Opinion: Boise State branding is a bust

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Written by junior graphic design major Maddie Ceglecki. Ceglecki is enrolled in Boise State’s graphic design program and is the graphic design manager for Student Media at Boise State.

Graphic Design. What is it? I’ll explain it like you’re five, since you probably think it’s just making advertisements for billboards. And you’ll think if someone has a passion for it, there would probably be a frog involved and the font papyrus. But that is just surface level. Graphic designers know about typography, color, visuals, images and how to give people a message. But doing it successfully? That’s where it gets tricky. Do it in a successful and interesting way? Slow down there, guy.

Let’s get into how this relates to Boise State. In 2001 we had the release of the blue logo with the three pillars. A diamond in the middle that represented the river, the mountains and cityscape of Boise. Pretty terrible. This logo was meant mostly for on-paper sort of branding. Business cards, letterheads, etc. And somewhere in this realm Angry Buster Bronco and the text underneath him existed. Obviously, in terms of consistency in our branding, we were a little lost.

Fast forward to 2011, we become reborn. The B you know and love to take Instagram photos in front of becomes the new standard. Luckily enough, the design was pulled from our old angry friend the Bronco. He wasn’t forgotten either in our rebirth. Thank the graphic gods for that as well. But let me make some connections for you: rebranding based off our athletic logo, from a company famous for athletics, to make our brandings more consistent with the athletic logo. Are you catching on?

The Nike baby is born.

Boise State just wants to fit in with the other colleges, and like other colleges, has made their athletics a staple in the design of their brands. According to the Idaho Business Review, “Other large universities also share an academic and athletic logo. The University of Washington, University of Oregon and Washington State University all have their athletic logos prominently displayed on their academic websites.” Boise State attempted to follow in the footsteps of one of the most interesting and out-there brands in college graphics: University of Oregon.

Boise State’s own branding is, to say the least: a little constricted. Blue and Orange. And if you’re getting even crazier: Blue, Orange, and the fonts Gotham and Garamond. Yet we follow in the footsteps of the colleges that came before us, like the University of Oregon which is the king of Nike Children, but they do the graphics right. The University of Oregon has been known for changing football attire and being the most unique.

It doesn’t seem that Boise State even has a purpose to the brand other than having a brand. “A unified campus with a consistent brand and mission strengthens the university. A clear message and visual identity reflect a multi-faceted, but the unified, organization — as a Metropolitan Research University of Distinction.” Essentially be the brand, the brand is us, we are the brand, “Brands are performance driven.” But how do we perform?

Compare the mission of University of Oregon. “Our brand is the education we provide, the research we conduct, the discoveries we make, the environment we inhabit, and the community we belong to. It’s the thousands of alumni whose legacy we continue, and the thousands of lives this amazing place has transformed. It’s our mission. It’s how we treat each other. It’s how we interact with our community and the world.”

I mean, come on. They take branding and sending a message to a whole new level. They said, “this is us and what we want to do.” They even have a vocabulary to play by: Irreverent, Progressive, Extraordinary, Alive, Natural, Inclusive.

If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.

When and how is Boise State going to start? First, get away from the mindset of being the brand and the brand only “Brands are performance driven.” But how do we perform? We are at Boise State University. We took on the blue turf which made us innovative. We became a staple in the best city in the country which made us all-encompassing for all lifestyles across America. We are builders of our reputation. Our recognition has been built here at home.

Step away from perfection and aligning with the crowd. Get monochromatic. Get experimental.

We have built the foundation and it’s high time to show what we can do with it and the best way is through experimentation and also realizing that being a school built through athletics doesn’t mean we have to rely on only athletics or a brand built to sustain just the surface of Boise State and what we can do.


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