Virginia Tech and Nike Launch Hokies Brand Refresh

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Last Friday, Virginia Tech and Nike rolled out the results of a uniform revamp that will affect all sports at Virginia Tech, starting in the fall of 2016.

The revamp — it’s not accurate to call it a “rebranding” — was talked about by Athletic Director Whit Babcock in our interview from February. Specifically, Whit said:

Nike, at no charge to us, they pick about four or five schools each year that are their schools, and they go in with what they call the Nike Graphic Identity Group — GIG. They come in and they pull all your uniforms, and they take pictures all over campus. And what’s amazing is how, over time, there’s creep away from your logo, the colors start to vary a little bit, one coach in one sport wants to use cursive, the other wants to use this, and before long all your consistency is gone.

So the Nike Graphic Identity Group comes back in, and they clean up your wordmarks, they get the colors back right, they changed our font to be more consistent …Nike can give you some off the wall stuff too, and they can present that, but it’s always up to the school to pick what we’ll accept.

So this also took place back in October [2015], and what will now be unveiled later this year and into the fall is more consistent colors, more consistent fonts, our own Chicago maroon, Hokie maroon type thing, all the same numerical fonts, all the same script and it’s like, “Let’s bring this back, and we can have some flash, but let’s bring this back to class and a tight, clean look.”

The results of the work between Nike’s Graphic Identity Group and Virginia Tech were introduced last Friday, in a release that received less hype than one might expect. Googling “Nike Virginia Tech” and “Virginia Tech Nike Branding” produces very few articles on the subject, including none from hokiesports.com or vt.edu.

Hokiesports.com did, however, announce the launch on their Twitter account (and possibly on other platforms; I didn’t check.)

Note that they call it a “brand refresh,” not a “rebranding.”

Clicking the link in the tweet — http://www.hokiesports.com/brand/ — gives you background on what went into the brand refresh.

Let’s do what most people want to do: just look at the pictures. We’ll start with the Olympic sports, then move through baseball, hoops, and finally football.

The “New Unis” photos below are from the hokiesports.com branding page linked above. The “Current Unis” photos  are also from hokiesports.com, with the exception of the men’s basketball and football photos, which are by TechSideline.com photographer Ivan Morozov (click here to view Ivan’s web site, jam-packed with photos of Virginia Tech athletics and the Virginia Tech campus).

Lacrosse

lax_comparison

 

In what you’ll see is a recurring theme, the old and new unis are very similar, with the updated fonts being the major difference, as well as orange numbers trimmed in maroon, instead of vice versa.

Volleyball

volleyball_comparison

The changes here are similar to the lacrosse changes: very similar unis, with updated fonts and orange numbers now trimmed in maroon.

Softball

softball_comparison

There’s a big difference here, though I don’t attend enough softball games to know if the current unis shown here are representative of the style and types of fonts generally used on VT softball uniforms. Baseball and softball tend to have a lot of variant uniforms, and I wonder if that will continue, or if the uniforms for those programs will be more “standard,” similar to the new orange uni shown on top, with colors swapped in and out.

Speaking of baseball ….

Baseball

baseball_comparison

The new uniforms are a much cleaner look. The word “bland” might actually apply here. But again, baseball tends to have a lot of variants, and baseball is one of the sports that is likely to use cursive script Hokies on their uniforms. So we’ll see if the uniforms used by the baseball team all look like the one shown on top, with just colors swapped in and out, or if there are any variants.

Women’s Basketball

wbb_comparison

This is a nice look that borrows heavily from the current uniforms, with — once again — the major differences being in the fonts. The shorts look nearly the same.

The LAX and volleyball uniforms shown up above are sharp, and so are the basketball uniforms. Let’s take a look at the men’s basketball uniform.

Men’s Basketball

mbb_comparison

Very nice. Just like with the women’s uniforms, the pants look nearly the same. When you look at the current men’s and women’s uniforms, and also look at LAX and volleyball above, you see one of the things the brand refresh addressed: all white uniforms now feature orange numbers outlined in maroon. Previously, the color of the numbers on the white uniforms varied; some were orange, some were maroon, and fonts were all over the place.

Now, the biggie.

