Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Charlotte 49ers Unveil New Branding

The Charlotte 49ers, UNC Charlotte’s Division I intercollegiate athletics program, today unveiled a highly anticipated new brand identity that is expected to become a rallying point for all of Niner Nation and the broader Charlotte community. This is the first update to the Charlotte 49ers athletic mark since 2000.

“The new identity captures the energy that will drive our programs to championship-level success,” said 49ers Director of Athletics Mike Hill. “It’s an exciting time for Charlotte athletics. We enjoyed our first football bowl game last season, set a record for home wins in men’s basketball, won league titles in men’s and women’s track and field, advanced to the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament second round, and saw multiple teams continue their dramatic competitive ascent.

To build on that, we’re thrilled to have our new bolder identity that not only reflects our commitment to excellence but encompasses the pride this community has for our institution as well as our strong connection to our dynamic city.”

The centerpiece of the new look is a distinctive mark called the “All-In C.” An evolution from the current Charlotte athletics logo, it places the classic 49ers’ gold-mining pick inside a collegiate-inspired “C” with beveled corners, an aggressive stance and a 9-degree forward tilt that illustrates the brand’s positive energy and forward momentum.

“It looks incredible,” said Head Football Coach Will Healy. “It will look great on the side of a helmet. It will look great in the middle of a basketball court and on jerseys. When you have a cool logo to go along with Nike on the other side, it’s going to help us in recruiting. It’s going to help our player experience here, where they feel really good about where they are playing. I think adding ‘CLT’ to the mark is a big step. We’ve been focused on how we incorporate the city into our brand. How do we make sure we are Charlotte’s Division I university? This is a big step forward for our program.”

The new brand identity is tentatively set to debut during fall seasons, which are dependent on how college sports return in the coronavirus pandemic. Fans can expect it to appear on football team helmets, a variety of sports jerseys and signage at athletic facilities, including the basketball court in Halton Arena. The athletic department is also working closely with the Trademark Licensing Office and the Collegiate Licensing Company to provide retail distribution for merchandise featuring the new marks.

“I’ve seen this University and the city transform,” said Women’s Basketball Coach Cara Consuegra. "We’re a young city, an energetic city. We’re a young university, an energetic university. The branding brings the city and the University together into that forward momentum. It has energy.”

Charlotte 49ers athletics partnered with Luquire George Andrews (LGA), a Charlotte-based strategic communications firm that has several UNC Charlotte alumni on its roster. The year-long collaboration was led by LGA Senior Vice President/Executive Creative Director Todd Aldridge, a distinguished alumnus of UNC Charlotte’s College of Arts + Architecture.

“This was really a labor of love,” said Aldridge, who represents one of three generations in his family with connections to the University spanning nearly 50 years. “UNC Charlotte means so much not just to its alumni, faculty, staff and students, but to the entire community. As the school’s impact on our region reaches new heights, we were determined to develop an identity that reflected a positive, forward trajectory.”

In April of 2019, the athletic department and agency team completed internal and external research during the assessment phase of the project. This included a brand articulation session with a broad cross-section of University stakeholders, in-depth interviews with selected administrators, supporters and licensees, and extensive online surveys targeting alumni and students.

The results of the assessment phase led to the crafting of an internal brand promise for the Charlotte 49ers: “Fearlessly Embracing Momentum.” The assessment and brand promise helped inspire the development of new creative concepts to represent the Niners athletics brand.

“We leaned into the words that emerged in the research phase about how people described Charlotte 49ers athletics,” said Chris Fuller, the 49ers’ deputy athletic director for External Affairs. “Words like inspiring, dynamic, youthful, energetic, excellence and growth helped shape the brand promise and a new look. We saw a need and an opportunity to strengthen and simplify our logo to make it more distinctive and recognizable and we feel confident this has been achieved.”

“Our team is in the process of exploring all the ways to bring our new brand identity to life,” added Fuller. “And it couldn’t come at a better time, with students, faculty and staff returning to campus in September. This will be a great way to kick off the new school year.”