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Ferd's Words

New Mountain West logo may be bold, not beautiful


To the list of things for the University of Hawaii and its fans to get used to in the transition to the Mountain West Conference next year you can now add…

The MWC logo?

It could require a good chunk of the 389 days remaining before the Warriors officially join the conference as a football-only member to get comfortable with the monolithic, three dimensional block letters of "M" "W" unveiled in La Jolla, Calif., Monday and coming to the Aloha Stadium turf in 2012.

The first casuality of the restructuring of the MWC that officially begins next month is the familiar mountain range logo that has identified and served the conference well since its 1999 inception.

Indeed, when the MWC rolled out the new prototype last month at the conference’s annual joint council meetings, officials said the initial reaction among some administrators was, “ ‘gosh, we really like the (original) logo, the mountains and everything.’ ”

You wish that had been the last word on the subject.

But, with three members departing — Brigham Young (2011), Utah (’11) and Texas Christian (2012) — and four coming on board — Boise State (’11), UH (’12), Fresno State (’12) and Nevada (’12) — commissioner Craig Thompson said it was a matter of reflecting a less mountain-centric membership while projecting strength. “Part of it is dictated by the Hawaii time zone and four Pacific time zone (members); it is not just the mountain time zone anymore, so that was part of it” Thompson said.

Still, you wish they had somehow stayed faithful to the natural context. As Joseph Stanton, an associate professor of art at UH, puts it, “There are so many ways that a logo could say, ‘mountain’ and ‘west’ using natural imagery. Mountains, after all, are among nature’s sublime wonders. Why, with a mountain as your motif, would you choose block letters suggestive of urban concrete?”

No doubt mindful of the continued battles for a place at the lucrative Bowl Championship Series trough to be waged, the conference said it wanted “bold” and “unique” symbolism.  It desired “attitude” and a “corporate” look. For what will be a $250,000-plus investment in rebranding, it got all that.

“It does it in sort of an old-fashioned and kind of a dull way,” said Anne Bush, UH art professor and graphic design area chair. “It builds a big box and, I think, the colors are outdated. No matter what we say about identities not being fashions, they are to a degree (and) you want to feel like someone is on top of an idea or leading the pack for the lack of a better term.”

As new logos go — and rebranding conferences is a booming industry these days — the MWC’s new logo falls somewhere between the clean simplicity of the new Pac-12 version and the arrogant and apparently unfinished “BIG” of the Big Ten, no doubt eventually to become the Big 16.

Meanwhile, UH’s other teams need not fear the school’s other soon-to-be-new home running to the drawing board anytime soon. “We have no current plans to change our logo,” said Dennis Farrell, Big West commissioner.

And it probably isn’t because someone just took his idea.


Reach Ferd Lewis at

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