The Big Ten Conference, the oldest and largest Division I college athletic association in the United States, has recently undergone some pretty big changes. Aside from adding it’s 12th member (the University of Nebraska – Lincoln) in July of 2011, the conference’s logo will also change. You may have Nebraska to blame, as the addition of the twelfth member renders the conference’s outgoing logo obsolete in one key area.
Pentragram partners, Michael Bierut and Michael Gericke (both are graduates of Big 10 schools) and their creative team headed up the redesign, which plays off of the existing use of negative space to create two words within one, without reference to the current number of member institutions.
“Seeing two numbers at once is clever, but it means redesigning the logo every time the conference expands… it was time for something direct and simple,” (Michael Bierut).
Direct and simple – absolutely. Pentagram’s resulting design is a logo that features bold, slab-serif collegiate lettering and an immediately recognizable “10” embedded within the word “BIG”. To create a “visual bridge from one word to the next, the “I” in “BIG” was cleverly changed into the number “1”. The logo has the staying power the outgoing logo lacked as future additions to the conference will not have an impact on the logo itself.
“Going forward, fans will know The Big Ten will always be the Big Ten,” (Michael Gericke, Pentagram).
This design may very well be the perfect solution to an obvious problem that the conference was facing: a look with too much focus on the present, and not enough focus on either the past or the future. It’s effectiveness lies in its simplicity, which allows it to be used across a wide variety of formats for branding purposes.