09.Dec.2009 Update on the Beaver Identity Crisis

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In October, I wrote this article discussing the Beaver’s identity crisis.

Two months have passed and we’ve all gotten a grain grayer and a bit balder. What has Oregon Duck Tinker Hatfield been up to? Well, he’s spearheaded a campaign for an entire re-branding of Oregon State’s identity. You can read about it here.

Mike Riley is thrilled:

“I really appreciate Nike for their involvement,” Riley says. “From the day I arrived in 1997, they’ve been helpful to Oregon State and our program. And now that Tinker has put in all his time and thoughts into some great ideas for Oregon State, I’m even more excited. He has a great vision of what could be. It’s something we’ll continue to explore.”

Bob De Carolis is lukewarm:

“I don’t think we’re totally on the same page yet as far as where we want to go,” De Carolis says. “We’ve had some meetings with Tinker and the Nike people, and we have come to be on the same page with some things, but we haven’t gone very far. We have some meetings coming up with them to keep the dialogue open.”

Keep the dialogue open?

Bob, you’re sporting a mascot that looks like dust-ridden stuffed animal that’s been under your grandmother’s bed since 1950, a handful of logos (is it OS, OSU, or the Angrybeaver?!), fonts, and 3 different football uniforms in the past 4 seasons. And you’re what, doing Tinker a favor by keeping a dialogue open?

Hatfield’s ideas are spot on:

“We wanted to clean up the look, make it more classic, steal all the latest technology, take away some of the detail and make Oregon State look like what we think they actually are – more traditional, classy, but with a modern twist,” Hatfield says. “It’s different than U of O, which is kind of futuristic, not looking back, not too worried about tradition.”

You win games by how you play, but Michael Jordan has always said, ‘If I look good, I feel good. And if I feel good, I play better.’ That’s something we might not have talked about 30 years ago, but in the modern day and age, there’s something to it.”

Bob D is fighting again:

“We just got done doing a branding exercise with our fonts and the ‘OS’ logo, and I don’t want to go into changing that right now,” he says. “I don’t think we’re necessarily on the same page as far as full-blown rebranding goes, but we’re certainly keeping the dialogue open.”

Yes, Bob, you finished a branding exercise that butchered our font and the OSU logo. Marketing and branding are what Oregon, Nike, and Hatfield do best, and they have offered to do it free of charge. So why the hesitation? The resistance by OSU frustrates me because they clearly don’t have a vision of their own, yet they’re lukewarm when experts in the field approach them. This is a golden opportunity to appeal to people east of the Rockies. Is it Bob D’s ego in creating our current/horrendous identity, or is it fear of another bra foible? If it’s the latter I can understand, but Nike quickly made good on that and admitted the error.

Something has to give. The current look is hodgepodge, and besides the orange jersey (which we never seem to wear), it’s very forgettable. The general public, when looking at OSU gear, think it’s Oklahoma State. And the football “angry beaver” doesn’t match with men’s baseball or basketball logos. Re-branding, if nothing else, creates a cohesive identity. An identity helps recruiting, makes the team memorable (and thus relevant) east of the Rockies, and makes the players wearing the jersey feel good and thus play better. Huge Bob D fan, but on this one he has his head up his ass, and while he hasn’t created a cohesive OSU identity, he has succeeded in creating one angry beaver.

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  • FreddyBeav says:
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    JUst read an article where Suh from Nebraska was interviewed and he said he almost transfered to OSU a few years ago. Paea and Suh would’ve been sweet. Also read that OSU has a home and home with hawaii again.

