May 18, 2006
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - In an effort to strengthen the department's image and energize one of the most recognizable brands in the collegiate world, MIT's Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (DAPER) unveiled its new visual identity during an extremely successful Visting Committee last week. On Thursday, the brand was unveiled to the student body as part of a promotional giveaway.
In 2001, the department successfully created the DAPER acronym. Through the current branding initiative, the athletic department hopes to achieve uniformity within its programs in terms of image, style, meaning and essence, while fostering campus pride and a competitive spirit that supports MIT's reputation as one of the nation's most expansive and unique athletic programs.
Partnering with the MIT Publishing Services Bureau, DAPER identified SME Branding of New York to lead the project. SME Branding is the nation's leader in developing athletic brands, and their work is internationally renowned on the intercollegiate, professional and corporate level.
"This is a new age for the sports programs at MIT," commented DAPER Department Head and Director of Athletics Candace Royer. "Students are more serious than ever about their quest for excellence in sport. We believe this is an important time to engage our students and community in a project that will produce an identity for athletics at MIT that is compatible with this drive for excellence."
DAPER hosted six different focus groups of varying sizes and reviewed over one hundred potential designs, while all of its constituents were able to be active in the process. The department consulted alums, parents, coaches, faculty and administrators. But most importantly, it was the student voice that drove the direction of the program.
"The marks that have been developed were with the input of many campus constituents," added Royer. "We are very pleased with the results from SME and, if our distribution of the mark to our students is any indication, we are pleased that we have created a lot of excitement about the brand! The new mark, bearing both the MIT mascot beaver along with the our traditional ligature identity "engineers," is symbolic of movement toward what is new about out programs yet rich in our athletic traditions."
During the Brand-On report, DAPER learned that nearly all of the participating students responded well to incorporating a beaver into the final solution. The beaver was adopted as the Institute's official mascot at the annual dinner of the Technology Club of New York on January 17, 1914. Just as critical, the study concluded that there was very little equity in the serif-font based collegiate T, which had been unofficially adopted near the turn of the 20th century as MIT sports teams were seeking a mark to differentiate itself from rival colleges. At the time, most intercollegiate programs used the classic collegiate font as its logo. The letter T was used at MIT because at the time of the mark's creation, the Institute was simply known as Technology.
SME's client list resembles a "Who's Who" in sports and the firm is widely considered the industry authority in sports branding. With over 2000 brand-building solutions to clients worldwide, the firm has developed an unparalleled understanding of how sports are consumed and how brand strategies and communications programs must be approached differently than with any other types of consumer brands. Clients include the U.S. Military Academy, University of North Carolina, University of Florida and Boston College on the collegiate front and the Boston Celtics, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Mariners and New Jersey Nets in the professional ranks.
SME CEO & Partner Fred Popp noted, "As a medallion institution on par with Oxford, Cambridge and the Sorbonne, MIT constantly challenges itself to advance the way things are done. As such, their approach to the re-branding of MIT Athletics has resulted in a dynamic new program that is a true representation of this esteemed institution, expressing it's never-ending pursuit of innovation and marks a new standard by which collegiate athletics are represented."