OGDEN, Utah -- The Big Sky Conference unveiled its new logo and branding campaign Monday as part of the league's Summer Football Kickoff in Park City, Utah.
For the past year, the Division I Big Sky Conference has been working with SME, Inc., on a rebrand, a process that will continue through 2013-14 when the league celebrates its 50th anniversary, and the 25th anniversary of sponsoring women's sports. The Big Sky now includes 11 full members in nine states, plus two football affiliate members.
SME, Inc., is a renowned strategic brand development firm who was responsible for the rebranding of the Pac-12 among other prominent collegiate and professional sports properties.
The new logo is a dynamic and exciting new expression of the Big Sky Conference brand, which upholds and forwards all the promise that the name suggests in both opportunity and optimism. It features the color of the sky (two blues and white), the sky element itself as well as a visual progression within the logo from the ocean up to the mountains, then down to the plains. The mark presents all of elements within a fresh new retaining shape that demands attention and stands apart.
"A dream finally came true with the rebranding of the Big Sky Conference,'' said league Commissioner Doug Fullerton. "We have a fresh and exciting new logo, new colors and a new league mentality. All of which speaks to the fact that we represent the dreams and aspirations of our alumni, student-athletes, institutions, and communities."
"The overarching goal of the process was to create a dramatic and fresh new identity that ensures the Big Sky Conference's future success,'' said SME Chief Creative Officer Ed O'Hara.
At the core of the new brand lay the unique and shared values of Authenticity, Integrity, Fearlessness, Honesty and Loyalty.
"These values will be used to measure everything we do – from partners we consider aligning with, to how we judge student-athlete behavior, to whether or not we consider entrance of new schools that wish to join our conference,'' Fullerton said.
Because of the recent additions of Southern Utah University and the University of North Dakota as full members, and Cal Poly and UC Davis joining as football members, it proved to be the perfect time for the league to update its identity.
This marks the first time the 49-year-old league has undergone a rebranding campaign. The league had used the prior logo since the mid-1990s. Big Sky institutions will also feel ownership in the logo, as it has been designed in all 13 school's official colors. The new logo will appear on uniforms, fields and playing courts in each university's colors.
"We wanted to be sure that our Big Sky Conference brand was a compelling representation of who we have been, who we are now, and most importantly, who we aspire to be in the future,'' said Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. "Additionally, we wanted to add value to our conference brand as we enter future negotiations and continue current relationships with partners and sponsors."
The unveiling and rebrand comes after a very deliberate and thoughtful process. SME, Inc. spoke extensively with all of the major key stakeholders ranging from fans, alumni, media, coaches, administrators and university presidents.
"We uncovered certain truths about our conference that are unique and different,'' Fullerton said. "This led to our new identity and that will be built upon in the coming years. We think the overall new look and feel of our conference properly expresses our essence and the essence of our fans, student athletes, member schools and our partners
The Big Sky Conference is one of the premier Division I Football Championship Subdivision conferences, having won six national championships. The league plays at the Division I level in all of its sports. The league has positioned itself as one of just three football-playing conferences in the western United States, along with the Pac-12 and Mountain West.
During a turbulent time in conference realignment, the Big Sky has been able to remain stable, adding schools without losing one. The leagues still features four charter members – Idaho State University, The University of Montana, Montana State University, and Weber State University.
"It is very clear that the business landscape within collegiate athletics has never been more competitive, with realignment domination the space and conferences trying harder than every to win the hearts and minds of fans, student-athletes, partners and sponsors,'' Fullerton said. "So more than ever, we realized that we needed to stand apart by discovering our true points of difference and shouting that difference for all to hear. Additionally, we needed to refresh our brand to have higher appeal to a new generation of millennials.''
SME (SMEbranding.com) is an independent strategic branding, advertising, marketing and digital agency, specializing in connecting with audiences through powerful identity development, digital strategy, advertising and social media engagement.
About the Big Sky Conference
The Division I Big Sky Conference will celebrate its 50th season in 2013-14, and now consists of 11 full members and two football-affiliate members. Schools are located in nine states: (Eastern Washington University, Idaho State University, The University of Montana, Montana State University, the University of North Dakota, Northern Arizona University, the University of Northern Colorado, Portland State University, Sacramento State, Southern Utah University, and Weber State University). Cal Poly and UC Davis are football-affiliate members. The league sponsors 15 sports.