The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, in partnership with Nike, today introduces a new brand and identity system that sets the visual direction for Fighting Illini Athletics for years to come. The updated identity provides a fresh look at one of the most storied brands in all of intercollegiate athletics.
Illinois and Nike collaborated on a nearly two-year brand evolution program to enhance and expand upon the celebrated marks of the University, honoring the history and integrity of academics and athletics — key characteristics associated with the Illinois brand. With the goal of developing an innovative and consistent athletic identity that pays tribute to the university’s legacy and tradition, Illinois and Nike worked with student-athletes, coaches, administrators and alumni throughout the process. The end result is a visual hierarchy that plays off the brand attributes of the Fighting Illini. As part of the new program, all 19 of Illinois’ intercollegiate sports teams will showcase consistent colors, logos, lettering and numerals that will debut with the football and basketball programs and gradually expand across all sports in the upcoming seasons.
“When we first approached Nike regarding this project almost two years ago, we knew we would get the finest effort from the very best group for what we were trying to accomplish in freshening the Fighting Illini brand identity,” said University of Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas. “We are extremely pleased with the results that the Nike team produced. They worked very closely with our student-athletes and coaches throughout the process to get the perspective of young men and women, along with our coaches who are recruiting young men and women to attend the University of Illinois. The end result is a consistent look for all of our programs that helps tie in the long history of the Block I, with a modern touch.”
The “I” logo will remain the primary representation of the brand and serve as the main identifying device for athletics. The overall proportions of the letterform have been refined from the previous version, with a decreased weight of the body (vertical) stroke and increased weight of the cross (horizontal) strokes. The connections between the strokes have evolved to tie in with the custom alphabet and numeral set, which features subtly curved joints. In addition to the updated “I” and a custom alphabet, “Illinois” and “Fighting Illini” logotypes have been created for use across all sports teams. The oblique letterforms are inspired by the speed and elusive lateral movements synonymous with Red Grange, one of the most celebrated student-athletes in Illinois Athletics history. The split color design nods to the concept of duality in the school’s motto, “Learning and Labor,” and represents the state of Illinois as a crossroads between East and West. The primary logo and typography now work in support of one another while playing off the University of Illinois Athletics attributes of Tradition, Pride, Loyalty, Family, Honor and Passion.
Continuing with the themes of duality and symbolism, the powerful storytelling elements of Memorial Stadium and the great mystique of Red Grange were combined to create an aggressive, contemporary look of speed in the new Victory Badge. Inspired by superheroes, the primary “I” logo is at the center of the badge, encased by two facing Fs that symbolize the fight that the Illini encounter when they take the field of play. The Victory Badge is grounded by vertical stripes that reference the columns at Memorial Stadium, and ends in a powerful V shape representing victory. While the logo’s inspiration is derived from the school’s rich football tradition, it will be used by all of the university’s athletic teams. Through the development of this secondary logo, the University of Illinois adds a modern element to complement the classic look of the primary mark.
Color has also played an important role at the University throughout the years and is quintessential to Illinois Athletics. The current scheme of Navy and Orange was made official on Nov. 6, 1894, with the endorsement of students and faculty. While the primary colors will be maintained, a secondary palette of White, Dark Steel Grey and Metallic Silver has been added to provide depth and flexibility to the brand as a whole.
“Nike has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the University of Illinois Athletics and it was an incredible journey unveiling some of the university’s unique history,” said Todd Van Horne, Vice President and Creative Director for Nike Football and Baseball. “The new enhancements celebrate the University’s past and are designed to evolve far into the future.”
Fans can log onto the online store at FightingIllini.com or Nike.com for immediate purchases or pre-sale ordering. Most retail outlets that sell University of Illinois merchandise will have products with the new branding by the end of April, including Champaign-Urbana retailers Gameday Spirit Fan Store and T.I.S. Bookstore.