Close menu Resources for... William & Mary
W&M menu close William & Mary

Evolution of Tribe pride: College unveils new logo

In what is more of an evolution than revolution of its trademark symbol, the College of William and Mary unveiled a new logo design Thursday that is intended to simplify and unify its visual image across campus.Evolution of W&M logos. Graphic by Cindy Baker.

The design—which features an updated approach to the College’s well-known W&M in four similar designs—will be incorporated as a core symbol of not only the athletics department but the campus community as a whole. The new design is also a return to the more traditional colors of green and gold—instead of the more recently used green and yellow.

“I’m grateful for the important work of our logo committee—recommending a new look and bringing a welcome consistency to those symbols used to represent the College,” said William and Mary President Gene R. Nichol. “The passing months have given us no greater esteem for the NCAA’s misguided decision to prohibit the feathers in our past logo. However, Sam Sadler and this impressive group of faculty, staff, alumni and students have advanced a design that will remind generations of William and Mary faithful of Tribe Pride. I’m pleased with the result.”

Following a ruling by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 2006 that deemed William and Mary’s athletic logo—which included two green and gold feathers—impermissibly “hostile and abusive,” the College announced it would begin the process of developing a new logo. President Nichol asked Sadler, vice president for student affairs, to chair the committee, which also included alumni, students, faculty, staff and members of the local community.

Work began last school year with phase one of the committee’s work—developing an updated logo. The second phase of the committee’s work will be exploring whether the College should adopt a mascot.
In developing the new design, the logo committee established a Web site and solicited feedback and suggestions from the College community in the spring semester, quickly learning that this assignment involved more than just selecting a new athletic logo. It was an opportunity to both modernize the current design and unify a growing number of symbols that unofficially represented the institution in recent years.

“When we started looking at this process, we realized that in addition to the athletic logo there are a total of 12 different marks registered as symbols representing the College,” Sadler said. “At times, it can be confusing so our goal was not only to comply with the NCAA ruling but pick a design that could bring consistency to the symbols that represent our historic College.”

After reviewing roughly 600 possible designs, Sadler said, the committee kept coming back to one design that was already in use—a “W” and “M” separated by the traditional ampersand—and explored improving and updating that mark. Once they had a good idea about the starting point of the updated design, the logo committee enlisted the expert knowledge of Phoenix Design Works, a New York-based company with extensive experience in designing logos for colleges and universities. They also received help from one of their own committee members. Connie Desaulniers, a member of the Class of 1975 and a noted Williamsburg artist, drew the distinct and smaller ampersand that is incorporated in the new design. The four designs all incorporate variations of the updated “W&M,” including one with offset letters inside a crest and another where WM (without an ampersand) is inside a circle with the surrounding script “The College of William and Mary * 1693.” Two other versions include W&M side-by-side and offset.

Don Rahtz, professor at the Mason School of Business at William and Mary and member of the logo committee, said the committee found a wide variety of logos and symbols in its assessment of the College's current letterheads and signage across the campus.

"Most universities, corporate, and public entities will use one or two main unifying identity symbols to represent themselves both internally and externally,” said Rahtz, an expert in marketing communications. “When we began our review of the logos and identity symbols in use at William and Mary, we were struck by how many were in use. Over the years, literally dozens had been developed and used across both academic and administrative units. We were all surprised to see how many variations of the William and Mary symbols were out there."

Rahtz added, “While the NCAA decision might have been the catalyst, the committee realized the importance of selecting a core design that would be able to provide a focal point for university communications, as well as offer some unity in regards to its internal and external identity.”

Implementation of the new design will take place over the next several months. For example, the College will immediately begin ordering athletic uniforms with the new logo and notify retailers and vendors. Some products with the new logo could be available by Charter Day while a larger rollout of William and Mary merchandise will occur over the spring and summer semesters. President Nichol has also charged Provost Geoff Feiss to appoint a campus committee of faculty and staff to address an internal implementation. This phasing in of the design over the next several months within offices, departments and schools across the campus on items such as business cards, stationary and publications. The College’s new redesigned Web page—expected to go public in the fall of 2008—is expected to feature the design.
William and Mary’s decision to change its logo is related to a review that began in 2004 by the National Collegiate Athletic Association of more than 30 universities’ use of mascots, nicknames, logos and imagery associated with Native Americans to determine whether they were “hostile and abusive.” In May 2006, the NCAA ruled that William and Mary’s “Tribe” nickname was neither hostile nor abusive but determined that the athletic logo—which contained two green and gold feathers—could create an environment that is offensive. William and Mary appealed that decision in June 2006 to the NCAA Executive Committee. That appeal was denied two months later.

“This was truly an inclusive process and each member of the committee—from the students to the administration to the alumni—took this responsibility very seriously,” said William and Mary Director of Athletics Terry Driscoll, who also served on the logo committee. “I look forward to seeing this design early and often in a packed Zable stadium and Kaplan Arena in the coming months.”

The committee will now turn its attention to the second part of their work, Sadler said, and will begin addressing the mascot question. That process will also involve members from across the campus community, he said.

In addition to Sadler, the logo committee included alumni Karen Cottrell (’66), who is executive director of the William and Mary Alumni Association, Connie Desaulniers (’75), Jim Kelly (’51), and Nancy Matthews (’76); faculty members Marlene Jack, professor of art history, and Don Rahtz, professor of the Mason School of Business; student representatives Kendra Boykin, graduate student at the School of Education, Tom Yake (’08), and Ryan Scofield (’07) and Kyra Kaylor (’07), who were both seniors last year; athletics department representatives Terry Driscoll, director of intercollegiate athletics and Peel Hawthorne (’80), coach of women’s field hockey; and administration representative Stewart Gamage (’72), vice president of public affairs.