WMU Athletics takes new approach to visual identity | Sports

Western Michigan University’s name change has been a source of controversy since it was announced to the public in 2021.

Many took issue with the newly unveiled W circle that was meant to be the university’s main visual identity, especially when the design began to appear on the uniforms of several Athletic Department teams and on the ice at Lawson Arena in a photo Twitter in 2021.

Following this, Tony Proudfoot, Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communications for WMU, said the new logo was not only intended to be the primary representation of the school in academics going forward, but also in athletics.

As the school year progressed, longtime athletic director Kathy Beauregard announced her retirement, paving the way for Oregon State assistant DA Dan Bartholomae to take the job and explore their own options.

Bartholomae was aware of the change in visual identity when he arrived and was eager to get feedback from the community not only on marketing efforts, but also on other athletics-related topics. It surprisingly didn’t get a lot of branding comments despite its polarizing nature.

“Connecting with our student-athletes was a priority for me walking through the door immediately, but just as important, getting feedback from our constituents,” Bartholomae said. “I surveyed student-athletes and sent it out to all of our donors, constituents, and alumni association board members. To be honest with you, I got very little feedback on the visual identity.

He did, however, gather a piece of information that will guide the foreseeable future of the WMU athletics visual identity. People missed the bronco head.

“What I heard that was consistent was ‘we love the Bronco,'” Bartholomae said. “We started looking to create the right balance with what’s already been established, and having athletics have an identity within what’s been established, I kind of thought we should lead with (the ) Bronco.”

Bartholomae decided at this point that the spiritual head was going to be a distinct visual identity exclusively for athletics, and his vision began to be realized around campus. In a promotional video for men’s basketball, the Spirit Head is prominently displayed in maroon and white on center court at Read Fieldhouse. The central ice area of ​​Lawson Arena now also contains the logo, as seen in images shared by a fan on Twitter.

“The ice and the pitch were kind of a test,” Bartholomae said. “Let’s get this out on video, see what people think. And now what we’re going to do is we take those early comments, we take what resonated with the fans, and we start establishing consistency.

Although these changes were made in direct contradiction to Proudfoot’s comments in 2021, Bartholomae says he, Proudfoot and President Edward Montgomery all agreed on the use of the spirit head after comments and research emerged. suggested its popularity.

“Tony and obviously the president (Montgomery) are supportive of what we’re doing.” said Bartholomew. “I think the SWOT analysis and specific feedback from our fans told a really compelling story.”

Bartholmae says his goal in the revamp is not just to better connect with alumni and the current fanbase, but to establish a strong identity and create connectivity within the department.

“You’re going to start seeing more consistency,” Bartholomae said. “I think it’s important. I walk around here, there are a million different things. I think we’re starting to find the right balance with brown and gold. I know we liked the brown and white a lot, with the gold being kind of an accent color behind it.

He continued, “If the Spirit Mark energizes them (the fans), then I promise you there will be a million Spirit Marks around the place. We feed off your energy and we’re gonna ask you to bring it, man.

Bartholomae says we won’t be seeing the Waldo Stadium turf or most of the uniforms featuring the spirit head yet this year due to many decisions made prior to his arrival, but he hopes to accomplish those changes in the near future.

Briana R. Cross