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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
The University of Dayton Flyers' successful run in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament prompted school officials to seek a stronger, more iconic logo design.
The University of Dayton is following in the footsteps of a long list of other schools and corporations who have redesigned their logos in an effort to expand their brands to new markets and consumers.
UD's fresh logo is an effort to capitalize on the Flyers' successful run in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament with the goal of opening the team to new fans and recruits across the country.
"The new image is an investment in our athletic program's future," said Tim Wabler, UD's vice president and director of athletics. "This is a stronger, more iconic representation of our program and our sports teams - one that will set the direction for the next generation of Dayton Flyers."
Still, many UD faithful would rather keep the traditional Flyers logo that hadn't been changed in 22 years. The new logo has been met with mixed reviews, including a backlash of protests on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. UD alums have started an online petition at change.org asking the school to restore the "U" and adopt a new logo that they have created.
Many longtime fans simply aren't ready to embrace a radically new visual representation of their beloved Flyers that removes the uppercase "U" from the old logo and replaces it with three vertical blue lines that appear to many viewers to form the letter "V."
"When I fi rst saw it, I saw VD," said Cathy Clark, a season ticket holder who recently learned the lines are intended to represent the Flyers' wings. "If you have to explain that, that they're wings, it just doesn't make sense to change it."
Clark said she won a T-shirt with the new logo in an online drawing, but she won't have it on her back at the next Flyers' game: "I got an email from UD saying I won the T-shirt. I respectfully declined. I will not be wearing anything with the new logo, purchased or for free."
A logo redesign is one of the surest ways to let people know a franchise is making a change or moving in new direction, experts say, but logos are also highly subjective and always run the risk of alienating loyal followers.
Gap Inc., for example, last fall quietly swapped its old logo for a new one online, prompting such a fi restorm of criticism the company changed back to the old logo a week later. At the time, company executives told Wall Street they didn't realize how much people liked the old logo.
But the backlash was more likely the result of the dramatic change in the company's image for no apparent reason and with little upfront input from customers, said Tammy Katz, CEO of Katz Marketing Solutions in Columbus, and an adjunct professor of brand marketing at Ohio State University.
"If you want to do a successful branding or logo change, you fi rst have to be really clear about why you're doing it and what you're trying to accomplish," Katz said. "If you don't, you end up with this arbitrary artwork change that may or may not help you.
"The second thing you need to keep in mind is what the brand's history is and what its equities are so you make sure that you're basically keeping all of the aspects of the brand that are working for the brand," she said.
To avoid such pitfalls, Katz said, many companies adopt subtle changes made simply to update the image so it doesn't look dated.
Facebook, for example, made a tiny change to its logo last year by removing the blue line under the "f" symbol that has become virtually ubiquitous online. Hooters, American Airlines and Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble have also updated their images in recent years with logo changes that were largely indistinguishable from the old logos.
"I think UD went too far," Katz said. "They would have been better off 'contemporizing' the elements that worked, including the large 'D.' They didn't carry forward the power and the brand equity of the "UD," which is how the university is primarily known."
Despite the criticism, UD athletic department offi cials said they're happy with the new logo, which is more in line with what the college sports market demands.
"We needed a more uniform, comprehensive look that is really adaptable to modern college sports, which means digital broadcasts, uniforms, apparel, signage, recruiting," said Neil Sullivan, UD's deputy director of athletics. "We felt that the time had come to change that in listening to our coaches and listening to the people on the street out there selling our athletics programs."
"The new identify is more than a logo, and the word mark 'Dayton Flyers' will be still be prominently featured as it is now,'' he said.
Love it or hate, the new logo has already rejuvenated sales of UD licensed apparel and products that will generate millions of dollars in revenue for the school in the long run.
"Our phones have been ringing off the hook all day," said TJ Lee of UD apparel retailer Korporate Kasuals on Brown Street. "The vast majority of people who have come through our doors are curious to fi nd out what the new logo looks like and see it on a garment. Just about everyone who's walked through our doors has pretty much walked out with the new logo. I think once they see it, they realize that it's actually not that bad."
Contact this reporter at 937-225-2437 or email Randy.Tucker@coxinc.com