Football

fb_comparison

Hmm. Not very different at all. (Stop me if you’ve heard this one…) The font is different. And the V-neck collar is wider. But other than that … (drumming fingers on table, looking around) …

The hokiesports.com branding page included just a few photos of most uniforms, but a bunch of photos of football uniforms. Here are most of them — click for a larger version where you can see more detail.

(all images from hokiesports.com)
(all images from hokiesports.com)

So how do we here at TSL feel about the “new” football uniforms? Well … we don’t speak for all Hokie fans, of course, but we’re not fans of the retro shoulder stripes. We were hoping those would go the way of the Dodo with the Nike brand refresh. But no luck … it appears we’re stuck with them.

Maybe it’s just maudlin sentimentality, and it might have something to do with the guy wearing the uni, but it’s hard to get better than this:

vt_fb_vick_uniform
Michael Vick … he flies through the air with the greatest of ease

The mid-2000s unis were almost as cool … ditch the overwrought piping on this uniform, and it would be perfect. (It’s worth noting that Xavier Adibi — man-crush alert!! — made EVERY uniform he wore look fantastic.)

This is what keeps The Terminator up at night: visions of Xavier Adibi.
This is what keeps The Terminator up at night: visions of Xavier Adibi.

For Virginia Tech sports as a whole, we think the uniforms got an upgrade. Nothing major, but a nice, as they say, refresh. The upgrade for basketball was slight, and football just stayed on the shoulder stripe treadmill, a feature we wish they’d retire.

It’s hard to really poll you on what you think, because the answers could vary widely depending upon the sport, but we’ll try a simple poll: what do you think of the brand refresh? Pick the answer that most closely represents your opinion.

What do you think of Virginia Tech's brand refresh, courtesy of Nike?

  • I love it (7%, 170 Votes)
  • I like it (31%, 731 Votes)
  • Meh. I'm neutral (45%, 1,040 Votes)
  • I don't like it (12%, 288 Votes)
  • The world would be a better place if it had never happened. (4%, 101 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,330

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63 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. so does this mean we are wearing the “flat chromed orange” helmet with maroon jerseys? kinda cool looking. just as long as we never wear those terrible hokie stone hats or the white hats again im fine.

    1. I don’t know … that may have been just for demonstration purposes. But I agree, that could look pretty sharp.

  2. Showing the football comparisons helped…while not gone, it looks like the shoulder stripes don’t go down as far in the front (and presumably in the back). Not gone, just smaller/shorter. I’ll wait to judge until I see them in person. While changes are limited for football, I do like the idea that there will be uniformity across all sports…

  3. Maybe it’s just me or my computer, but the maroon colors look more wine colored — more purpley and less maroony, to invent a couple of words.. Not a real fan of the font or the less maroon looking color.. hopefully it will look different in person

  4. I’m surprised the connected V&T logo is still intact. That is due for a makeover and logos often change when you have a new head coach.

  5. REGRESSION Nothing to like here, quite a disappointment from Nike. The worst thing they have done is the font – those broken letters are horrible, especially the H’s and E’s

    1. Did you read the article?

      “Nike, at no charge to us, they pick about four or five schools each year that are their schools, and they go in with what they call the Nike Graphic Identity Group — GIG.”

  6. Underwhelming…..
    Maroon colour appears more ‘purple’ in the pictures on my computer. Understand need for Nike to do something for VT, especially in line to how far our contract is from other schools, but believe this ‘refresh’ is minor at best. Would have preferred to lose the stripes all together and agree that fonts were getting out of hand w/ previous uniforms, the ‘refresh’ ones seems a bit simple maybe that ‘fresh’ look is the desired effect, but between the wrong colour and simple font, believe we received a second slap in the face from Nike, as to me, this was merely few hours of design layout on computer and no real feedback from the real customer’s of VT: Students, Players, Coaches, Administration AND the fans. All of which should have some say/input into this process.

    Let’s Go…Hokies!!!

    1. I could not agree more than what you have said!! Not much though, not much work, and not much effort on the part of Nike. The picture with Vick, like Will said , hard to beat those , and also the all maroon (Chicago) without the shoulder stripes. I would hope our AD would go back to Nike and ask politely that they try a little bit harder when trying to refresh, re-brand, etc.. Horrible effort by Nike

    2. The colors will continue to be the same as they have been. I think the colors are indicated in the Hokie Sports article.

