Determined to create unity in its look while embracing tradition, Cal athletics unveiled a new visual identity on Wednesday, including uniforms for all its sports and a more ferocious update of its Golden Bear logo.
“To me, it says we’re not messing around,” linebacker Nick Forbes said of the growling Bear logo. “It’s an aggressive Bear. It’ll be true to how we’re going to play next year.”
Nike developed the new line of uniforms, which will be rolled out at the start of the 2013-14 school year on all fronts. The changes are distinct, but hardly a dramatic departure from what fans are accustomed to seeing.
Cal is not following the lead of the Pac-12′s most famous Nike school, Oregon, which seemingly introduces flamboyant, non-traditional new uniforms on a regular basis.
“We’re not trying to create an identity for ourselves — we have one. It’s the University of California,” new football coach Sonny Dykes said. “I don’t think we need to try to get into uniform battles. We’ll let other schools do that because that’s what they’re particularly good at.”
The traditional Cal script is intact, as is the Bears’ blue and gold color scheme, which will be augmented at times by gray. Black is not part of the new package.
Dykes said he expects the football team to wear blue jerseys and gold pants for all home games. On the road, he said a combination of white and gray likely will be used, although he also envisioned blue pants and gray jerseys.
The helmet has a dark blue matte finish, with the gold Cal script on the side.
“I think the traditional helmet is a big deal,” Dykes said.
Athletic director Sandy Barbour said Cal has sent a confusing message regarding its brand in recent years, with a variety of logos and visual marks. She said consistency will replace dilution to create a clear message in everything that represents Cal athletics, from uniforms to advertising to letterhead.
“It’s an expectation,” she said, explaining what branding means. “It’s memories and stories and relationships that are elicited by the visual representation of Cal athletics.
“Brand is, in essence, a promise of what will be delivered or experienced.”
The unveiling in the Field Club room at Memorial Stadium was the culmination of a nearly two-year joint project by Cal and Nike.
Nike will cover all costs for the new uniforms, Barbour said, so there will be no additional burden to Cal’s financially stressed athletic department.
Barbour said the football team first saw its new uniforms on Tuesday night and “went bonkers.” She said most of Cal’s coaches are excited that the new look will appeal to potential recruits.
Forbes, expected to be one of Cal’s top defensive players in the fall, said of the new uniform, “It’s a very nice, clean look for Cal. It stays true to our tradition.”
Barbour knows there will be mixed reaction, especially to the new Bear logo.
“I like it. I don’t expect everyone to love it,” she said. “The objective was to create something that everybody goes, `That’s Cal.’ ”
Dykes, acknowledging that he’s “not a big uniform guy,” said he’s happy with Nike’s work. He also noted, “Our players need to be worried about getting ready to play games, not uniforms and all that.”
Fans are immediately able to purchase gear with the new identity online at CalBearsShop.com, but shirts, hats and other souvenirs traditional logos will continue to be available as well.