April 1, 1997
In 1945, there was the Greenie, an elfish little character in a green jersey and white helmet. In 1965, there was an angry figure of a "green wave" holding a pennant. Today, when the athletic department needs a symbol to print on T-shirts and caps, what does it use? Well, there's the stylized word "Tulane."
And there is a "T" with blue and white waves through it. But don't look for a spirited figure or other personification. There simply isn't a current one in use by athletics. That could be changing this fall as a university committee works with a New York-based sports design firm to come up with an additional "action mark"--and possibly a new mascot--to enhance the recognition and identity of the university and its athletic teams. Several items, however, will not be changing: the nickname "Green Wave," which dates back to 1920s newspaper stories; the green and blue colors; the stylized look of the name Tulane; and the 1986-vintage "T" with waves through it.
The newest design effort will add another dimension to those identities, said Vince Granito, assistant chair of the committee and assistant athletic director. The 10-person committee, led by Debbie Grant, public relations director, hopes the new logo effort will help build additional fan support as well as revenue for the university.
"We're behind in having marks or logos that are appealing," Granito said. "Hopefully that void will be filled by a new design that will fit the university well. We have as much spirit and pride in our school as everybody else; we've just been under-represented in the market." For Granito, "the market" means sporting goods and other stores across the nation that sell merchandise carrying the logos of college and professional athletic teams.
The official words and symbols representing Tulane are trademarked and licensed, so that anyone wanting to produce those symbols on merchandise must pay a fee. Tulane is one of some 200 colleges and universities whose trademarks are licensed with the Collegiate Licensing Co., a service that collects royalties on behalf of Tulane from manufacturers and promotes the Tulane logo on merchandise, said Granito, who is Tulane's liaison with Collegiate Licensing.
In the early 1990s, interest in Tulane gear increased because of national exposure for the men's basketball team, Granito said. But in airport gift shops and mall outlets in major cities outside New Orleans and Louisiana, the teams whose logos are often sported on T-shirts and caps are the University of North Carolina, Michigan, Duke and Florida State. Why? "Two reasons," Granito said. "Athletic success over a period of time, and logos and colors that are popular. That's the game."
To get in on the game and get Tulane's name on shirts and into more stores, the university's symbols have to be more marketable. The symbols such as Tulane's "T" with waves has "no animation, no feeling or spirit," he added. "That's the void we're trying to fill."
Leading the design effort will be SME Design of New York, a leader in sports identity marketing and communication that has produced designs for such professional teams as the Toronto Raptors, Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Mariners, and college teams such as the Villanova Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers, Iowa State Cyclones and University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers.
The committee hopes to unveil Tulane's new design in August, after review by the appropriate university constituencies. Among the tasks immediately at hand, however, is gathering campus opinions about the project. Committee members hope faculty and staff members will fill out and return the questionnaire on page 2 of this issue.
Josie Lewis, student body president and committee member, said she has had a variety of reactions about the project from students she has queried. She hopes when the new logo is chosen, "the entire Tulane community can stand behind it and it will be a new rallying sign for us." Joey Harris, Tulane College sophomore and president of the spirit organization TsUnami, said, "I like what we have but I'm certainly open to something active and exciting. It would be a wonderful addition. I want to see how the rest of the student body feels."
Tulane's current costumed mascot, unofficially called Gumby by the student body, needs a facelift, Granito said; the costume is in dire need of replacement. "The physical costume must be replaced with something else, possibly based on whatever logo we choose," he added. "A new mascot may indeed come out of this."
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