The University of North Dakota has a new athletic logo.
It’s plain. It’s simple. It’s uninspired. It’s, dare I say, everything the old Fighting Sioux logo wasn’t.
Yes, it’s serviceable, kinda sleek and very modern. But it’s just not all that great, especially considering the amount of money spent on the change.
UND spent more than $200,000 to change its athletic nickname from Fighting Sioux to Fighting Hawks, an already-unpopular move that elicited a collective shoulder shrug amongst the majority of supporters and alumni who would have preferred something as unique as the Sioux.
Then, the university dropped around $50,000 to New York-based SME Branding to design the logo. (That’s just a bit under the median household income in North Dakota, by the way.)
So forgive people who wanted something jaw-dropping and inspired that looked like it cost $50,000. Forgive them for wanting a logo that actually helped them embrace the blasé nickname forced upon the university and its supporters. Forgive the 71 percent of people who, in an unscientific Grand Forks Herald poll of nearly 6,700, said they “don’t like it at all.”
Some on social media even comically compared UND’s new logo to some weird mashup of the U.S. Postal Service emblem and the retired Burlington Northern Sante Fe logo. Others took to Photoshop and put “Just Say” in front of the logo because instead of the logo, critiquing that it looks more like a “NO” than “ND”.
Many people weren’t going to be happy no matter what logo UND trotted out. The Fighting Sioux logo and nickname removal will resonate for years. Some will never get over it. Others, including me, see missed opportunity in the Fighting Hawks nickname and logo. What drove it home for me was when a student-designed Fighting Hawks logo appeared on my Facebook page Friday.
UND student Blaine Durward of Trenton deserves a tip of the hat for designing his own Fighting Hawks logo that not only incorporated elements of North Dakota, Grand Forks and Native American heritage, but simply looked cool both on apparel and standing alone.
Durward even went so far as to show what UND football and basketball uniforms would like look with the his logo elements incorporated, as well as how it could be used on the Alerus Center football field and the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center basketball court.
His typography was solid, the colors were on point and the fact that he found a way to incorporate a negative space outlining the state of North Dakota into the Hawks’ beak and torso was brilliant. The only knock on Durward’s Hawk is that it was a bit on the cartoonish side. Still, it was a hundred times more powerful than the logo UND chose.
According to an article in UND’s Dakota Student newspaper, Durward didn’t even submit the design because he wasn’t part of a design firm — one of the stipulations UND placed on those who wanted to submit logo designs. Just think of the positive outpouring the university would have received if Durward would have been allowed to compete and actually won.
While the logo UND chose isn’t great, its decision isn’t the end of the world either. All of us — alumni, supporters and fair-weather fans alike — will deal with it.
Because at the end of the day, it is only a logo. It just isn’t a very good one.