The Block M and Branding

Submitted by JeepinBen on December 22nd, 2011 at 2:43 PM

A very observant MGoUser (I can’t remember who it was though) mentioned in a thread about the Sugar Bowl Jerseys that ALL of Michigan’s athletics jerseys now sport a Block M, across all sports. This wasn’t always the case. The Block M just found its way onto the “normal” home and away football jerseys this year (on the neck)

Not just with Football Jerseys, we’ve seen Block Ms appearing all over campus like never before. No longer is the “split M”

Acceptable, at this point, it’s Block M or Bust.

Old Scoreboard front:  

New Scorboard: (4 Block Ms)
I count 4 on Hunwick:
New Scoreboard:
New Crisler Floor:
New Crisler Seats:

Old Yost Scoreboard:

New Yost Board: 

Now this isn’t a rant, and I’m not trying to criticize Michigan for the proliferation of the Block M. In fact, Michigan is just following current marketing and branding trends. All over the corporate world the trend is towards the simple. Get rid of words, use symbols, and use them everywhere. Simplicity is king.  

A few examples of the corporate world:


NFL Logo:


Pepsi Logo:




Michigan is just following industry trends at this point with the Block M. One simple symbol. Everywhere. Get used to seeing this, it’s not going anywhere.



December 22nd, 2011 at 2:54 PM ^

I thought we already knew DB has said the split M is done and everything going forward is to Block M only, with the current renovations of all the sports complexes it fits that they would replace all of the old logo's with the new improved version. 


December 22nd, 2011 at 2:55 PM ^

Of the logo's use than before. All the business school clubs were forced to redesign their club logos due to their unofficial use of the block M this past year


December 22nd, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

...observation. If you want to learn more about how the University of Michigan manages its identity (its name and images), see this collection of pages.


People identify the promise of the University of Michigan and the quality it represents through our name and graphic identity. Our distinctive name and highly recognized symbols have come to represent generations of achievement by faculty, students, athletes, staff, and alumni, and the promise of excellence today. This distinction has created value in our name and brings respect, trust, confidence, and economic rewards that benefit the University community.

The "Block M" logo is one of the most recognizable university symbols in the nation. Long associated with Michigan athletics, the Block M has come to connote the excellence in all fields of endeavor that the University stands for. Using the Block M or other recognized marks add value to all those affiliated with it. And consistent use of recognizable logos and wordmarks reinforces the overall positive identity of the University.

The University of Michigan name and images are essential tools to break through the clutter of today's media-saturated American culture. There are more than 3,600 two- and four-year colleges in the United States. Students may be recruited by hundreds of them. The average American family is contacted more than 300 times a year to donate money to organizations or events. The promise of excellence attached to the University's name and graphic identity cuts through this overload and helps us reach people more effectively. Careful and consistent use of the name and images helps preserve their continued effectiveness.

So you see, this is about much more than simply the Athletic Department, jerseys and scoreboards. Which is precisely to JB's point.


December 23rd, 2011 at 1:40 PM ^

...this terrific find.

Just reading it you can tell that the people who wrote and approved that policy "get" the management of the Michigan brand in a big time way. This is the kind of outlook that gets us ranked among the top 20 universities in the world and that will keep us there.


December 23rd, 2011 at 6:54 PM ^

Mgoshoe, I had seen the item you found about protection of the block M previoulsy when looking at some of Michigan's IP.  I was thinking along the lines of the straight block M making for  stronger identification from an intellectual property perspective, which might have, at least in part, driven the decision.

Here is another link from Mgoshoe's find concerning the IP aspects of the way the block M is now being used:


December 22nd, 2011 at 4:31 PM ^

It reminds me a bit of those hanging signs they used to have in medieval cities. One example would be a pair of scissors for a barber. Since people couldn't read, pictures were used to convey the meaning of the service that was offered. Nowadays it sounds like corporations are realizing that in an age where everyone's logo can dance or burst into flames a simpler message might help sell more product.

Bigger is better and I love the new scoreboards as much as anybody. Still, I will miss those old Split M logos, since they were there all 4 years I was at Michigan. I like how the very last thing they used the non-HD scoreboards for was the Big Chill.


December 22nd, 2011 at 6:05 PM ^

Wisconsin's "doble ve" corporate branding ended in 1991 with the fruition of WordArt.

1975-1977                    1978-1987             1991-present


December 22nd, 2011 at 8:31 PM ^

I love it! Give us more M's everywhere...Livin here in fartytown, I see S's in my sleep...yech! Reminds me, to whomever is in charge of marketing allocation at UM, or at the M Alumni assn...MORE "M" BILLBOARDS PLEASE...MORE "M" FULL PAGE ADS PROCLAIMING ENTRANTS INTO THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HOF PLEASE... Farty has a lot less to proclaim, but they are kicking our a** in the marketing of it>Truth....Get it? Their marketing is greater then the truth of their accomplishments... PLEASE WAKE UP!!!!!!!! Hollis wants Detroit! Hollis wants IT ALL! And HE IS VERY GOOD.


December 23rd, 2011 at 9:37 AM ^

...but I do remember that an unnamed poster here once got a 1,000,000 point mod negbomb for a Sparty name that wasn't anywhere as stupid or classless as the one our new poster just used.  And the guy who got the big bomb could actually write.

I have a feeling that it isn't going to end well for the new guy.  Actually, if his writing style is any indication of his intellect, I have a feeling life isn't going to be too kind to him, either.  

Edward Khil

December 22nd, 2011 at 8:57 PM ^

The University of Missouri has a Block M.  And it's "yellow," no less.  (I don't think they call it yellow.  Gold and Black, I believe.)  My first fall after moving to Kansas City (in '04), I briefly thought there was a healthy contingent of Michigan supporters here.  Wrong.

I've been trying to find this out ever since:

Which school promulgated the Block M first: Michigan or Missouri?


December 22nd, 2011 at 9:27 PM ^

The first Block M on the football team's uniform appears to be this one, back in 1891:

Before that there's kind of a script-ish "U of M" and an "M" without serifs. I was able to find a black and white photo from 1914 of a Ferry Field crowd putting up cards to form a Block M:…

The earliest Mizzou Block M reference I can find goes back to 1927, but I'm not sure where to look for more.


December 22nd, 2011 at 10:48 PM ^

It's about time for the football jerseys.  When a kid walks around the mall in his Michigan jersey, he wants everyone to know what team it is.  

You did not know the old jerseys were Michigan unless you were freaks like all of us on this site and could tell it was Michigan by the tint of the yellow.  The rest of the world did not know if it was Michigan or the local high school.  The block M finally clears that up. 


December 23rd, 2011 at 11:21 AM ^

If you ever get a chance to go to Ralph Engelstad Arena where the North Dakota Fighting Sioux plays hockey you'll see over 2500 indian head logos.   Including a huge marble one once you come through the front door.

This is actually one of the biggest reason they fought so hard not to have to change their nickname.  If they were force to remove all those logos that would probably cost more then trying to build a new arena.