BOLD LOOK. SAME TRIBE. WILLIAM & MARY Athletics reveals A revitalized brand and logo


By Dave Fairbank

A chance encounter in an elevator last fall led to months of work and conversations throughout the William & Mary Athletics community. The result is a bold, refreshed brand that will capitalize on the university’s reputation and history.

Moving forward, William & Mary Athletics and its teams will feature a new logo that more closely aligns with the university’s brand.

“We believe that aligning ourselves more closely with the William & Mary brand provides us with greater bandwidth,” William & Mary Director of Athletics Samantha K. Huge said. “I am confident that great things lie ahead for William & Mary Athletics, and these changes will mutually benefit athletics and the entire university in the years to come."

W&M student-athletes - Alexis Brender a Brandis, Nathan Knight, Nyla Pollard and Lauren Kelly - model Under Armour apparel with the new athletics logo.

Athletics will have two primary logos, or marks. Both feature “W&M” and one incorporates the school’s mascot, the Griffin, into the design. Further, the Griffin graphics have been revised to have a bolder, more ferocious look.

“As a basketball coach, I’m really excited about it,” men’s basketball coach Tony Shaver said. “I think, in a nutshell, it’s going to help make our program and our university more easily recognizable across the country, and I think it’s going to help us take the next step, I really do. People in California or Wisconsin or Michigan may not know what Tribe is, but they know William & Mary.”

First-year women’s soccer coach Julie Shackford (W&M Class of 1988) said that the refreshed logos can provide a reset for her program and for athletics in general.

“I think any time you rebrand yourself, it’s a chance to get your name out there,” she said. “It’s a chance to start something new. When I’m recruiting, William & Mary needs to be a national brand. I think it’s a really good time for the university to step up with the new marks and just give us more of a national identity.”

Huge is quick to emphasize that the athletic teams will retain the nickname, Tribe. But in an increasingly crowded visual landscape, a simpler and more identifiable logo benefits both the school and athletics.

“Brand is essential in any organization,” Huge said. “We are very proud of the William & Mary brand, and our job is to promote and celebrate the brand more consistently and broadly.”

Only months on the job, Huge was riding in an elevator with football coach Jimmye Laycock last October in Chapel Hill, N.C., before the Tribe’s football game at Elon. A gentleman in the elevator asked Laycock about the word “Tribe” on his shirt. Laycock explained that it referred to William & Mary, and that the football team was in town to play a game.

The gentleman, a Midwesterner and Notre Dame fan, immediately recognized William & Mary. He was complimentary of the school and of Williamsburg, and he wished Laycock and Huge luck.

“By the time I got off the elevator,” Huge remembered, “I knew we had a branding issue.”

William & Mary Athletics has had many identities and visual representations through the years. Its teams were known as the Indians from the early 20th Century until the early 1980s, but were also called Big Green, Warriors, and Braves at times. Its logos included an Indian wielding a knife and tomahawk, a caricature Indian, various W&M symbols with and without feathers, and the current script Tribe. Among its mascots were an Indian pony, an alligator, students dressed in buckskin, a green-costumed character known as Col. Ebirt, and the current mascot, the Griffin – a mythical beast with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion.

W&M student-athletes - Sophie Kopec, Hunter Smith, Julian Ngoh and Nate Atkins - model apparel with the new athletics logo.

When Huge returned to campus, she made consistent, identifiable athletic branding a priority, which dovetailed with the thoughts of Justin Schoonmaker, creative director of William & Mary’s University Communications unit.

“I think what’s really important is that the William & Mary name is a 325-year-old brand, and it is the strongest name and the strongest identity that the university has,” Schoonmaker said. “To me, that’s the biggest win here. We give the university credit for what athletics is doing, and we lend the athletics program the strength of the university name. It’s a two-way win. The university gets more credit for what athletics accomplishes, and athletics gets to lean on the recognition and strength of the William & Mary brand.”

Schoonmaker, lead designer Melissa Payne, and their team spent hundreds of hours planning, sketching, revising and adapting various logos and marks. They received feedback from coaches, athletics staff, student-athletes, and university administrators over the course of several months before finally settling on the new logos.

For Schoonmaker, it was a passion project. He was valedictorian of the W&M Class of 2009, and cares deeply how his alma mater is represented now and into the future.

“I have a huge stake here, because I’m an alumnus and I work here. I care a lot about what happens with the athletics program and what happens with the university’s brand over the next 10 years,” he said. “I care that our messages get out there clearly. I care about people recognizing the excellence that’s here, and I care that our song gets sung and that we have a say in it, and it’s not just other people dictating what it sounds like.”

What They are saying about the new logo ...

Boldly Pursuing Excellence


William & Mary Athletics enhances the university and the Williamsburg community. We are committed to an outstanding intercollegiate athletics program by forging an environment that demands success with integrity; winning championships; empowering leaders; building a championship culture; elevating the prestige of the university and instilling pride and respect.

Athletics remains committed to the nickname Tribe. The Tribe is a significant part of the ethos and culture both on campus and in athletics. It stands for community and a group with common interests. The Tribe was first referenced at W&M to describe its athletics program in the 1920s and became the exclusive nickname in the early 1980s.

The Griffin, which was introduced as W&M’s mascot in 2010, is an important representation of the university. The mythological creature features the body of a lion representing the creation by royal charter in London and the head of an eagle, representing the instrumental role W&M played in the American Revolution.

Full and Simple Primary Marks:The simple primary mark harkens back to the university and athletics department’s most historically prevalent logo, the W&M. It is available with and without a stroke. The stroke option is recommended for use when the background is unknown or cannot be altered, as it provides background agnostic contrast.

The full and simple primary marks are the main athletics logos. The full primary mark includes the W&M featuring a fierce Griffin with the word Tribe. It draws from the pillars of Athletics, representing William & Mary with the W&M, the Griffin and the Tribe.

Griffin Illustration: The Griffin illustrations expand upon the original mascot by introducing new ferocity to the logo. The energized Griffin represents W&M’s aggressive pursuit of excellence in competition, the classroom and the community.

Uniform Word Mark: The William & Mary wordmark and Tribe wordmark are for uniform and team apparel use only. The William & Mary wordmark will primarily be used when William & Mary needs to be prominent, such as on away jerseys. The Tribe wordmark will primarily be used when Tribe needs to be prominent, such as on home jerseys.

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