Creighton fan Tom Kjar admits it wasn't love at first sight when he got a mid-afternoon sneak peek Wednesday at the Bluejays' new athletic department logo.
“He's old school,” son Blake said.
But by the time Creighton officials formally unveiled the new logo at a public ceremony Wednesday night at the CenturyLink Center, Tom Kjar had warmed to the new look.
“It's very distinctive,” he said. “It's an angrier bird. I like it.”
So does his son.
“The angrier bird is cool, and I like how they have the 'C' in there,” Blake said. “I think they did a good job.”
The public reaction at the official unveiling of the new-look Bluejay on the arena's center court seemed generally favorable among the 3,000 people in attendance. So did the initial response on one of Creighton's unofficial message boards on the Internet.
“My hope is that people will love it,” said the Rev. Timothy Lannon, Creighton's president. “If they don't, we'll hear about it.”
The new center-court logo features a multicolored Bluejay, with a huge letter C in the background. Sport-specific logos also were unveiled on the arena's new video board that featured a Bluejay's head on top of the word Creighton, with the name of the specific sport underneath.
The new logos are part of a university-wide rebranding that the school decided to embark on after Creighton became a member of the new Big East in mid-March.
“The transition to the Big East provided us with an opportunity to make this change,” Lannon said.
Other changes in the university's logos could be unveiled in the future.
“We're still in the planning process on that,” he said.
Mongoose Graphics of Denver, Colo., designed the new logos.
“We engaged a few different design firms,” said Mark Burgers, a Creighton associate athletic director. “It was exciting to see the different looks that people gave us. It was all the way across the board, from being very historical to very futuristic. We felt like this one was a good balance of both.”
Burgers said the rebranding committee, which was made up of people from all factions of the university, felt incorporating the letter “C” into the main logo was important.
“If you look at other Big East schools, Villanova has the 'V' and Xavier as the 'X' for its logo,” Burgers said. “We also liked the look of the Bluejay — clean and professional.
“If you look at the statue outside of Morrison Stadium of our traditional mascot, and if you look at the profile, it's not much different than the one we selected in the end. It kind of ties us back to our roots while having a new look in moving forward.”
Lannon said about 100 to 120 people were involved in the process of selecting the new logos. In the end, the rebranding committee brought him the final design for approval.
“I loved it,” he said. “It just strikes me as so action driven, and it's determined, bold and assertive.”
That was one of the goals brothers Craig and Cory Whitlock of Mongoose Graphics had when they set about to design the new logo.
“We started out with the real layout of the bird,” Craig Whitlock said. “Then we tried to combine that with the features of Creighton athletes — aggression, determination, energy. There's a few ways we can do that.
“We can put that look in the eye to try to add a little bit of determination. The blue jay happens to raise its tuft when it's aggressive, so we have the tuft raised. In the end, though, we had to do what we could to make it look sharp as a logo and still make it look like a blue jay.”
Asked what goes into the making a successful logo, Whitlock replied, “Our heart and soul. You wouldn't believe all the work that goes into a tiny little bird, to get it to look real and also be effective as a logo.”
That work will end up benefiting Creighton students in the future. Burgers said the Whitlocks decided to donate their fees for the project back to the school's Billy Bluejay scholarship fund.
Speaking of Billy — Creighton's longtime mascot — he was nowhere to be found at Wednesday's unveiling. But contrary to speculation that arose in recent months, he is not being phased out in the rebranding process.
A video was shown before the unveiling that informed the crowd that Billy has been trying to “get into shape” for the move to the new conference.
“Billy is in production-slash-working-out mode,” said Burgers with a smile. “We hope to see him in a few weeks from now. He'll be here for the basketball season but probably not for the first game.”
After the unveiling, the Creighton men's team ran through about a 30-minute shooting drill for the fans. Coach Greg McDermott and senior guard Jahenns Manigat both expressed approval of the new logo.
“It looks awesome on the floor and on the scoreboard,” Manigat said. “I think everyone that worked on it did a really good job. I love it. It's a little different than what I'm used to, but I'm all for it.”
McDermott said he went through the rebranding process at his two previous stops — Northern Iowa and Iowa State.
“Our group here zeroed in on what we were looking for and what we wanted to capture as an athletic department and a university,” said McDermott, who was a part of the rebranding process. “We looked at a lot of them (designs), but this one jumped out at me the first time I saw it.
“Any time you have change, it's going to take some of our fans some time, but I'm 100 percent on board with it.”
So is another member of the McDermott household. Son Doug, a two-time All-American, bypassed a chance to turn professional to return to Creighton this season for his senior season.
“Most importantly, Doug likes it,” Greg McDermott said. “That's all that matters.”
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