Six Zero's Official Response to the Big Ten Logo and all of the Resulting Fallout

Six Zero's Official Response to the Big Ten Logo and all of the Resulting Fallout

Submitted by Six Zero on December 17th, 2010 at 11:05 AM

 Alright... I've read enough of these posts and responses about the Big Ten logo and I was actually writing all of this as a response to the "Reconsider Division Names" thread when I finally decided to bump it into its own post.  I'm not trying to come off as some logo elitist, a creative snoot or some kind of uppity know-it-all.  It's just that there's several enormous parts of the iceberg regarding the creative process, decision-making, and ultimate implemenation of a big-time corporate logo that many of you aren't aware of, and so I'm trying to enlighten some people.

Personally, I'll own up and give you my own opinion of the official Big Ten logo at the end of this post.

In the meantime, it's no secret that most of the blog hates and loathes this thing like it came from Columbus.  And that's awesome-- everyone has the right to respond to it however they'd like.  BUT what's bothering me is that everyone, including Brian, is suggesting that we just have a contest and the people will fix what the king's court could not.  And, my whole plumbing analogy notwithstanding, some of you are even suggesting that the Big Ten will save so much money by not having to hire some snooty art company type thing.

I couldn't disagree with you more.  They'd still have to spend almost the same amount of money to get a design firm to adapt a 'contest winner' into a working branding concept and final production suite.  Multi-venue solutions (line art, grayscale, full color, spot color), vector and raster images, RGB vs. CMYK files-- all of these things need to be prepared so that the logo can successfully depart for file management and implementation.

Let's say that Jim Delany saw the shield logo on our blog -- TScherne or Block M or whoever did it-- and decided that was the one he was going to run with.  What would really happen?  Chances are they'd write a little check and have the designer sign off ownership of the design about twenty times.  THEN they'd go back to Pentagram or another design firm, and they'd essentially recreate it in vector format, tweaking it slightly to maximize production and reproduction.  Then they'd create countless format options for the logo, some for web, some for print, some for line art solutions like one-color tees, etc. etc.  And the work doesn't end there.

Perhaps very few of you realize that the design firm is also responsible for the production and publication of a proper creative brief, design manual, or reproduction requirement publication.  Basically it's a manual that follows the logo wherever it goes throughout its shelf life, telling every prepress artist or web developer how it should, and more importantly, how it cannot be used.  For example, the UM sports department probably issued a new brief last year telling everyone NOT to use the block M with 'MICHIGAN' through the middle, and not to use the one with the blue stroke, and instead use only the single color block M.  It might also say you cannot add to the mark, rotate the mark, use different typography for the mark, etc etc.  All of this has to be prepared, developed, and considered so that no handling or manipulation of the logo is open to interpretation.  Many of these documents are small, but several can be up to 40-50 pages.  I've worked with Bucknell's and few others, and have seen countless more.  It's a very legitimate and binding document.

In other words, you just don't draw up a logo and send it in.  Even if it's a contest winner, you're not saving any money, and chances are you're only setting yourself up for future complications.  Let the experts do their job, man.

NOW, if you hate the logo, that's another thing-- but ultimately Delany and the Big Ten are responsible for choosing and approving that solution, not the design company.  I'd bet Pentagram created at least a dozen other solutions that Delany and company passed over.  This is not something that was just whipped up on a napkin, my friends.

If you think the design firm could have done better, chances are they did.  It just wasn't chosen. 


I don't think it's that bad.  Seriously.

But I also think it's no home run.  Yes, the Pac10's logo is so much sweeter.  The new logo is to the point, the typography is relatively clean and is also current without being too trendy.  I also think the whole B10 shortened mark could probably catch on, if it's handled the right way.  Still, they could've done a much better job in promoting the personality and character of what we consider GGRRRRR BIG TEN FOOTBALL by choosing the right typeface.  Typefaces are like voices-- they can all say the same words and yet the meanings can become completely different.

What I really dislike is the color.  That icy blue doesn't have enough contrast to really pop off a white background, and on a black background it'll probably be unappealing in a Carolina Panthers kinda way.  I also don't like how they did the whole black "B" with the blue "10" concept-- looks very bleh, and too NFL on FOX.  I'd have probably done something that combines current with tradition, but that may not have been what the Big Ten as an organization asked for.  We'll never know what the customer requested prior to design.

As far as contests and my uppity opinions, etc., someone has already asked me 'hey why don't you whip something up?'  I will not.  And I'm not ripping on anyone who had the scrotum to work something up and post it here on mgoblog-- more power to all of you and I'm certainly willing to recognize some strong efforts.  If someone were to commission me to create a logo then perhaps I might-- but technically none of you have the right to hire me to create a Big Ten logo-- that would be a conflict of ownership with the Big Ten.  So yes, I have some ideas, but until the miraculous day that I get a call from Jim Delany asking me to knock something out, I'm going to keep my concepts to myself.

Go Blue and Merry Christmas everybody.