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Released January 29, 2003

NEW GOLDEN EAGLE COMES TO ROOST AT SOUTHERN MISS

A lot of the major colleges and professional teams change their logos from time to time for that reason. Our current athletic marks have been in use for more than 10 years. Apparel manufacturers are excited about adding a new eagle to our merchandise, and I think our fans and supporters will be also."

"We are excited about the new look for Southern Miss athletics, and it will have a very positive effect on our student-athletes and fans," said Jeff Bower, Southern Miss head football coach.

Rodney Richardson, principal owner of RARE Designs in Hattiesburg and a Southern Miss graduate, developed the logo and said the new identity represents the strength, pride and passion of what it means to be a Southern Miss Golden Eagle.

"Our design positioning was to create a classic athletic identity inspired by a strong tradition modernized to reflect the Southern Miss spirit of perseverance and achievement," he said. "Bold. Clean. Timeless."

A second development in the process was the issue of color, said Giannini. For the past couple of years, the athletic teams used a color named "Vegas Gold" on uniforms, but it was a hard color to duplicate in apparel. "We've been able to change to a different gold that we can use university-wide," Giannini said.

"I think you'll end up seeing a whole lot more people wearing gold," Bower agreed, saying, "The new golden eagle will be a powerful mark, and the consistency of color will add a lot of gold in the stadium at future games."

"After years of having two gold colors that were acceptable for university merchandise, printing, signage and athletic uniforms, we are pleased to be transitioning into one gold color for both the university and athletics," said Lisa Mader, director of marketing and public relations.

"What we've got now is a more distinctive and consistent look for our athletic teams," said Giannini. "That's one of the things we wanted to do in our branding, to be more consistent with what the university is doing in the ongoing branding for the university."

"We've had so many different variations of marks in the past, and that's made it hard to have a solid identity," said Gene Fitts, university collegiate licensing specialist. "The new mark is a very progressive look. I'm excited."

Fitts said he believes interest in the new look will spill over to consumers who will want to buy items with the new appearance. "In return, that will have a big impact on the university from royalties, which ultimately go back to the athletic program," said Fitts, predicting products carrying the new look will be available by early summer.

The Design Process: Much more than merchandising

Creating the new eagle identity was an intense process that RARE Design and the Southern Miss Athletics Department conducted in several stages for nearly a year. The process included a great deal of research, the use of focus groups, defining and refining the look, and finally, completing the look with accompanying typefaces and supporting marks, said Richardson.

The process began with extensive research, where RARE looked at the history of the Athletics Department and university. Next, they looked at color stories, graphic directions and the extension of possible logos into supporting graphics. Those ideas were then tested in focus groups. Findings from the focus groups led to changes in images and direction.

One comment that stood out among others from the focus groups came from Coach Jeff Bower, who said, "Character; heart; courage…define what Southern Miss football is all about."

"We knew we had to capture those words in our brand," said Richardson. "Athletic identities mean so much more to so many more people. You've got the passion of the students, fans and alumni, the representation of the history of the university, the vision of the Athletic Department and, not least, the authenticity of the athletes and game to represent," he added.

Although the new graphics and color play a huge role in licensing and marketing university athletics, Richardson said he believes they are relevant in representing athletic ideals. "Too often, team identity design focuses on the marketing aspect of the game rather than the team, athletes and sports themselves," he said. "People don't rally behind a logo. They rally behind the ideas that logo should represent in a clear, concise way. An identity is not about creating a graphic; it's understanding the story that makes Southern Miss athletics unique."

"The work Rodney and his team at RARE have done with the Southern Miss athletic brand works hand-in-hand with what we are doing to establish a brand for the entire university," said Danny Mitchell, president and CEO of GodwinGroup, the oldest and largest marketing and public relations firm in the Southeast. GodwinGroup designed the theme for the 2003 athletic season, "Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime," and currently is working with the university to develop a university-wide brand for the institution.

"I believe what we've captured in the design represents the strength, pride and passion of what it means to be a Southern Miss Golden Eagle," said Giannini. "The results certainly encapsulate the words used by our focus group members – courage, strength, pride – to describe the traits of our athletes."

RARE Design is a creative consortium of marketing, advertising and design expertise. RARE has created campaigns for professional athletic teams, major colleges and corporations, including Nike, Adidas, the Houston Texans and Home Depot.

click here to download an audio clip from the new logo press conference

Click above to download
an audio clip of Dr. Thames
and Richard Giannini

HATTIESBURG -- A new golden eagle in a new color has landed in the athletic roost at The University of Southern Mississippi and will soon be emblazoned on items from uniforms to programs to merchandise. The new athletic mark and new gold color, unveiled Wednesday by Southern Miss athletic officials and President Shelby F. Thames during a news conference, is an eagle head with a sleek, more modern, fierce look. It will be used as the primary mark for the Southern Miss athletic teams and will debut on uniforms beginning with the 2003 football season. The new golden eagle, which will be used on all athletic uniforms, publications, merchandise and marketing materials, will replace other marks previously used. A sleeker, more modernized form of the attack eagle will be unveiled next year. "We are thrilled with the outcome," said Richard Giannini, Southern Miss athletic director. "This new mark is truly our own and provides us with a distinctive look. Any time you add a new mark to your organization, people get excited about it.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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