New Athletics Visual Identity Is Modern Update to an Iconic Classic

Students modeling gear at Bigelow Bash

The royal blue and gold Pitt script made its official comeback when the University’s athletic department unveiled a new visual identity at Bigelow Bash on Sunday, April 7.

New colors, secondary logos, typeface and fonts debuted in front of a crowd of about 3,000 at the student and fan-friendly food truck and music festival presented by the Pitt Program Council.

“Our branding will pay homage to a proud past but with 21st century ambitions. It evokes our legends while anticipating future greatness,” said Director of Athletics Heather Lyke. “There is power in the Pitt brand and these colors and marks will maximize that strength for Panthers past, present and future."

In addition to reinterpreting the blue and gold color palette — which includes updated primary and secondary colors — and solidifying the famous script Pitt as the official identity of Pitt athletics, the panther head logo underwent a fierce, modern makeover and the Cathedral of Learning served as inspiration for the entire graphic package.

The reveal was the culmination of a two-year collaboration with Nike Global Identity Group (GIG) to rebrand Pitt Athletics. Every year, Nike selects four schools to work with through the GIG process. As Lyke explained, this collaboration enabled Pitt athletics to examine what the athletic brand and the colors should stand for.

Nike's mantra for this process was to respect the past and represent the future, said Lori Burens, director of licensing and merchandising at Pitt. The goal for the new identity was to create unity and consistency across all of the University’s athletic teams. The new blue and gold colors are a reinterpretation of the color palette reminiscent of past success but with a contemporary feel.  

The mark that will stand out the most is the new panther head, said Sean Butterly, art director for Nike GIG. “It was inspired directly from the panther head in the fountain at the front of the Cathedral of Learning, but also is an amalgamation of all the panther statues around campus.”

Current and former student-athletes modeled 2019-20 season uniforms and select apparel on stage in a fashion show-style introduction of Pitt's updated uniforms for its 18 athletic programs.

“We can’t wait for our fans to see the new look for Pitt athletics, to see the new uniforms and all the apparel,” Lyke said in a video about the GIG process. “This is just the beginning — there will be more to come.”

Where to get the latest gear 

Heather LykePitt fans now have access to exclusive Pitt apparel and merchandise at a new on-campus Nike concept shop.

The Nike Store at The Pitt Shop, located inside the University-owned spirit store on Forbes Avenue, officially opened Sunday. It showcases the all-new Nike products featuring the updated marks and visual identity. 

“Pitt people are passionate about their university and love showing their pride in numerous ways, especially by wearing Panthers gear and merchandise," said Lyke. "Nike and the University have been terrific partners in planning this new store at The Pitt Shop and we are thrilled to have our sideline provider represented so prominently on campus.”

University marks and colors

Coinciding with the unveiling of new marks and colors for Pitt Athletics, the University is continuing progress in a branding initiative which includes visual identity for the entire University. Currently in the discovery phase, the Office of University Communications has convened a University-wide committee to review the University’s overall marks and colors. The committee is researching best practices and gathering input from campus stakeholders. Faculty, staff, students and alumni will be invited to share their opinion in a survey coming soon.

“This summer, we will share clear standards on University marks and colors as well as a brand strategy that will guide our communications moving forward,” said Kate Ledger, assistant vice chancellor for marketing.