NEW ORLEANS, LA (SBC) – The Sun Belt Conference unveiled its new logo and brand today which comes after a nearly yearlong examination of the impact, sustainability and core values associated with the Sun Belt Conference.
"Together We Rise" is the new mantra for the conference and it is the foundation and essence of the contemporary logo that the league will begin using on July 1, 2013 - replacing the existing conference logo that has been in place since 1997.
Understanding market place competition and the need to standout from its competition, the Sun Belt Conference began examining and defining its brand identity and the need for a complimentary logo to embody that brand.
"The unveiling of our new logo comes after months of review of how we wanted to express the 'new' Sun Belt Conference," said Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson. "It is a very exciting chance for us to display the opportunity and optimism that exists in the Sun Belt Conference as we move forward."
The league office and its member institutions worked with SME, Inc. for the project. SME is a renowned strategic brand development firm which was responsible for the rebranding of the Pac-12 Conference and Big Sky Conference among other prominent collegiate and professional sports properties.
The overarching goal of the process was to create a bold and fresh new identity built upon a foundation of unity that corresponds to the Sun Belt Conference's future success and also honors the foundation built over the past 37 years.
"Like many conferences, the Sun Belt is undergoing change," said Benson. "We saw this as an opportunity to embrace this change. We are taking a new direction, one that is modern and progressive in its approach. Our conference can be as good as we want it to be and we will all 'rise together' in the upcoming years. Our new brand is a perfect reflection of that mindset."
"We wanted to be sure that the Sun Belt Conference brand was a compelling representation of the values and essence at its core," said SME Senior Partner Ed O'Hara. "'Together We Rise' became a driving vision for expressing member school's collective desire to achieve greatness while positioning the conference as a united force to be reckoned with on the national stage."
SME conducted a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative brand research project on behalf of the Sun Belt. The purpose of this research project was to present an evolved brand identity that helps point the brand forward into a new era of success and relevancy to stakeholders, uncover the unique and ownable assets of the Sun Belt that will enable it to stand apart, create a powerful set of unifying messages, and express brand findings in new and motivating ways, garnering higher esteem, awareness and prosperity for members. Key stakeholder participants included presidents, athletic directors, senior woman administrators, faculty athletic representatives, current students, student athletes, alumni and media.
"Great universities stir great emotions and the Sun Belt Conference is composed of great universities committed to moving our league forward," said Sun Belt Conference President and Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. "I am excited about the future for the Sun Belt Conference and this excitement is reflected in our new logo and brand campaign."
The Sun Belt Conference logo is a dynamic and exciting new expression of the brand, which upholds and forwards all the promise that the Sun Belt name suggests in both opportunity and aspiration.
The logo itself highlights the sun as a powerful and iconic expression for the conference that suggests unity, strength, promise and ambition. The individual parts of the icon combine to create a unified whole and represent strength in togetherness; a foundational value at the core of the Sun Belt Conference brand. The band of blue across the diameter of the icon symbolizes the "Sun Belt" region, while dually creating the feeling of a sun breaking the horizon at the dawn of a new day.
Sun Belt Conference institutions will also feel ownership in the logo, as it has been designed in all of the school's official colors. The new logo will appear on uniforms, fields and playing courts in each university's colors.
Research showed that the Sun Belt Conference brand essence centers around four key principles:
- AMBITIOUS - Our limitless ambition is captured by our essence, "Together We Rise," and fueled by a fearless passion for competition.
- AUTHENTIC - We are grounded in authenticity: real sports, real academics, real people, real fans, real hometowns.
- LOYAL - We unify the tight-knit communities of our member schools by fostering school pride and ownership over our shared success.
- ADVENTUROUS - Our adventurous spirit drives us forward in our endeavor to compete at the Bowl Championship Series and NCAA Division I stage.
About the Sun Belt Conference
Thirty-seven years after its founding, the Sun Belt Conference finds itself at the pinnacle of collegiate athletics as a member of the 10-league alliance of the Bowl Championship Series and soon to be College Football Playoff.
There is no question that the Sun Belt Conference is a league on the rise in football. After all, the conference finished with its most non-conference wins in league history in 2012 and also sent a record four teams to bowl games. The conference also finished the 2012 season with its best ever average computer ranking – finishing ahead of Conference USA and the Mountain West.
The Sun Belt had two wins over top-25 ranked opponents and Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State won their respective bowl games. All four Sun Belt Conference institutions that went to bowl games in 2012 return for the 2013 season.
The 2012-13 men's basketball season saw the league put together its best non-conference RPI in four years while sending two teams to the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. Notably, the Sun Belt's men's and women's basketball teams combined for a record tying seven postseason appearances this past season.
In other sports, the league is known for placing multiple teams in the NCAA baseball and softball tournaments year-after-year. Baseball and softball teams from the Sun Belt Conference are usually easy to spot in the national top 25 rankings.
The Sun Belt Conference will contest the 2013 football season with eight members – Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky University. UALR and UT Arlington compete as non-football members.