Dear Ohio State, With Love…
So here’s the deal. (THE) Ohio State Buckeyes are my college sports passion. Yes I know I’m from Texas, but it’s a family thing and I’m not into your minutia.
They’ve had this logo for their athletics going on 26 years now (Rickabaugh Graphics), and they’ve decided to update it to this just this week…It looks terrible, so I’m not surprised the response has been poor.
For those that can’t spot the difference, essentially they filled in all the gaps in “OHIO STATE”, leaving all the letterforms inconsistent and pretty appalling. I’d expect most non-designers to issue a “who cares”, but the minute I laid eyes on that I was really disappointed. It’s not even worth the update, and just comes off lazy. So I decided to go home, grab some grid paper, and then sketch up a few marks that I’m 100% convinced are more logical and aesthetically pleasing solutions. I obviously don’t expect the administration to give a crap about what I or anyone else thinks, but if they stumble upon this, please pray for a change of heart.
In general, college sports logos are simple, and rarely will you find something like this. They’re made to stand the test of time for decades, not to be rebranded every 10-15 years like professional teams.
Disclaimer that I did all of these in about two evenings, and don’t have the luxury of rounds of feedback or iterations to refine anything. So it is.
1.) Current Logo Revamp
Option 1 takes the logo they had and just simplifies it a bit. All the letters are equal weight, and the overall width of this version is extended so it’s easier to view when reduced in size. Is it a perfect revamp? No, but I think it’s a more timeless approach without all the fussiness of the intricate letterform issues that plague the current update.
2.) OSU Basic
This is probably the most simplified of all the options, which I consider to be a good thing. The Ohio State “Block O" is utilized in a more narrow execution, and the "S" in the middle has enough negative space to not get cramped if it’s greatly reduced in size. I love the subtlety of the "U" encasing the "O", giving the mark a protruding feel. The color version is a 3-color, but this could easily just be a 1-color or 2-color mark like what’s displayed on the t-shirt.
3.) “Block O” 2.0
I just mentioned the “Block O” in the previous option, which was the university’s main logo decades ago and is still very popular with fans. I wanted to do at least one “Block O” update of some sort, and this is it. The overall mark was derived from its usage on the fencing of Ohio Stadium. I gave it a beveled look for dimension, as well as a loose reference to the stained glass execution of the "Block O" in the Ohio Stadium rotunda. I even think the 1-color execution in black looks pretty slick, and a scarlet or gray version would be something I’d recommend if the bevel seemed too harsh.
4.) Buckeye Leaf “O”
Yeah, a buckeye leaf kind of looks like a pot leaf. That shouldn’t be news to anyone that has any idea whatsoever about American sports. It’s been utilized on university branding for a while now, but always as a blatant green leaf. The more I look at this one, the more I like it. It has the simple “Block O” enclosure, while not over-complicating it with a buckeye leaf that’s just been tacked on arbitrarily. I think this looks great in one or two color as a mark, but I think the pop of green on the t-shirt is very successful and keeps the mark from appearing too flat on the surface.
5.) Interlocking “OSU” Monogram
In my personal opinion, this is the best logo of the five. There’s just something classic about interlocking collegiate logos that are solidified with 100% equal line weight and spacing. All angles on the mark are utilized in 90’s or 45’s. I don’t really have much more to add to this one, as I think the execution speaks for itself. It’s sharp, simple, and consistent all throughout.
Anyway, I’m more worn out constructing this post than I was actually creating these things. I wouldn’t call these final solutions by any means, but I’m also not getting paid for this, so take it or leave it Gene Smith.
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