NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A defining era of Vanderbilt Athletics continues to evolve as an identity refresh was rolled out Tuesday.
The identity refresh was designed to reflect the university’s forward momentum and to build pride and visibility across the institution, including its athletics programs. The new identity includes a clear articulation of who the university is today through both messaging and new wordmarks and logos.
“From my perspective, the timing is perfect in that it illustrates the ‘new era’ that we have spoken of often,” said Candice Lee, vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director. “It’s a new day, with new energy, alignment and momentum to match. It’s another example of Vandy United in action.”
Vanderbilt is committed to owning the “V” and color gold while unifying athletics and university marks.
Updates to the Vanderbilt identity come after extensive input from across the community, with more than 500 completed surveys, 70-plus one-on-one interviews and dozens of workshops and group engagement sessions conducted during the past two years. Vandy also received feedback from the Commodore Fan Council and the Black and Gold board of advisers in developing the new marks. A survey on the initiative was sent to university deans, select faculty, students and coaches, and feedback sessions for the proposed new marks included coaches and administrators.
The university worked with design studio Upstatement on the refresh, building upon a previous collaboration in relaunching the university’s new website in 2021.
Upstatement is considered an industry leader in brand and digital product design having extensive experience working with top-ranked schools including MIT, Harvard, Princeton and Yale, as well as major sports media companies from ESPN to the PGA Tour to inspire audiences and gain competitive advantage in their respective fields.
The university last updated its primary wordmarks and logos in 2003.
Identity Refresh FAQ
What is Vanderbilt’s identity?
Vanderbilt’s identity is how we tell our story. Our identity includes our core beliefs as well as language and visual components; these work together to create the distinctive look, voice and feel that people immediately identify with Vanderbilt. Our visual identity is the external expression of our core beliefs through official logos, wordmarks, colors, graphics, photos, videos and other media.
Why is the identity being updated?
Vanderbilt’s story is evolving. We’ve outgrown our “great regional university” identity to become one of the nation’s most elite private research institutions with a significant international presence. As a member of the Southeastern Conference, we are continuously in the spotlight and must distinguish ourselves among our peers. A bold, refreshed visual identity reflects the Vanderbilt of this moment, enhances the strength of our national and international reputations, and inspires our continued progress and growth.
When was the last update?
Most institutions regularly update their identity as their missions evolve and their needs and audiences change. Vanderbilt’s marks have similarly changed over time and are due for a refresh; the current main university wordmark (“V” with oak leaf and acorn) was adopted circa 2007, and the current athletics logo (the “Star V”) has been in use since 2000.
What is changing?
Vanderbilt has created a set of marks with a unified and complementary look and feel. The old wordmark (“V” with oak leaf and acorn), athletics logo (“Star V”) and university seal (featuring the Commodore’s profile) were adopted at different points in time and are unrelated in appearance.
For the new wordmark, the university commissioned a hand-drawn serifed font that is unique to Vanderbilt. The new athletics logos (“Block V” and updated “Star V”) echo the “V” from the wordmark, but with bolder lines and more versatility. The new seal is hand-drawn and features the “V” along with traditional elements—such as a star, oak laurels and outer perimeter resembling a compass—in nods to the university’s heritage. The seal also bears the university’s new motto: Crescere Aude, or “Dare to Grow.”
The new marks are V-forward, gold-forward and make better use of space and dimensionality in a way that allows Vanderbilt to “own” these symbols.
Is the “Star V” logo being retired?
Vanderbilt is elevating the new “Block V” as its primary athletics logo. An updated version of the “Star V” also will be available for use by teams and on merchandise.
What informed the new design?
Vanderbilt undertook a more than two-year process to gain a comprehensive understanding of the institutional and corporate identity landscape as well as the principles underpinning good design. The university consulted with internal and external designers and with Upstatement, the creative and digital product design studio that guided the FutureVU Digital website redesign project. Research was conducted on Vanderbilt’s historical identity and the university’s changing marks over time. The new visual identity was developed in response to significant input from university stakeholders, including 500+ survey responses, 40+ workshops and engagement sessions, and 70+ one-on-one interviews.
Why is Vanderbilt making this investment?
Vanderbilt’s identity is a powerful tool for telling the university’s story to inspire action in service of our mission. Clearly defining our identity—what we believe to be true about who we are and what we represent to our constituents—is essential to managing our reputation, or how others regard us. When identity and reputation are aligned, they drive talent, funding and influence. Therefore, our identity must be incorporated in everything we do, including the marks, symbols, colors and other visual representations of the university.
The new marks and logos will render extremely well on uniforms, merchandise, athletics facilities, campus buildings and signage, generating excitement among teams, alumni, the Vanderbilt fanbase and the university community.
When will athletics uniforms, playing fields and facilities reflect the new logo?
Given the long lead time required for athletic uniform design and production, uniforms featuring the new logos will debut in fall 2023. Athletics facilities and playing fields will be updated with the new marks over the next several years as is logistically feasible to do so.
When and where can I buy merchandise featuring the new logo?
A selection of items featuring the new marks will be available for purchase at the Vanderbilt Bookstore and online at vubookstore.com and shop.vucommodores.com beginning March 22. More products will be added throughout the summer and fall of 2022. We anticipate our complete collection of merchandise featuring the new marks and logos being available by fall 2023 at all retailers that carry Vanderbilt gear.
When will the university begin using the new marks?
The university is implementing a phased approach. In addition to the digital properties launching March 22, the new identity will be featured at Chancellor Diermeier’s investiture April 8–9 as well as in some capacity at select athletics events this spring.