My Alma mater, Long Beach State (CSULB), just refreshed the visual identity of Long Beach State Athletics! Obviously as a graphic designer and as someone who was extremely fortunate to have played volleyball for Long Beach… I think this is awesome news. :) Check out this article on LongBeachState.com to see the before and afters, and read about the whole process of refreshing its identity. It’s super interesting.

Rebrands are always easier said than done because it can be so hard to please so many people who are fans of the “old” ways. And let’s be honest: we’re all uncomfortable with change to a certain point. But larger than that is the challenge of bringing such an iconic, deeply-traditional brand up to speed WHILE finding a way to unify so many moving parts of it. And Long Beach State Athletics had/has a LOT of moving parts, each with their own sort of micro-brand:

  • You have LB, the primary logo/identifier for all of Long Beach State Athletics.
  • You have The Beach. Go-ooooooooo BEACH!
  • You have Long Beach State. Long – Beach – STATE!
  • You have the 49ers and 49er Prospector Pete as long-time, traditional mascots.
  • You have The 49er Athletic Club, the primary booster organization that helps drive funding for scholarships and the programs.
  • Then you have The Dirtbags, a long-time nickname for just the baseball team.

You have all of these awesome components of Long Beach State Athletics, each representing pride in their programs, just in their own ways. Not to forget, you have all of these icons, all of these names, and all these visuals under the CSULB brand itself.

It’s funny, even as a LBSU volleyball player, in talking with people I’d say, “I play for Long Beach State.” Then I’d immediately think of myself as a 49er. I still do. :) Then, I never mentioned Prospector Pete but I often thought of playing in the pyramid and of seeing him at our games (what would a home game be without Pete??). Then more often than not, I’d drop in a “Go Beach!”. I still say that now when I hear Jered Weaver (former Dirtbag) is pitching, or any time I hear an alum doing something good. So my thought process was always something like, Long Beach State…49ers…Prospector Pete…The Beach…Go Beach.

The point is, I was an athlete at LBSU myself and I realized, even I had a pretty fragmented vision of our brand. Each time I said, “I play for Long Beach State” my own attention was divided between each of those identifiers. So I can’t imagine how much (or little) would stick for someone who wasn’t as familiar with Long Beach State Athletics, which is why this refresh makes all the sense in the world to me! It’s awesome to see it.

Sarah Hudson Weeger, Long Beach State Women's Volleyball, 2007

Sarah (Hudson) Weeger, 2007

I’ve seen a lot of criticisms over the new designs though, and I have to say: Having to meet all those challenges – update a large-scale, longstanding brand, unify a ton of moving parts, and stay true to deep traditions at the same time – that is not an easy task. For anyone. The designers and the Athletics Department definitely had a challenge, to say the least, I’m sure with some tough decisions to make. And I think they did an AMAZING job coming up with the refreshed identity. I think this especially was a great decision:

The refreshed visual identity will provide an increased focus on the athletic programs of the only four-year university in the city of Long Beach, as well as a concentration on the moniker, “The Beach.” The team nickname for all sports except baseball will remain the 49ers, as it has been since the university’s founding in 1949.

What a great solution. Build on the common thread, focus on what makes LB unique… I love it.

Of course I’m biased and love everything LBSU….. but still. :) Way to go, everyone. And good luck with the next phase of rolling out the new identity all across campus, materials, uniforms, media, and so on. No doubt that will be a solid challenge as well, but will bring even more pride in Long Beach State Athletics in the end, with time.

To see more of the new designs, check out the article linked at the top and/or download the Long Beach State Visual Identity & Branding Guide.

GO BEACH!!!