After spending 22 years lost in the wilderness, Pitt is back to looking like Pitt, after athletic director Heather Lyke and company unveiled a set of new logos and uniforms outside the Cathedral of Learning on Sunday.
It’s probably easy to take a cynical view of the things, considering how many iterations of blue and yellow/gold and different-looking Panthers fans have gone through.
But this is different. This isn’t, as Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi said on Sunday, Lyke putting her stamp on things.
This is finally, after so long, Pitt’s leadership being more concerned about the school looking like it should than whichever brand they prefer.
Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of this re-design that Lyke and company have had an input in.
But they’re the parts that are ephemeral. In this day and age of college athletics, uniform designs, secondary logos and number fonts come and go on a fairly regular schedule.
Love or hate the new gargoyle-inspired panther (FountainCat, anyone?) or the Cathedral arch inspired font? It’s OK either way, because they’re easy enough to change. Uniform designs are essentially fashion, and they need to change with the times.
Personally, I like the panther head, even if it looks a bit too similar to the logos of Georgia State and FIU (and Blackhawk High School!). The script Panthers wordmark feels a bit clunky. But they both fill a design need of having marks that fit multiple sized spaces with a rectangular primary logo.
Using the Cathedral of Learning, by far Pitt’s most recognizable brand, for iconography, is a no-brainer and will help connect the university and the athletics programs, a connection that has not always been as strong at Pitt as it is in other places.
The Cathedral arch font isn’t perfect, but is leaps and bounds better that the previous attempt, which rendered any rounded digit unrecognizable from the seats or the press box.
But again, put aside all of that. Fonts and secondary marks and the design inside the helmet stripe can be changed.
A school’s colors and primary logo should be timeless. Can you imagine Alabama playing in a color other than crimson or Texas not wearing a burnt orange Longhorn? Even closer to home, how about Penn State changing their shade of blue?
The most important part of a school’s brand are the colors and the primary logo.
Pitt hit those out of the park, or whichever other sports metaphor you prefer, and they did it not by implementing a new design or trying to put their own stamp on the universities brand, but by returning to what the people that care about the university wanted. It’s the lack of a personal stamp that makes Lyke’s choices stands out.
It probably took longer than it should have, but the mistakes made by former athletic director Steve Pederson and others have finally been undone. Pitt is back to looking like Pitt.