Big Ten Network Becomes BTN

By Mash Bonigala

You may not watch the Big Ten Network, but many Americans do. In fact, there is actually a Big Ten Network beamed into around 80 million homes, allowing fans of the conference to access information and games at any time, 24 hours per day since August of 2007.

This network is gaining popularity, which is a good reason to put a new focus on branding. It has shortened its name to BTN and is the proud owner of a new network logo design. This media company logo is intended to present Big Ten Network… er, BTN… as a professional sports network on par with any other and a representative of the twelve schools in the conference. We suspect that the use of initials is partly to deflect from the word ‘ten’ as this is not the actual number of involved schools.

The new name feels more like a network name—think of ABC, CNN, etc—and the logo is reminiscent of a sports network as well. The logo is extremely flexible, which is important. The subdued color scheme is not a central part of the brand, so it can be modified to create BTN logos in different school colors. The BTN President, Mark Silverman, has stated that this will make it easier to add other products to the brand. No specific products were named, but it is clear that the franchise will be expanding.

This change in brand name and logo design feels like a good move. While the logo is not mind-blowing, it is typical of sports networks. It can be used effectively in the network’s graphics and animations, as well as on the website. The logo has a simple color scheme in blue and white, which can be changed according to the school being referenced. The square shape is bold and substantial, but it is angled slightly to give a feeling of movement that is crucial for a sports network logo. The star adds a little sparkle while also adding interest.

The newly shortened name is within the square, while the original full name is below in blocky, collegiate letters. We suspect that as the network gains popularity, the full name will be gradually phased out and the initials embraced as the official name of the channel.

This network is rebranding at a great time: as the channel gains popularity, but with a substantial following already. This logo and name change is a good middle ground. It is distinctly sporty, but specific to the schools involved. It shows both the new and the old name so established fans can begin to make the mental switch.

Rebranding is a scary process, but as you can see, it often results in a more viable brand with the flexibility to allow growth. A growing company needs a brand that can accommodate changes. While the new logo is not very specific to the conference, it can easily be modified more in the future as the BTN brand continues to grow.