The University of Nevada, Reno’s logos are found everywhere in the city. Wal-Mart plasters the logo on their in-store ads. Local restaurants pin it to their walls with memorabilia. You can even spot it on a billboard for Bud Light. But with court cases, incorrect usage and athletic copyright, logo use for students participating in intramural sports on campus is becoming increasingly difficult. I say cut the students a little more slack! With all the oversight and constant monitoring that the NCAA and university athletics have over campuses, access to a school’s brand and identity is too limited for the student body. Permission to spread the school’s brand should be granted to every single student who pays tuition. Without this student body, there is no Wolf Pack.
Intramural athletics is a university-run recreation activity that allows all students a chance to play organized sports on campus. Hundreds of students engage in these organized leagues, but despite the high volume and popularity of these activities, the use of certain university logos for team branding is nearly impossible.
UNR has three main logos: Sports Wolf, Block “N” and the Top Hat Wolf. All of these popular images are used by the school to brand itself to the public.
According to UNR’s Marketing and Communications Department, the UNR athletic logo ranks 60th of all American universities in sports logo attire sales. David Branby, UNR’s creative director, points to this statistic as a lead reason why it is important for the school to protect their brand.
Branby looks over more than 1,000 each year.
“We want to be strict about our image, because we don’t want courts to think we don’t care about our brand,” Branby said.
These are the types of troubles that intramural athletes run into commonly when seeking permission for logo use. Branby is sent proposed logos that the students want to put on their intramural shirts or jerseys, but alterations are made to the original image that cause Branby to turn down certain ideas.
“Please step away from the logo,” Branby says, is a common phrase thrown around in the marketing department. “I try not to come down too hard on students or intramural athletes with their proposed logos, just as long as they leave the ‘N’ in the white box and don’t change this,” he said.
Intramural sports is prohibited from using the official Sport Wolf logo that is owned by athletics.
Branby says the brand of the school is valuable because of possible legal risks.
The athletic department’s brand compliance page lays out the purpose for strict permission.
“We come from different colleges, programs, backgrounds and disciplines, but together we are the University of Nevada, Reno,” it states. “When any one of us goes out into the world, we represent not just ourselves but also the University as a whole. This is why we maintain marketing standards and policies. When we work together, we succeed together.”
But, maybe we should be working together in other ways, such as moving toward making logos more accessible for students to use.
UNR has almost 21,000 undergraduate students according to the school’s most recent enrollment counts, so the need to monitor logo usage can be considered a difficult task.
According to UNR’s official budget report, over $4.8 million is allocated to the athletic department from the state which could add pressure on athletics to monitor the image of the Sport Wolf and other athletic logos more closely.
UNR requires 15 percent of total revenue made on apparel featuring the school’s Sport Wolf to be given back to the university according to Branby. “The money can always play a role in why we are careful with our image,” he said.
The challenge to grant intramurals and other student engagement groups access to official athletic logos continues. When asked about creating a universal logo for all to use, Branby joked, “They can do it in ‘Harry Potter’, so why can’t we do it here?”
University officials should really consider more liberal permission granting of UNR logo usage. After all, we are one Pack right?
Sam Burkett studies journalism. He can be reached on Twitter @TheSagebrush.