process all the way to the end, I can’t begin to describe how professional Old Hat has been in working with Sycamore Athletics. Their patience throughout as well as their receptiveness to our thoughts and ideas has been much appreciated. It was amazing to see them take the thoughts of our student-athletes, coaches, donors as well as alumni into consideration when leading the charge to refresh our athletics brand. Old Hat did a great job of respecting the rich tradition of our university and building upon that as Indiana State looks to continue forward momentum into the future.
- Sherard Clinkscales, Director of Athletics -
LOGO & IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT
FOR THE INDIANA STATE SYCAMORES
In the spring of 2018, Indiana State University contacted Old Hat about updating their family of marks and typeface to better engage a new generation of fans. Old Hat launched our three-phase process that spring and after many months of research and discovery, design, focus groups and testing, the Sycamores launched their new identity in March of 2020.
PHASE 1 - SCOUTING: FAN, ALUMNI and STAFF RESEARCH
The current Sycamores primary logo has represented the athletics program for three decades and carried with it a lot of fan affinity. We knew that in order to engage fans with a new mark, we must first learn a lot about Indiana State, its fans and what was important to them.
What We Discovered
As with any new identity, there are things that are open to be altered, changed or removed but usually there are non-negotiables as well. Phase one revealed both.
One thing we learned at the outset was that the outline of the state of Indiana was a pride point that absolutely had to be carried over to the new identity. From athletics staff to alumni, there was no desire to move away to a mark that represented the Sycamores in a different way (i.e. sycamore leaf, mascot mark, etc.). The state of Indiana outline must stand as the cornerstone of the new mark.
At the same time, there were certainly things the staff and fans were open to changing.
First, replicating the existing logo for use on playing surfaces, apparel, etc. was quite difficult due to the predominance of white, the curved, script font and the great level of detail in the state outline. Additionally, there was a desire to move away from the script toward using a typeface that projected collegiate tradition and strength.
Finally, one thing the administration wanted to make sure to keep was the arch of the word Sycamores as a way to honor the mark that represented the program for so long, and provide visual consistency for alumni and fans that have equity in the old mark.
PRELIMINARY UNUSED CONCEPTS
Like every logo development project, far more concepts get developed than ever see the light of day. Here are some of the concepts we developed just to show ISU some options for marks that did not utilize the state outline.
PHASE 2 - PLAYBOOK: A RECOMMENDED DIRECTION
Considering that the state of Indiana outline was going to be an integral part of the new identity, we had to find a way to solve the problem created by the great level of detail in the outline. We suggested moving away from an exact representation of the outline and toward a more stylized representation. We wanted everyone to know what the image represented but felt that it was not necessary for it to be identical to the actual state outline.
Considering that ISU wanted to stick with a primary mark that simply used the word "Sycamores" as the primary (and only) text, we recommended the addition of the letter "I" to 1) add another visual element and 2) tie it better to the word "Indiana" and eliminate any confusion about who the mark represented. This addition of the letter "I" also helped in later logo development by providing an easy way to transition the state outline into an "S" that could stand at the beginning of the word "Sycamores" in a wordmark. This also allowed for better visual recognition when the state of Indiana outline stood as the "I" in the "Indiana State" wordmark.
A final recommendation we made was the addition of gray as a complimentary color. This would help solve a lot of design and usage issues, help the mark stand out against all backgrounds and serve as another brand color for jerseys, apparel and more.
MORE UNUSED CONCEPTS
Creation of an athletic program's identity often includes a lot of compromise. As the firm hired by Indiana State to create their identity, we had our own thoughts and opinions about direction for the brand. And ISU was amazing to work with as they leaned heavily on our expertise in guiding the direction. At the same time, we had to defer to ISU's judgment at times as well.
When developing the primary mark, we came up with an interlocking I-S mark that we felt was very strong and accomplished everything Indiana State was going after. However, ultimately it was decided that this mark was too much of a departure from the existing mark and because it did not utilize the word "Sycamores," there was a feeling that it was not a strong enough representation of the Sycamores' identity. This mark was scrapped as a mark that would be used as a stand alone, however, we did end up using it as the "S" in the "Sycamores" wordmark (see final family of marks below).
UNUSED PRIMARY LOGO
PHASE 3 - GAMEDAY: A TANGIBLE DIRECTION
Once a final direction was decided upon, the work of tweaking and adjusting kicked in to full force. Indiana State's most pressing need was a custom typeface which they planned to reveal far ahead of the launch of the new identity. We knew we wanted something traditional and collegiate with a modern and edgy twist. After numerous iterations, the Sycamore typeface was created and released ahead of the 2018 fall sports season.
Finally, after many months of research and development, we landed on what would be the final family of marks to represent Indiana State University for years to come.
INDIANA STATE SYCAMORES
FAMILY OF LOGOS
Old Hat has once again proven that they are the leader in collegiate sports marketing and branding with the work they have done over the last two years with Sycamore Athletics. They have taken a dream for many of us at Indiana State and turned it into reality. We can’t wait to take their creativity and marketing strategies and put them into use as we look expand the reach of the Sycamore Athletics brand. We are much better suited to move into a new era of Sycamore Athletics with the ability to carry a consistent brand across all of our platforms and that is thanks to the creativity, research and power of what Old Hat has provided for Indiana State.
- Ace Hunt, Associate Athletic Director for Communications & Digital Content -
WELCOME TO THE FUTURE OF THE INDIANA STATE UNIVERSITY SYCAMORES
Not only does Old Hat create top notch athletic rebrands, we also consult on the brand launch and produce creative to go along with it. Below you will see a brand video which was written and produced by Old Hat, as well as digital/social graphics we created to help announce the launch. Additionally, we created a communications plan, social media strategy and style guide.