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Herons and Statesmen Launch New Brand Enhancements

by Alex Kerai '19

The 2019-2020 athletic season kicked off with an evolved brand identity that honors the traditions of the Statesmen and Herons while looking toward the future. The designs offer a refreshed look for athletics while maintaining long-established iconography.

"We've held fast to the traditional colors and mascots of each school while elevating their appearance to better reflect the fiercely competitive nature of our athletic teams," says William Smith Athletics Director Deb Steward. "The new designs contemporize our programs."

The aesthetic of the new logos, with analogous shields and fonts, demonstrates the coordinate relationship of the Colleges while also echoing the Colleges' overall shield branding.

The Colleges partnered with athletics branding firm SME, Inc., whose clients include the New York Yankees, the Kentucky Derby, Washington & Jefferson College and more. The project was supported in part by the Heron Society and Statesmen Athletic Association (SAA).

SME hosted multiple focus groups with coaches, faculty, students, staff, the boards of directors of the SAA and the Heron Society, and alums. Feedback from these sessions determined the final designs: the recognizable mascots that have been associated with Hobart and William Smith Athletics for generations updated to reflect a more unified brand.

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"Everyone had a very strong opinion and we listened closely to every viewpoint," says Interim Director of Hobart Athletics Brian Miller. "A common denominator of all perspectives was pride in our history and a desire to remain committed to that."

Representatives of Hobart Athletics, William Smith Athletics, the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Marketing and Communications worked with SME to develop comprehensive style guides that govern the usage of the graphics.

The iconic symbols of the Hobart Statesman and the William Smith Heron originated in surprising ways. Until 1936, when a New York Times article noted Hobart's "statesman-like behavior at play, Hobart went without an official mascot or nickname although some sources claim they were called the "Deacons." The mascot "Bart the Statesman" was created in October 2004 based on a design by Adam Chaput '07, who wanted to bring more school spirit to games. William Smith Athletic teams adopted the Heron following a campus-wide contest in 1981. After a powerful and graceful great blue heron flew over field hockey practice, Mary Stowell Nelson '82 and Ginger Adams Simon '83 were inspired to submit the Heron nickname, which was ultimately chosen over 175 proposals.

The colors of purple, orange, green and white have been affiliated with Hobart and William Smith for more than a century: the inaugural William Smith class of 1912 chose the colors green and white, while The Herald notes the "orange and royal purple of Hobart" as far as back as the late 19th century.

With 23 varsity teams, the Statesmen and Herons have a tradition of excellence through performance in competition and scholarship. HWS teams have captured 113 conference championships since 1995 and 28 team and individual national championships since 1972. Approximately 25% of students participate in athletics at HWS at the varsity level.