Today’s guest post is by Timothy O’Donnell. Tim is the Creative Director at 160over90 and has been working with the Atlantic 10 Conference on their rebranding.
The rebranding of the Atlantic 10 Conference came on the heels of the ACC’s new identity launch and just prior to the Big 12’s, leading many to wonder whether there was a clearance sale on new logos lately. To my knowledge, no coupons were involved… Regardless, a new A-10 identity was the natural next step in the larger branding initiative that 160over90 began last year.
That process got underway with the agency meeting as many people as possible, to learn first-hand about the conference’s goals, challenges, and frustrations. We had extensive conversations with Commissioner McGlade and her staff, but also spoke with each school’s Athletic Director and President. The picture that emerged was far from a ‘mid-major’ conference; this is a conference with strong ideals that consistently sends teams deep into the tournament. We needed to challenge the misconceptions about the conference head-on.
The idea for the ‘Next’ campaign came out of the conference’s commitment to always advancing. It launched as a lead-in to March Madness, complete with an epic (if we do say so ourselves) two-minute national TV spot. The hype piece earned a great amount of positive attention, as did the league itself, sending a record six teams to the NCAA Tournament.
For the campaign, we cleaned up the existing A-10 logo a little, knowing that we’d tackle a full refresh in the relative calm of the basketball post-season.
The previous identity had served the A-10 well, but it was starting to feel outdated. As more fans interact with brands via their phones, the outlines and smaller details of the logo were getting lost completely. It became harder to talk about the Atlantic 10 as the next power conference when their logo seemed to be looking backward, not forward.
We wanted to modernize the identity while staying true to the conference’s strong history, and as such, it’s more of an evolution of the previous logo than a revolutionary new approach. As with the brand campaign, we wanted the logo to tell the story of the grittiness and uncompromising work ethic embedded in the league’s athletic programs. That their success is earned, not given. The strong, clean lines of the mark are a subconscious nod to that no-nonsense approach.
The new logotype was designed to convey speed and athleticism, specifically via the exaggerated slope of the ‘A,’ and the angled serifs that act as speed lines.
To acknowledge the league’s strong work ethic on and off the court, we also created a secondary ‘shield’ version of the logo. The opposite of a pretentious, ornate crest, this simple shield took inspiration from union seals and military insignia. This two-logo flexibility is one of the key benefits to this identity system; the shield can be used instead of forcing the wider wordmark into a Twitter avatar, for example.
We know as well as anybody that a logo launch invites commentary—everything from the slant of the letters to the overall originality of the design is open to debate. But unveiling it within the context of a national brand campaign, and on the heels of an unprecedented A-10 basketball season, feels like a power move for this new basketball power conference.
At the same time that the new identity launched, the A-10 officially welcomed Davidson College as its 14th member. The Wildcats have made 11 appearances in the NCAA® Men’s Basketball Championship, and the league is excited to see what this basketball season brings.
So, who wants next?