Big Ten—err, Big Twelve?—Changes Logo


Anybody who can turn on a television knows that the Big Ten is not lacking talent in the sports department. However, the logo design department is another story altogether. The organization recently released a new logo that takes them from a little boring to flat-out weird. Does the new Big Ten logo design work for a sports organization of their prominence?

The old logo design featured the name of the conference in large, collegiate lettering. The dark blue color was carefully selected as it is not a color used by any of the member schools. It is very easy to see the ‘11’ hidden in the image, referring to the fact that the Big Ten actually included eleven schools.

This year brought several changes including another conference member. With twelve members now, the conference had to change their logo. Many elements are the same—collegiate font, use of the color blue (albeit a different hue), and hiding a number in the lettering. However, instead of embedding a twelve into a similar design, the designers decided to hide a numeral ten in their image. Rather than using negative space for a numeral as their predecessors did, the new designers simply made the letters do double duty as letters.

The result is a logo design that is frankly too plain and too simple. While we are huge advocates of simple design, there is nowhere to put your eyes on this image. The numerals don’t really make sense either as part of the conference (which has twelve members) or as part of this logo design. The blue is a little too bright and feminine, almost assaulting your eyes when viewed on a computer screen. To put it bluntly, this is a massive design fail.

The designer’s claim that the new logo “…evolved from the previous logo’s use of negative space and is built on the conference’s iconic name, without reference to the number of member institutions.” Um, no reference? Am I the only one who sees the giant “10”? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, folks.

We can see that the conference wanted a logo that was not going to be automatically out of date the next time they accept a new member. However, since the number eleven was representing the real number of members, the numeral ten feels dishonest here.  Why not begin a new tradition and scrap the old logo entirely, coming up with a completely new design? In addition, the use of negative space was clever, but the new letter/numbers simply are not. The new logo has a childish and amateurish feel about it that does not represent this prominent organization well.

We aren’t the only ones who aren’t in love with the new design. The general reaction on the web has vacillated between whining and total outcry. It just doesn’t make sense. But, on the other hand, we are talking about an organization with twelve members that still calls itself the Big Ten. Maybe the logo design doesn’t need to make sense after all!