Cal athletics unveils new brand in massive press conference

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Respect the past, represent the future. That was the theme of the Cal athletic department’s unveiling of the new Cal brand Wednesday afternoon.

At the Memorial Stadium Field Club, Athletics Director Sandy Barbour was joined by coaches and members of the media — as well as a few choice athlete-models — in a much-hyped press conference for the even more hyped reveal of Cal’s new look.

Much of the excitement revolved around the introduction of new football uniforms. Along with the recent hiring of head coach Sonny Dykes, new uniforms will go a long way toward creating a program radically different from that of the soured Jeff Tedford era.

But, as Barbour pointed out, the unveiling was “far bigger than new uniforms.” A new logo, new bear rendition and new font were also introduced to the public. The new look is, according to Barbour, a manifestation of Cal’s dedication to improving its reputation without sacrificing its tradition.

Wednesday marked the culmination of nearly two years of clandestine collaboration with Nike on revising and reimagining the Cal brand. Yet this begs a question that Barbour herself asked: “What is brand?”

For Barbour, brand is all about the way Cal is perceived around the world. That means retaining traditional elements of the Cal identity — such as the Cal script and the blue-and-gold color scheme — but streamlining Cal’s numerous logos and designs to create a universal identity.

“Brand is, in essence, a promise of what will be delivered and experienced,” Barbour said.

Nike’s Global VP and Design Director Todd Van Horne discussed in-depth the process the two institutions undertook to create Cal’s brand. It included researching public perception and opinion of Cal’s current identity, creating baseline standards for the use of Cal’s look and “bringing (the look) to life,” according to Van Horne.

Barbour was adamant that both the traditional Cal script and Oski will remain intact as the “cornerstones” of Cal’s identity. While blue and gold remain the primary uniform colors, gray was introduced as a secondary option along with white. The football uniforms also feature new matte helmets with a 3D bear logo at the front.

“It has a texture to it that sets it apart,” said linebacker Nick Forbes.

There is a new bear rendition to replace the cartoonish Oski. In addition, a new font will appear on all uniforms, as well as paraphernalia such as letterhead.

“The curves and angles invoke both a traditional yet modern feel,” Barbour said of the font.

She also acknowledged that the rebranding should influence recruitment. And while Barbour knows that traditional fans and alumni might take some time to acclimate themselves to the new look, she remains convinced that the change is good.

“We do not expect that any visual identity will be universally liked,” she said. “Our goal is to create something that is universally recognized.”

Jonathan Kuperberg used to cover football. Annie Gerlach might get the chance. Contact them at [email protected]