When Design Reflects Program

April 10, 2019

Commentary

College athletics branding has massive popularity, with countless uniform designs, multi-million dollar facilities and more acting as defining characteristics (and recruitment tools) of big-time programs. Problem is, it’s the bigger programs (with famous alums) and those on the coasts that get all the love.

The Oregon Ducks are always first that come to mind, because… Nike. Maryland has Under Armour. Schools like North Carolina and UCLA stick to the classics to tremendous fanfare.

In many ways, the design of the uniforms, collateral, everything matches the playstyle. Oregon’s whole outfit is bright, flashy, loud—they play that way too. UCLA keeps it classic, and harkens the playstyle always back to the John Wooden glory days. It’s all college branding. It’s all identity.

But what about the Midwest? There are tremendous athletics programs between the coasts, but when it comes to program identity by way of branding, there’s Big Blue Nation and schools like Ohio State and Alabama that tie their identity to coaches or history. Enter Xavier University, who joined the Big East in 2013, and needed help defining who they were to recruits, fans, and students.

The program, and its athletes, embody what a team-first atmosphere plays like. Even its most famous basketball alums (David West, James Posey) were legendary teammates. So what makes a good teammate? Energy, passion, camaraderie—those kinds of things. With that in mind, The Power of X and the letter “X” itself became the program’s uniter. Chants of “Let’s go X” and words like “faithful,” and “stand as one” drove home Xavier’s mentality and identity. 

The brand appealed to new recruits and fans through a renewed energy and purposeful imperfection seldom seen from private schools in the Midwest. Using the city as its backdrop Xavier developed environmental graphics, screen prints for games, even a little photoshop trickery to help claim the city for the Musketeers.

The end result is a visual identity that spoke to their young recruits and brought the program’s “all for one” identity into the design. The measurable results? With the help of a winning basketball program and consistent, strong design, Xavier has broken attendance records for basketball year over year since 2015.

Want to see more? We built a case study full of the work created for Xavier Athletics here. Want to know more? email us at info@bldgrefuge.com