Michigan State won’t change logo design

FOX Sports Detroit wire services

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That was decision made today by the Michigan State athletic department, which issued a letter saying a controversial marketing plan to alter the Spartans’ logo is dead.

“After careful consideration, we will use the current Spartan logo design, first used in the late 1970s, to build our visual brand identity,” said MSU athletic director Mark J. Hollis.

Hollis said the decision comes after “a flurry of concern and discontentment among some of our students, alumni, and fans.”

Hollis’ complete letter addressed to Spartan Nation:

We Gather and Engage Our Community to Teach, Support, and Celebrate our Student-Athletes in Their Quest for Excellence!

That’s the mission I had in mind since day one.  But it can’t be done alone.

Our vision of a “consistent and national identity” was designed to bring everyone together.  By that, I mean everyone — from our administration to our student-athletes to you as a Spartan.

When I accepted this position, I stated that as your Athletic Director everything would be done with ONE FOCUS.  Having been on this campus for more than 30 years as a student, alumnus, and employee, I have often observed that, as Spartans, we have not always been headed in the same direction.  Nowhere has this fact more obvious than in the outward appearance of our team uniforms.  We have been an athletic program of different greens, logos, word-marks, and uniform quality.  There has been a lack of consistency with regard to our brand.  This inconsistency was a result both of using multiple suppliers for our apparel and of uniform decisions being made without a department-wide focus.

After assuming the Athletic Director position, one of my initial objectives was to outfit each of our sports teams in a consistent manner and to do so as a component of a unique and cohesive national brand identity program.  To accomplish this task, we expanded our partnership with Nike so that every one of our 25 teams and nearly 800 student-athletes will all wear Nike-designed uniforms and apparel.  We feel fortunate to have Nike as a partner, not only to improve the way our teams look, but also for the unique performance advantages their products provide.

As part of the expanded partnership, we requested Nike conduct a department-wide assessment of our brand and identity.  It’s important to note that this request came as part of our agreement with Nike, but was not a condition of it.  There was no cost to MSU for this service.  Members of my staff, university administration, and I guided Nike designers through this in-depth process that is still in the final stages of completion.

In this process, Nike has suggested various innovative concepts and design elements, yet it is always Michigan State University that determines the direction we will take.  Input from student-athletes, coaches, alumni, donors, students, faculty, and university public relations advisors have been involved in this process.

The recent disclosure of an updated Spartan logo from a trademark registration process has resulted in a flurry of concern and discontentment among some of our students, alumni, and fans.  I have given careful attention to thoughtful comments received and sought additional counsel regarding how ideas might be incorporated into the overall strategic brand and identity process.  Our primary objective is to achieve a strong and consistent Spartan brand, but rest assured that, as our mission statement attests, bringing Spartans together is one of our fundamental values. 

Our identity and branding process is nearing completion and is on schedule for a complete rollout in April.  The elements and applications of the brand design will be unveiled collectively at that time.  After careful consideration, we will use the current Spartan logo design, first used in the late 1970s, to build our visual brand identity. Using sound branding principles, the university will continue to register some variations of our Spartan logo in order to ensure that this symbol is well protected and firmly associated with Michigan State University.  As an athletic department, we are excited about our branding and identity process.  We understand, given the tremendous exposure we bring to the university, that our work is an important part of Michigan State’s overall university brand.  As we go forward, we will ensure that elements of the athletics visual brand identity align with and support the university brand.

As an athletics department and as a university, we are dedicated to maintaining an appreciation for our past while also being committed to moving our university and athletic program boldly into the future.  As Spartans, I believe we can all pull together and embrace the mission of standing together with one focus