• Transform magazine
  • July 16, 2019


Refreshed brand links Tribe and college more closely

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The second-oldest university in the United States, the College of William & Mary, has a strong academic reputation, it is based in an iconic, colonial town and it has famously educated three early American presidents. Its athletics programme, while strong – particularly in basketball – had a brand that didn’t live up to that renown.

Known as the Tribe – a moniker that replaced the earlier ‘Indians’ – the athletics programme has also been represented by a griffin mascot since 2010, but the stylised ‘Tribe’ insignia was no match for the university’s reputation. Last week, William & Mary announced a new approach to its athletics brand, including a new logo and altered naming concept.

The new logo, an interlocking W and M in a unique typeface, rendered in gold and green reflects one of the college’s most prominent historic athletics logos. It also connects the athletics brand more closely with the university brand – a green and gold wordmark in a serif type.

“Having a strong and recognisable brand is important as we pursue excellence as a department,” says athletics director Samantha Huge. “While we remain the Tribe, the new logo provides us with a more powerful connection to the university and will allow us to more seamlessly elevate the entire institution's visibility on a national scale.”



Through this shift, the name ‘Tribe’ will not disappear, but it will feature less prominently on marketing materials, on-site touchpoints, uniforms and the like. The new brand will also include a more fierce looking griffin mascot more prominently than it had in the past. The griffin is, according to the brand introduction, important to the athletics programme. “The mythological creature features the body of a lion representing the creation by royal charter in London and the head of an eagle, representing the instrumental role W&M played in the American Revolution,” the brand introduction says.

The Tribe wordmark will be de-italicised and rendered in a bold sans serif, accompanying it is a green William & Mary logo in the same typeface. Both will be used more prominently in future across uniforms and other apparel, only. The university has also unveiled three key lockups, two are W&M logos in two formats and the third is a yellow W&M imposed on a griffin’s green wing, featuring the ‘Tribe’ name beneath it.

Coaches and other internal stakeholders have praised the change for the assistance the new brand will offer in terms of national recognition during competition, but also in terms of recruitment. Tony Shaver, head coach of the men’s basketball team, says. “As a basketball coach, I'm really excited about it. I think, in a nutshell, it's going to help make our program and our university more easily recognisable across the country, and I think it's going to help us take the next step, I really do. People in California or Wisconsin or Michigan may not know what the Tribe is, but they know William & Mary.”

The process began a year ago with consultations among key internal stakeholders and the university’s apparel partner Under Armour.

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