  7. The shoulder stripes seem to go back to the sixties when Beamer played. They called it the UCLA stripe then. Kinda like the throwback element here

    1. Is that true? I remember hearing that Chicago maroon was on the purple side of maroon. With all the maroon variants out there, it’s hard to tell which is the right color. Maybe that’s it.

  8. I’m by no means upset about this “brand refresh” but you can color me underwhelmed. Make orange, and not maroon, the dominant number color? Why? Put the wordmark “HOKIES” in a Star Trek font? Why?

    Meh.

  9. Unless they’re just in the pictures for flare, looks like we’re going to keep some of our alternate helmets. The orange metallic and the Military Appreciation ones from last year. I’m a fan of that if we are. I also like the stripes on our maroon helmets.

    It also looks like we’re removing stripes from the pants. Thank God. I’ve always hated those. The striped white pants we wear on the road are awful, IMO. I hope those are gone for good. I don’t hate the shoulder stripes. I don’t love them but I don’t hate them either. The pants stripes were what I always couldn’t stand.

    I’m anxious to see these black and grey ones honoring our original colors.

  10. I vote meh. It doesn’t really matter so long as they win. I don’t really like the shoulder strips. I had not major issue with the pre-stripe uniforms. It seemed like the 2004 unis didn’t last nearly long enough, but I guess they wanted something better. The more all maroon combos we have, the better. I do like the metallic orange helmet.

    I think my favorite variant has been the Nike Pro Combat away unis we had back in I have no idea what season. They were all white with white helmets, and the jersey was sharp.

  11. I vote MEH but maybe this year a somewhat newer look for a new coach. We can always change again next year.

  12. Let’s just drop the orange all together and make gold our secondary color and we can be East Carolina.

    We can do that stupid “Purple!,….Gold!” chant and pee our pants every time we get a first down. Make Pirate jokes…what’s a Pirates favorite letter? Arrrrr.

    I’m an angry person.

  13. WHY ARE THEY FREAKIN PURPLE??? I don’t care what the graphics and fonts and everything else looks like…get our colors right. Chicago Maroon. Burnt Orange. Not plum purple and blaze orange. It’s honesty insulting our tradition, not maintaining it.

    1. It seems the Virginia Tech brand guide that was developed in 2015 points out that Chicago Maroon is Pantone PMS 208 and Burnt Orange is Pantone PMS 158 which the athletic dept uses. Don’t know how they came to selecting those but they sure don’t look like the Chicago maroon and Burnt Orange I recall were our colors.

  14. Mike Vick Uni’s and Adibi sans piping are best…that is all…what we got is not bad…but we can do better IMHO…

  15. HAAAAAATE the skinny numbers on the football jersey a la scUM and wVu. I like the big numbers on the jerseys best. Not a fan of the fonts on others either. Block letters look more VT to me.

  16. Great – not only did they not get rid of the fugly stripes on the shoulders, they added them to the helmet.
    VT paid zero and should still demand a refund

  17. So much a do about nothing. Put ten people in a room for design of uniforms and you get ten different versions.
    Nike has been good to TECH and let’s just say “thank you” for the uniformity.
    Ir is a class act.
    Tokie ’51

  18. As a whole, I like the brand refresh. That’s why I voted for “I like it”. It is good to have continuity for all of the programs. I like the modern font and it is good that they cleaned up the logo and colors to ensure that they are constant.

    I agree on the football uniforms (I think there should be a separate poll for football). I was really hoping that shoulder stripes would go away, but from what I have read on Twitter (Clark Ruhland), Beamer liked the shoulder stripes and these uniforms were ordered prior to Beamer’s retirement announcement.

    I think they could have removed the shoulder stripes to make it like the “Vick Jersey” and added a stripe (or stripes) like the women’s basketball jersey down the side. It would have given it a much more modern look.

    The helmets look cool. The orange metallic helmet with the solid white logo is sharp. I also like the stripes on the maroon helmet (although I prefer what they wore in last year’s UVA game more).

    The uniform for the UT game was not released. I believe Whit said they would have something different for that game (I’m guessing black and grey).

  19. What’s the point. There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the old and new. The only “major” change was from maroon numbers to orange numbers on almost all the unis. And the major chance that should have happened, dropping the stripes, didn’t happen.

