The new brand should create a distinctive visual mark, specifically for the athletic programs.
Convey the definition of a Raider as one who is bold and courageous in leading others.
Develop tools and guidelines that will enable consistency when used by various parties.
Create versions of the mark to be used in print, digital, and apparel, and by in-house staff.
Carrying the flag of leadership
Northwestern College is a small Christian liberal arts college located in northwest Iowa. It's long tradition of athletic success includes national championships in 3 separate NAIA sports. But the athletic programs have never used a logo separate from the primary college logo. The new identity, had 3 objectives it needed to meet: A clear connection to the institutional mark; A primary focus on the mascot name Raiders; and a non-violent way to depict the competitive traits of their student-athletes.
The new athletic identity will be used specifically, and solely for the athletic programs. The primary logo is made up of the Raider Flag - a stylized R that represents the leadership characteristics that Raider athletes carry into competition. The cross remains as the center of the logo, as in the institutional mark, while providing negative space of the R letterform. The typography of the logo is designed to convey a sense of stability, fortitude, and strength in ones convictions. We intentionally emphasized the mascot name over the institution name in order to draw contrast to the institutional identity.
The journey to develop a new athletic-specific identity for the Northwestern Raiders was not a simple one, and not one that others haven’t planned for before. Throughout most of their history, and consistently over the past 20+ years, the athletic programs have chosen to use the institutional mark – the N†W – to emblazon their uniforms, athletic facilities, and sports marketing. The current college logo is beloved by students and alumni. Change is difficult! But the leadership, from the athletic director to the VP of marketing, were all resolute in the need for a new athletic identity. We’ll see about those students and alumni.
Over four months, we developed nearly two dozen different conceptual directions for the client. Surveys to hundreds of stakeholders, student focus groups, and presentations to the coaching staff and the college executive team led us to discover that we needed a mark that highlighted the distinctive characteristics of the student-athlete at Northwestern, not just any "raider". The college defines a Raider as: one who is fearless, confident, and prepared to finish the task through discipline, sacrifice and the relentless pursuit of excellence. That is leadership.
The Focal Point: The Raider Flag
So how do you create a new visual identity for an athletic department, and be intentional about not depicting anger and violence? Isn't that a prerequisite in athletic branding? Isn't the point to intimidate your opponent? Well, you start by creating a mark that is emblematic of those Raider leadership traits. You also happen to design it to be a stylized letterform representing the mascot name. We kept the cross as the focus, and maintained the institutional color scheme but included a deeper red to add some depth. The Raider Flag can be depicted in 1-, 2-, or 3-colors.
Extending the Identity
Obviously, an athletic identity needs to be built to maintain the flexibility to be used across numerous sports and team uniforms. As part of the development, we acknowledged there may be the need to include the Northwestern N; we realized there may be the need for a secondary wordmark for jerseys; and we also recognized there may be instances where the athletic and institutional logos needed to work together in order to help those students and alumni embrace the new mark.
“We saw a need for a visual identity that complimented the college's logo while making a more commanding impression in the athletic arena. Greg did an excellent job managing the entire process, from initial surveys through the design process to providing thorough talking points to help introduce the new identity. We can’t wait to see the Raider Flag flying across our athletic competitions.”
VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING & ENROLLMENT