  • JackBeav says:
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    I have to agree. I’ve read that many Beavs like the angry muskrat logo, but I’ve disliked it since day one. Then we had the hexagonal OSU followed by Operating System. I don’t mind the fonts for the new uni’s, but it’s not uniform… on a uniform no less. Lose the helmet script. The cursive ‘Beavers’ is like big hair. It was bad; it was the 80’s. I would like to see an all black helmet with only the players’ numbers–on one side only–matching the jersey font. That says old school, hard nosed football. If not that, the OSU diagonal down using this font is fine…
    http://blog.oregonlive.com/beavers/2007/12/OSUplane2.jpg
    Don’t swale the O and add the U. To be honest, I would take all black helmets over what we have now. No stripe… no nothing.

    If we must keep the angry muskrat, then can we at least make the field mascot match?

    And lose the white pants. They would be fine if there were any grass fields left. But shiny white pants at the end of a game says ‘kicker’ to me. Three sharp, noticeable, utilitarian uniform combos are all we need.

    If Bobby D doesn’t get on the ball, I’m afraid I’m going to run out of Beavs garb. I haven’t bought anything with an OSU logo on it since Beanie Benny was the logo.

    It could be worse… we could have Adidas knocking on the door. Have you seen what they did to UCLA’s uni’s? From classic to broken. Too bad.

  • beavfan4 says:
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    Oh man De carolis better not F this one up. this is something that could definitely take OSU to the next level. Now if they could also get us state of the art facilities…

  • Diggs says:
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    I’m looking forward to keep an ear to the ground on this… just hopefully this isn’t all we get and the buck stops here. It’s tough knowing now where someone wants to take an identity and you might not even see it. Hopefully Hatfield wouldn’t make too many different identities to present… because if it’s anything like logo design… if they do choose one, they’ll always choose the one you felt least strong about! Ha.

    I have thought if the colors were to ever be tweaked like Tinker mentioned; a very slight burnt orange or slight rustic orange to what we have now possibly could hold something, and to compliment it, have the straight black go to a bit of a 5-10% faded-back black. Still black, but the colors themselves wouldn’t be quite so bright, but a bit more worn/rustic/washed/classic.
    If we must keep the ‘angry beaver’, I think it’d be nice to finesse what we have but really pair it down. I.e. The Nittany lion logo has a lot more fluidity and classiness to it in my opinion, and it doesn’t have to specify what it is…. Us on the other hand, “Beavers”, down to even the tongue and whiskers.

    Just my opinion.

  • RogersBrosFtw says:
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    I really hope we do get Nike to help with a redesign. I’m a relatively new Beaver fan. The OS logo was introduced my first year of college and first year of beaver fanhood. I didn’t mind it aesthetically but now I think we can do better. I would be interested to see the “interlocking OSU logo, with sort of a modernistic but collegiate approach” that Tinker talked about. I’m never going to call our school OS. We are OSU so that should be our logo.

    I think the Beaver logo could use some modification. Just some updating to make it look more modern (not purposely futuristic). Look at some of these NFL logos at the link below (Lions, Falcons, Cardinals, Seahawks have been updated recently). They didn’t make huge changes but did make improvements.
    http://www.sportslogos.net/league.php?id=7

    Anything Nike will throw our way (now that they seem to really be thinking of stuff that fits our identity and we know they’re working to please us) will be great. I really hope it happens. I mean, despite seeming shallow to older fans looking “cool” is really important to younger fans. We need to make OSU look cooler to the younger crowd if we want our program and school to grow in-state and out.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      I don’t think it’s shallow…whenever I go out and know I look good I exude more confidence and do better in life. It’s human nature and a well-known fact.

      • Diggs says:
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        As well as just being proud too… you can be proud on the inside about what your program is, but if you can represent it visually as well. Then double points.

