Brand image is a massive part of modern 21st century business and college footballis big business.
Signature uniforms like Clemson's alternate purples, picturesque campuses like Blacksburg, Va., or historic personalities like Bobby Bowden help separate one team from the next in the ACC with clarity. Fans identify with these brand images and it helps build value — or brand equity — for every program in the nation.
However, official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple.
Every college football program in the nation has an official logo — and some are better than others — and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.
And since Athlon Sports has been designing the best looking magazines on newsstands for the better part of half a century, we'd thought we'd turn our graphic design guru loose on college football's logos. Here is what Athlon Sports Art Director Matt Taliaferro has to say about the ACC's football logos:
“If the Big Ten is the gold standard for university logos and the Pac-12 is a strange amalgamation of classy and gaudy, the ACC sits somewhere (not surprisingly) in the middle.
Overall, its members subscribe to a more traditional design ethos (with one glaring exception!). Clemson, UNC, Miami, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Duke get high marks for being simple, yet creative; a combination that equates to being effective. Virginia Tech, NC State and Wake leave some intangible 'zing' on the table, yet their logos — for better or worse — have stood the test of time. Either that or university principles have failed to invest in an upgrade, take your pick.
Those yet to be mentioned are a mixed bag. FSU’s logo owes more to the school’s gridiron success than for being a standout in its own right; Pitt’s arched, blocked mark should work, but somehow comes across as clumsy and a bit sloppy; BC has gone contemporary, and that’s fine if that’s your thing (in this case, it’s not mine).
And then there’s Maryland … oh boy, I could write a thesis on what’s going on in College Park. Let me first say that what the Terps are doing with everything from logomarks to uniforms screams 'fun, fun, fun!' While many scoff at the radical look of the football unis, I give Under Armour a ton of credit for zigging while others zag, being innovative, and successfully tying it all together in an exciting presentation. Trust me, one day we’ll look at this as groundbreaking stuff in the sports realm. As for the logo, the new-school block “M” takes a traditional approach and adds a touch of today with a simple flick of the wrist. The total “Maryland package” is well conceived, well executed and — this being the end-game of UM’s madness — makes me want to tune in to see what happens next. Bravo.”
ACC Official Football Logo Rankings
There are tons of Tigers, Wildcats and Bulldogs in college sports but none use their mascot quite like Clemson. The Tiger Paw print is synonymous with Clemson athletics and is utterly simple but still edgy and creative.
The interlocked N-C are as famous as any brand logo in the nation. There are simple touches of style — the font and black trim — that make this logo completely unmistakable.
It's as simple as it gets but also brings loads of creativity and history. No other logo turns into a hand signal like "The U" and the two-tone color scheme and pattern is unique.
The traditional Seminole logo is as recognizable as any in college football. It is a busy look but the subtle "Florida State" isn't too obvious and the lines are very smooth. Frankly, the tradition/success of the football team makes the logo in this case.
Few teams have a logo that is simply the program's name. With drop shadows and arched font, the Panthers sport one of the cooler looks.
Virginia Tech has one of the best combination letter logos in the nation. It is hard to make it work but the simplicity and color pattern combines two letters that fit together nicely.
The Cavalier sabres crossed beneath the seraphed "V" is equal parts classic and creative. Few logos can combine these aspects of graphic design.
The Testudo logo is excellent and this "M" standing alone is unique and fairly good looking. But the added obsession with the state flag in Maryland drops this one down a peg or two.
The Ramblin Wreck's interlocking "G-T" is a historic look that isn't really good or bad. It's got some creativity but not too much.
The block "S" is a popular logo for many college football teams (Michigan State, Stanford) but NC State takes it a step further by adding the N-C. The black trim is a nice touch and the overall package has good symmetry.
The font is bizarre, that is for sure — and that is what keeps it from being one of the league's top logos. However, it is a signature logo that everyone knows all across the nation.
Once again, the block "S" is a classic look and feel and is difficult to screw up. Adding the arched team name above it, however, takes away from what could be a classic, simple logo.
The ACC seems to have more two-letter logos than any other league and Wake Forest is one of them. However, unlike Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech, Wake hasn't really found a creative way to connect its "W" and "F."
The cartoon eagle and italicized/overlapped BC just doesn't exude tradition and excellence like some other logos. The colors aren't bad but it's too busy to be considered a great logo.
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