The New Pac Tenwelve Rebranding Effort

There’s been a lot of news in college football this week, as we inch closer and closer to the start of the season. The new Pac-10 (soon to be twelve) commissioner, Larry Scott, was in New York today to launch the new Pac-10 brand, and take on the so-called “East Coast Media Bias” heads-on. According to Sports Illustrated, it was less East Coast Bias as it was Old Commissioner Boneheadedness:

“In one a-ha moment, Scott was stunned when he learned from ESPN/ABC executives that the conference had turned down the reverse mirror option for split telecast football games on ABC. Reverse mirroring allows the portion of the country that doesn’t get a particular game on ABC to watch that game on one of ESPN’s family of networks. For example, if 33 percent of the country is getting Oregon-USC and 66 percent of the country is getting Michigan-Iowa on ABC, the east-coasters and Midwesterners who want to watch the Ducks and Trojans could simply tune to ESPN2. So instead of exposing the entire country to its product, the previous Pac-10 regime had forced Pac-10 football to remain largely a regional entity. Scott immediately corrected that mistake, telling ESPN that for the remainder of the existing contract, it could reverse mirror Pac-10 games at no extra charge. 

[…]

Some of the findings probably sent palms crashing into foreheads in the Pac-10’s Walnut Creek, Calif., office. Other leagues had required teams to wear conference patches on their uniforms and paint logos on their playing surfaces for more than a decade. How could the Pac-10 miss something so obvious? “Isn’t that amazing? It’s just so simple,” O’Hara said. “But it’s a loss of revenue of exposure.”“

Coming from the midwest, and weaned on Ohio State football on ABC every Saturday afternoon, I was always astonished that to watch a Husky game, I had to go digging up in the triple digit channels of my DirecTV-and even then, I might have to watch it on some distant Fox Sports affiliate, because they’re showing a Mariners replay from 2001 on our local Fox Sports affiliate. The Pac-10 TV contract is abysmal, and it absolutely affects the brand. 

The idea of expanding into Asian markets is interesting, although they have some gains to make in this country first. In terms of visibility, marketability, and money, the Pac-10 trails far behind the Big Ten and the SEC. Of course, when it comes to winning championships, they dwarf the other conference, and I hope this new branding effort begins to emphasize that. 

SME’s report concluded that to its target audiences to the east and west, the Pac-10 needed to exude West Coast-cool. It needs to remind people that the Pac-10 footprint is home to innovators such as Google, Nike, Microsoft and Apple. It needs to remind people that the Pac-10 is home to some of the nation’s elite universities. It also needs to remind people that the Pac-10 wins — a lot. The league has claimed 388 NCAA titles, more than 150 more than the second-place Big Ten.

If it can do all that, media partners and sponsors will notice. “When you elevate the brand, you get to charge more,” O’Hara said. “You get to spend less on media. You get to simplify purchase decisions.”

The New Logo

After the new Pac Tenwelve logo leaked last week, I immediately zipped off an email to Brand New to ask for their thoughts on it. Brand New is one of my favorite design blogs, where they break down-in almost minute detail-branding and rebranding solutions. 

My first reaction? I didn’t like it. I kinda dig the shield, even though it’s becoming cliched, but the lettering seemed forced. I actually prefer the logo separated from the shield:

I didn’t also didn’t quite get the whole mountain/wave dynamic at first glance; I first thought it was some kind of stylized musical note. I like the idea, but I think the execution could have been better. I’m also bugged that the ten is completely out of place with the rest of the logo, and is clearly a placeholder until they become the Pac-12 in a few years. Which means they’re going to swap the zero for a two and call it good, without regard for how a small change could effect the whole design. Of course, there is the possibility they’ve planned for that, which would explain why the zero looks so out of place in the shield.

Will this new brand raise the profile of the New Pac-10? Will the new logo become as iconic as the SEC logo, or the Dallas Cowboys star? Only time will tell. Luckily, in this particular branding game, the best way to become iconic is to win. And despite Oregon’s post-Rose Bowl meltdown and USC’s upcoming probation, this is a conference poised to grow competitively over the next few years. The SEC went from being a regional football conference to a national brand simply by winning more titles than the other guys. The Pac-10 just needs to do the same.

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