  • JackBeav says:
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    Someone thought about this last year…
    http://blog.oregonlive.com/behindbeaversbeat/2008/11/tuesday_with_coach_riley_and_a.html
    I could go for the same helmet with the U added. And stop swaling the letters. OSU is traditionally a layered or cascaded look… well, traditionally we had numbers on our helmets. I still think we can carry the number from the jersey to the helmet and have one sharp uniform. Imagine the OSU boldly across the chest, and if we must keep the angry muskrat then imagine the BEAVERS on the engine taking the place of the 80’s fad cursive.
    http://blog.oregonlive.com/beavers/2007/12/OSUplane2.jpg
    Honestly, I can do without a cartoon altogether. Put the number on the left side of an all black helmet. Put the OSU across the chest. And put just BEAVERS–no cartoon–on the thigh where the emaciated, rabid Benny resides over the same cursive script that 20 other teams have used for the past several years. Plain, simple, elegant, and now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to beat you to a pulp.

    Read the comments from the altered helmet photo, and you start to realize what a mixed bag we have for fans. Some think the ten year old cartoon is classic. Some think we need to keep it so it can become classic. Most don’t want to change because they see the poor choices that the Ducks make every year, and they probably imagine that the designers of the day think that crap is cool and would push it on our unsuspecting and un-hip AD.

  • JackBeav says:
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    And before we throw Nike under the bus for not being the benevolent benefactor some anti-change people imagine we all think it is, let’s remember that Nike only makes money if it sells our gear. If it sells more and more of our gear, we also make money with the licensing necessary to produce said gear.

    More sales means more money. Are you listening Bobby D?

  • OSBeavs says:
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    The marketing that Nike can provide would be huge. Not only would the rebranding allow our programs to have cohesiveness, Nike will also sell our products nation wide as a Tier 1 program. The increase in merchandise sales increases profits and recognition. That recognition extends beyond casual fans but hopefully recognition combined with wins earns more national credibility and better TV contracts.

    I would say though that I like our colors right now (would hate burnt orange, that is Texas), maybe a flatter black would be cool. A flatter black like the steelers because as Tinker calls us, the small-town steelers. Also, the mention about the numbers on one side of the helmet would again be a nod to the steelers because the logo is only on one side. I am not a huge steelers fan but I would have to say that I am envious of the success they have combined with their hard nosed style of football. Another helmet logo idea would be placing whatever new logo generated on the side of the helmet. I must say that it is good to make sure that whatever Nike does with us is a solid choice but I wouldn’t want to shy away from them. I know Tinker must like us, he let his son play football here ;-). Btw when I was in high school our AD denied a Nike request to place logos on our new turf field in exchange for paying the field off and brand new jerseys. It was a terrible idea, wish he had done it. I think in some way his choice cost him his job because shortly there after he resigned.

  • Orange says:
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    I personally really like the solid orange jersey / black bottom / black helmet combo. Ever since the 2008 upset over USC, watching Quizz break off huge runs in that combo, whenever I see them wearing this combo I get a good feeling about whats going to transpire. The rest of the uni combos I could go either way.

    Michael Jordan plays basketball; Charles Manson kills people; Nike pimps product, it’s what it’s good at. I like what Bob D has done so far, If he’s shied away from what Nike has put forward it probably wasn’t indicative of the direction he wanted the program to pursue. I would like to see what they proposed though. So long as it is the exact opposite of everything the ducks are I am happy. A good throwback, classic style. I do like the idea of a solid black helmet with a white number, a la Alabama.

  • Beavker says:
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    All of this would be moot if we’d win a couple damned Rose Bowls and be in National Title talks. There are a lot of Ass ugly uniforms out there, like most of the Ducks Uni’s, Va Tech, and I used ot like Cal’s, but I hate the yellow half stipe and all the other crap on the Uni’s. Simplistic is good, you just have to have people recognize you for you’re play on the field. Simple uni’s and rare changes. USC. Nebraska. Notre Dame. People know who these guys are, first and foremost, and don’t require flashy uni’s. Win a national championship and you could put Surfer Barbie on the side with fishnet pants. Win it all, and everyone would be wearing it because we were…just like Paris Hilton.

    • JackBeav says:
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      I think the point is that Nike feels we have garnered enough national attention to put us in their Tier 1 program. They see us beating USC, UO, Cal and winning our bowl games… all on national TV. They see us hanging tough on the road at USC and UO in a rebuilding year. Let’s face it. This year was really a lot better than expected given the experience on our O-line and defense.

