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Blast from the past: BYU utilizing old-school Sailor Cougar logo, royal blue in athletic rebranding

PROVO — With the continous trend in college athletics to break out throwback gear, BYU hasn't missed out on the opportunity to take it to the next level.

When the idea to create a go-to secondary logo came along last year, BYU’s licensing and marketing teams decided to stick with tradition and add a modern twist to BYU’s beloved “Sailor Cougar” logo.

“We have the Stretch Y logo as the main logo, and we wanted to have a secondary logo that could incorporate a cougar somehow,” said Duff Tittle, BYU’s Associate Athletic Director over communications. “During the process of it, we all knew about this (Sailor Cougar) one and said, ‘What if we just cleaned that one up a little bit?’”

The idea took off for BYU, which has formally adopted the logo as its official sidekick to the Stretch Y. The emblem has already made appearances on the men’s basketball uniforms and shooting shirts.

In 1999, BYU introduced several new logos in an all-out rebranding. The addition of tan as a complement to the darker shade of blue was never really welcomed by fans, nor were the new logos — but once the Cougars officially ditched the old look, it left them desolate of an official secondary mark.

“The logos we had weren’t really resonating with the fans,” said Adam Parker, BYU’s Licensing and Trademark Manager. “We talked to a design firm about creating a new one, but then we realized, ‘Hey, we have one under our nose.’”

A clear-cut secondary logo hasn’t necessarily been essential for BYU's football program, as its uniforms' classic design doesn't need a logo aside from the Stretch Y. Now that an official secondary mark has emerged, though, the uniforms may be in for an update.

“I imagine that, at some point, it may appear (on the jerseys),” said Tittle. “Bronco (Mendenhall) is one of the ones that really liked it and brought it back, thus it was on the (special teams) flag several years ago. They’ve been using it on workout gear for quite a while.”

The whole throwback theme hasn’t been lost on just the logo, though. Bronco Mendenhall has made it an annual tradition to sport royal-blue throwbacks on the football field, and the basketball program has welcomed 1980s-era alternates to its wardrobe, beginning last season.

The hoops team has adopted royal as a permanent accent color on its road uniforms this year as well, in addition to the darker blue. Royal has quickly become a fan-favorite, though — and a permanent switch back to the lighter shade may not be out of question.

“It could happen. Never say never,” said Parker. “Through all the approvals and all the people we’d have to go through internally (to make it permanent), it would take a bit.”

“We’re having discussions on some of the color schemes right now,” added Tittle. “The university’s had a variety of shades of blue over the years. … As of right now, it’s strictly being used for specialty games.”

Nike has been known for throwing in its own shade of grey to uniforms and merchandise, Parker says. Although it is not an official university color, grey could show up as an accent color to the navy more frequently on apparel in the future.

Moving back to the traditional look — the throwback logo and royal blue — is an interesting idea from the marketing department. The jury is still out on whether the new logo will stick, but one thing is clear: the Stretch Y finally has a sidekick.

“We try to use the Stretch Y as much as possible,” said Tittle. “There have simply been too many logos, and we're trying to change that. … The new alternate logo will be our official secondary logo moving forward.”

Email:; Twitter: @sambbenson.