When this fall’s athletics season starts for the University’s 700 student-athletes, it will not only mark the beginning of the 2013-2014 season, but also the debut of a new look for UConn – from updated uniforms for the players and coaches of the Huskies’ men’s and women’s teams to a redesigned Husky logo.
The new look is part of a broader institution-wide branding and marketing program announced in April by President Susan Herbst that includes using “UCONN” as the primary wordmark of the University in all signage, publications, advertising, and marketing communications.
The new Husky dog logo was developed with Nike as part of a review of all athletic team logos and marks, which in recent years had grown increasingly inconsistent on team uniforms, says Kyle Muncy ’92 (CLAS), assistant director of athletics for licensing.
“When we reviewed UConn’s sport programs, we saw that only five of the 24 were using the Husky dog logo on their current uniform,” Muncy says. “We had become an athletic department and a University that had so many different marks, it was difficult to determine what the brand was.”
While new uniforms will not be introduced until fall, a new UCONN wordmark, along with the new Husky logo, began to appear in buildings and facilities operated by the Department of Athletics in April.
Muncy says the new Husky logo is a reflection of comments by coaches and student-athletes who participated, along with a campus-wide steering committee with representation from faculty, Student Affairs, and other administrative units, in the process of reviewing the branding and logos used in the Department of Athletics.
“The things that were talked about were athleticism, determination, and aggressiveness in competition that our program brings to the field and on the court,” Muncy says. “The focus going forward will be UCONN, with a strong Husky dog image.”
The Jonathan Husky image has changed several times since the husky dog was first adopted as the University mascot in 1935, when the original Jonathan was a brown, black, and white pup. There have since been five different Husky dog logos used, with the most recent update in 2002. The new logo returns to a more realistic depiction of a Husky, similar to the 1970s look.
“Coming up with a mark that our students, alumni, and fans can identify with is important, and it’s just as important that our coaches and student-athletes identify with it, because they are the ones wearing it on a national stage to represent us on a daily basis,” Muncy says.
UConn student-athletes wear the Nike brand of uniforms and footwear and, at the request of the Department of Athletics, the company worked with the University for about 18 months to review its athletics visual identity.
Clint Shaner, senior graphic designer at Nike, says the process included an evaluation of how the various elements of the identity of teams are perceived by the University community, including alumni, fans, and student-athletes. In particular, student-athletes expressed the view that the current Husky image did not reflect “the tenacity and toughness” they demonstrate on the field of play.
“They just didn’t feel the existing mark reflected who they are and didn’t adequately embody the characteristics of a Husky,” Shaner says.
He says the Nike design team wanted to develop a more graphic and iconic image of a dog, utilizing the unique aspects of an actual husky.
What’s In a Name?
From UCLA to Penn, numerous universities in recent years have been embracing shortened school names as their primary naming convention. According to recent University research, the University of Connecticut is in fact also widely known today by its shorter moniker.
Last month, the University made it official, introducing a new custom wordmark for the institution. Presented as “UCONN” in all capital letters, the wordmark lies at the center of a new visual identity program recently adopted by the University.
Muncy says the use of UCONN on all uniforms will reinforce the overall University brand when the Huskies compete throughout the year in all sports and in nationally televised events.
“The uniforms will all look similar, consistent, and unmistakably UConn,” he says.
“This logo is everything that a Husky is supposed to be – powerful, aggressive, determined,” says UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma. “It is looking right through you and saying, ‘Do not mess with me.’ This is a streamlined, fighting dog, and I cannot wait for it to be on our uniforms and court.”
To learn more about the University’s new look, visit s.uconn.edu/visual.