      The project took off three years ago from what I gather, but we’ve been slow to accept anything. I have to hand it to the Tribune for doing some real news work… again… in the void of news provided by the Groanian.

      Of course… Nike probably spurred the story since they know how best to market themselves. Hmmm… maybe they are marketing geniuses.

  • OS_Beaver says:
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    I like our angry beaver helmets, but think we should have an alternate helmet. One could be black with orange numbers or white with orange. I think we should have black jerseys with orange numbers like our 1965 Rose Bowl team. I think we should have Nike present a few ideas and then have the team and Beaver Nation vote on them. Maybe our Angry Beaver could be modernized and improved where we don’t need Beavers written below it. Most ‘State’ schools have some kind of mascot image and I would keep that for some logo because it adds to recognition and image if well done. The angry beaver actually did alot in improving our image and rallying Beaver Nation.

    • JackBeav says:
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      I think it had more to do with the facilities and personnel upgrades that happened during the same years. The only other time we had a cartoon on our helmets was 1973-74.

  • JackBeav says:
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    Think of a solid black football helmet like this…
    http://buyfootballstuff.com/images/A-3-Blk-Sde3test.gif
    Now put a white OSU on black forehead plate and the same color BEAVERS on the back plate using this font…
    http://blog.oregonlive.com/beavers/2007/12/OSUplane2.jpg
    An orange number on the side for each player to personalize the helmet, and we’re done. There is no black numbered helmet out there that I can find, so I’m guessing it would be unique.

    Then we can talk to Nike about selling cold weather gear like this…
    http://product.images.fansedge.com/51-02/51-02067-F.jpg
    And rain gear like this…
    http://www.corbisimages.com/images/NF119103.jpg?size=67&uid=CD2670FB-3EF1-4A1A-AEBF-070751CB03CB
    They would have the same markings and colors as the on-field helmets, and they can be personalized or customized just like jerseys.

  • OrangeAid says:
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    You are so right! Branding starts with establishing a vision and deciding what promise the organization is trying to make with its customers. Without that starting point, it really doesn’t matter if the service is free or downright expensive…it will be a waste of time and eventually $$$$!

    But if they do it right, they can establish visual identities that actually have meaning, which can then be tested with different stakeholders to see if they work or not. After that review, one single unifying identity can be selected. That identity needs to have some consistent elements whether the university is promoting academics or athletics.

    As much as there is hodgepadge at OSU, lets not think that the University of Oregon has done a great job matching a vision with visual identity. At best the visual identity states that they are confused! Colors and elements of uniforms and mascots still lack cohesion. And other than performance on the field, how memorable can a team be if they were different uniforms every time they take the field.

    Also, no one should care what Hatfield or De Carolis thinks. Hatfield’s primary motivation is oriented to Nike and De Carolis only represents a portion of the university. A populist revolt from boosters, students, alumni and other interested stakeholders can move mountains.

    Finally, the one underlying goal that needs to be established is the need to eliminate the confusion that exists with any other OSU.

  • […] crisis, new uniforms, cohesive logo. I wrote about this over a year ago. You can read it here and here. Sadly, image is important (almost everything). These things matter. How would you feel going on a […]

  • ctmhvvuvmnwo says:
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    gcychxkaickz

  • mb says:
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    Hyperbole. The sky is falling and the emperor has no clothes so the world will end tomorrow. Seems like a new #2 guy was hired a couple of months ago to straighten the marketing end of the program. Give him a bit of time to sort this out. Marketing campaigns, they come and they go. Today my image is “The Bullfrog” by Henry Gibson. Tomorrow I am a lotus flower. The experts with the expert advice? A program ruled by consultants is a dead civilization…just ask Rasputin or Bismarck or John Yoo how things worked out.

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