Eighteen months ago, the aesthetic revolution began, when North Carolina and Nike met to discuss changes to UNC’s athletic identity.
UNC Athletics unveiled the changes at the Rammy Awards in Carmichael Arena on Monday night: a unified design for all 28 varsity sports, including increased use of argyle; consistent fonts, logos and colors; and a slightly refined interlocking ‘NC.’
The process, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said, was a complimentary part of UNC’s contract with athletic apparel giant Nike and included meetings with and feedback from North Carolina student-athletes and coaches.
“The main goal was to build on our tradition and then come up with something that is exciting for recruits and current student-athletes and then gain some consistency across all of our sports,” Cunningham said.
North Carolina’s most identifiable branding asset is the school’s Carolina Blue and white. The colors were first adopted in 1795, when the Dialectic (blue) and Philanthropichite) Societies decided on their respective colors. In the 1890s, when football gained traction at the University, the team implemented the debate team’s colors, and blue and white became the official shades of the Tar Heels. (wsity-colors/ // 1795: http://diphi.web.unc.edu
Currently, there is some variation in color and logo used across sports. Following the rebranding, both will be consistent across the board.
“It shows that we’re one,” said redshirt senior sprinter Devon Carter, who was one of the student representatives during the uniform evolution. “It shows that we’re an actual university that’s close-knit. We all support each other. We’re here for each other. So it’s great to have a concise theme.”
Perhaps the most iconic identifier of North Carolina athletics other than Carolina Blue is the interlocking NC. The logo, which dates back to the 1800s, has appeared in slightly varied forms throughout different UNC uniforms.
Nike and UNC made subtle refinements to the logo in order to balance it in size, scale and shape.
“We really like what Nike did to streamline our NC and make it mathematically correct — it has the same dimensions each way,” women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Levy said. “Just streamlining the things that we feel are very classic to Carolina was a no-brainer.”
Alexander Julian, who designed the argyle that the basketball team adopted in 1991, said it was “a dream come true” for him when Nike and UNC decided to apply argyle to other sports, an addition he had been trying to make for years.
“Coach Smith liked it, Michael Jordan loved it, and that became a revolutionary idea for a basketball uniform,” Julian said, his tie tucked into his shirt.
That revolution, now, has spread.
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