Athletic Identity Makeover: The Cougars of Saint Xavier University
This one’s for you, athletic departments! In our Athletic Identity Makeover series, take a look at some work we’ve completed for various colleges and universities over the years.
You’ll see that, to us, an athletic identity is about much more than just a look. It’s about demeanor. Pride. And courage.
First up: The Cougars of Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois.
The Cougars had a problem. CCA had just led Saint Xavier University in an institutional rebranding campaign, and the existing athletic identity just wasn’t pulling its weight (image below).
As one student-athlete put it, “When you’re an athlete, you want to be proud of the logo on your jersey. Our mascot though—he just looks scared. We work hard and we’ve got a good team, and we want something that will intimidate our opponents. We want something that says we mean business. Right now though — we’ve just got a scaredy-cat.”
Our challenge was two-fold. First, we had to completely rethink the SXU athletic identity and produce a mark that could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the University’s new institutional branding. Secondly (and just as importantly) we needed to produce a mark that their athletes, students, alumni, and fans could wear with pride.
The cat needed an attitude adjustment. While the rendering of SXU’s cougar was fine, it just didn’t have the right emotional or strategic impact. In short, it was a competent execution of a flawed concept.
We began by redrawing the cougar in a bolder, more graphic style. Instead of looking to the side, we turned his gaze directly towards the viewer, allowing him to lock eyes with the opponent. We turned what was essentially a defensive posture into one of pride, strength, and ferocity.
Next, we ensured that the mark felt like part of the larger SXU identity by drawing color palettes and line usage from the recently updated institutional mark. Finally, we created a custom font for the Cougars wordmark and integrated the institutional X (now a vital component of the University brand) into the athletic brand as a supporting graphic element.
The new Cougar was released with great fanfare and has been enthusiastically embraced by the Saint Xavier community.
As the SXU Athletic Director said, “I don’t think you ever win or lose a game because of your logo, but it’s still a part of your identity. Our old logo looked like a puppy dog because of its floppy ears. This new one though—it’s more fierce, more competitive.
It shows people that our teams are here to compete and here to win.” However, it’s a student-athlete who most accurately summed up our success:
“No one’s messing with that cat.”