Included with the release were two items that were of note, one is the brand guide, the other is the background to the design of the Cincinnati Stripe, which will be a prominent design element on all of the UC uniforms. Feel free to browse both at your leisure, because these documents are building blocks toward the final product.
Long time readers of this blog know by now that I am a sucker for design. It is something that i have always had a passion for. Whether it's the design of Nippert Stadium or the design of the Bearcats tournament uniforms. This stuff matters to me, and it always has. I would not have wound up at the University of Cincinnati if the campus did not look the way it looks and felt the way it feels. The essence of the place is at once eternal and ephemeral. You can't quantify the effect of any one element of the UC campus to the whole, but you know the moment you walk down Main Street that the whole is overwhelming.
The UC campus looks the way it looks because a whole bunch of incredibly smart and perceptive designers got in a room over at DAAP and thought about everything for months on end. That's what you have to do when you have a large and ever growing student population and a fixed amount of land to work with. When resources are scarce, as they undoubtedly are for UC, a great deal of effort has to go into maximizing them. UC's campus isn't just a work of art, its a functional educational environment that just happens to look like nothing else in this country, or the world for that matter. That's what I love about the place, Main Street could only look like Main Street. It could not look any other way and still function as the primary artery through campus. CRC could only exist on the footprint it occupies, Those are just two examples of a dozen or more where you look at a building and it immediately becomes clear that this thing couldn't exist anywhere else.
I am sure some of you are with me on these points, but are wondering what any of this has to do with the Under Armour contract, which is a simple financial agreement between two companies. It is that yes, but it is so much more than that. As much as the idealists in higher education don't want to admit it the profile of an institution is tied in someway to the performance of their sports teams, particularly football and basketball. Those teams are the window to the world for prospective students. Putting your student athletes in uniforms that are unique and iconic ties the university to it's team. I came to love the University of Cincinnati deeply when I came down to Clifton, but I probably would not have come to UC in the first place if it wasn't for Danny Fortson. That sentiment is not unique to myself.
The reason that I am so excited about what Under Armour is going to do for the brand of the Bearcats is that they as a company mesh seamlessly with the DAAP ethos that transformed the UC campus. For all that Adidas did for UC and for how well they treated the Bearcats there was nothing about their designs that was unique and uniquely Cincinnati. The way that the campus community approaches design is a much better fit with Under Armour. Just look at what they did for Northwestern.
I have no idea what the final product is going to look like for the Bearcats, none of us are likely to know before the 1st of July, and that's not all bad. What is known is that UA is a company that puts a ton of thought into everything they do visually. As a brand they have a reputation for being flashy and trying to out do Nike at their own game. But when they take over the contract with a school they don't just throw stuff up on a white board. They work their way through problems, and when their solutions raise new problems they work through those too. That's the Under Armour way, and that's the Cincinnati way. This really should be a marriage made in heaven.