    That’s why I voted for “Meh, I’m neutral”.

    However, a lot of money was spent for nothing. I would much perfer that money be added to the current “contract”. It’s a contract that way, way undervalued, that was negotiated by a athletic department running on autopilot, that was rudderless. We got taken. Whit was presented with a completed contract that really screwed VT.

    As soon as the results from the various Podunk Universities started being announced that were head and shoulders above what we were getting, Whit should have, and hopefully did, speak to and send a letter to top level Nike brass asking for a do over. If Nike refused, citing the desire to stick to the current signed legal contract, I would send Nike one last letter. I would let them know I’d remember this when this current contract was running out and would actively talk to other brands, in addition to talking to Nike.

    1. “Nike, at no charge to us, they pick about four or five schools each year that are their schools, and they go in with what they call the Nike Graphic Identity Group — GIG.”

      “…no charge…” Key. Pretty sure this didn’t cost us anything. It may not be what everyone was hoping for but it’s not like we backed a Brink’s truck up to Nike headquarters.

  20. Tired if the retro shoulder stripes and don’t like the stripes down the center of the helmet either.

  21. Love the modern font! I hate the stupid throwback stripes! They need to be thrown back to the garbage can…

  22. i hope we didn’t pay Nike a lot of – in fact, any money for this “extensive” refresh!
    we are so far behind other universities in what we receive from Nike because we sign long term contracts with them to supply us. other universities are smarter and either (a) sign shorter term contracts {allowing more frequent modifications/revenue adjustments} or (b) they have clauses built-in that allow them to get what they want sooner.
    Virginia Tech has to look in the mirror realize their “media attractiveness” and use it as a focal point to leverage better deals with Nike {give what we want for the price we want} or make it no secret that we are entertaining creative, desiring, pro-VT offers from major uniform and equipment suppliers who want to give VT more exposure. we are a very desirable commodity; and with the improvements on the basketball court, on the wrestling mat, on the club hockey ice, in President Sands-led academic growth initiatives, in projected enrollment, in pre-eminant hybrid degree offerings, in graduate programs, etc., etc., we and our value continues to improve at an almost geometric rate.
    we should get better deals and better uniforms.

  23. Gotta have those “fresh” and “clean” unis to pull in the recruits! lol

    In all seriousness, they’re not too bad. I still love the style from the early 2000s – my favorite being the all maroon like we wore against Miami in 2003.

  24. ok, but I prefer the clean look of Vick era. But please, can we get rid of those ratty looking gray unis in basketball?

  25. The poll options don’t have a “I dig it but SHOULDER STRIPES SUCK!!!!!!” Option, so I can’t vote.

  26. I don’t care about any of it except the color. Why can’t we stay with Chicago Maroon & Burnt Orange. These new uniforms look purple.

    1. I agree. Especially the football uniform. I’d like us to go back to all maroon for football.

    2. Agree. It appears the maroon has drifted towards purple the past few years. It also appears that orange is becoming the dominant color which is unfortunate as so many schools have orange in their color scheme.

  27. Far from a rebrand. Whoever was overseeing this at VT didn’t let Nike do anything, which is disappointing.

  28. teaysvalleyhokie, I agree with you on the shoulder stripes. They would look even better if they went under the armpit like they did back in the 60’s.

  29. Ho-hum, much ado about nothing in my opinion. And I will second the author’s view that the uniforms worn during the Vick years were the best looking.

  30. I like the shoulder stripes, and I sometimes think I am part of the minority. That said, I really did like the look around the Xavier Adibi era, I liked the piping. That was a good look.

    1. You’re not in the minority. I love the shoulder stripes. They make the VT colors pop. They look classy. The strips make the Football uniforms and players look like football players. The Article was written so you would feel like you were in the minority. The opinion was given that they hoped the uniforms would go away but we got stuck with them. If I wrote an article and said the Vick jersey looked like any maroon shirt you could pick up at a thrift store and just throw a number on it the people who hated the jersey would chat and others would feel like the minority and keep quiet. It’s called using the pulpit to get your way. People in the media do this over and over and over and over and over until they get what they want. Then start the same process all over again to create drama and sell their product. The media also has a low rating because of it. So it’s ok to like the Stripes.

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