March Madness is here. It’s unpredictable, chaotic, captivating, exciting, and in one word: magical.
It’s amazing to watch a team from a school you’ve never heard of slay the NCAA basketball titans that everyone is so sure are unbeatable. Each year these small schools get a chance to step into the spotlight and take on a juggernaut. The University of Arkansas-Little Rock was the first truly unknown school this year to pull off such a shocker. The 12th seeded team from Little Rock defeated the 5th seeded Purdue Boilermakers in double-over time on a buzzer-beater shot.
Win or lose, the chance to play on such a big stage is a chance for any school to put its name in the headlines. Nobody had heard of Stephen Curry until he lead Davidson deep into the tournament bracket several years ago.
To assess how well each school was taking advantage of this opportunity for major publicity, we surveyed a group of graphic designers and branding experts. We asked them to rate their favorite and least favorite logos from each of the schools in the round of 64 of the 2016 NCAA March Madness tournament. Here is what they had to say:
This icon clearly depicts it’s subject material without being over-designed. Anyone who spends time in the world of college sports will recognize this as Michigan State.
By using the moniker “The Fighting Irish”, Notre Dame presented a real challenge to the designer of this iconic character. This is one of the most unique and memorable logos in all of sports, love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to admit Notre Dame has an awesomely unique logo.
University of Oregon
Oregon tends to be pretty flashy in everything they do in sports, so to see a change of direction in their logo is great. It’s clean and simple, unlike most school logos. The Oregon “O” is iconic, and even though it is just one letter, everyone who sees it knows that it belongs to the University of Oregon. It’s an interesting font choice. The “O” seems to fit more with a serif font than san serif, but for a school logo, it’s pretty good.
Blue and Yellow can be pretty difficult colors to incorporate successfully, but The University of California has done a great job using contrasting color shades and outlines to create this smooth and classy logo.
Now let’s examine which schools might have been better off not using a logo at all…
The Worst Logos
Your school is located in a mountainous area, we get it. But UNC Asheville could learn a lesson from Oregon and Cal by going for a simpler, easier to read logo that doesn’t scream “we had a low budget making this thing…”.
University of Arkansas-Little Rock
Speaking of low budgets…in all seriousness, this logo looks like a 5th-grade student made it in Microsoft Word. I’m not sure what messaging they were trying to communicate with this logo, but it’s clear that UALR is not a school for art or design.
Here we have the school mascot as Pegasus sneezing a lightning bolt. That’s probably not what Middle Tennessee was going for, but it’s all you can see now that I mentioned it, right? Hopefully, they do well enough in the tournament to get some exposure and fund a new logo
Ok Maryland, its time to open your ears and realize everyone is laughing at you. Nobody is intimidated by a Turtle. Especially not a turtle that looks like it is about to go streaking across the court.