Franklin & Marshall's athletic teams have a long and storied tradition marked by championship seasons, academic excellence and institutional pride. Beginning this year, the tradition also includes a unified look.
The Department of Athletics & Recreation unveiled a new website on Sept. 1. Its banner features the College's new graphic identity for the athletic teams' longtime nickname, "Diplomats." The logo was the product of months of research and planning by a focus group comprising student-athletes, alumni, coaches and administrators. The new mark will be used solely for athletics, and the Franklin & Marshall College graphic identity will still be used in appropriate venues within athletics.
"I was thrilled to see how dedicated everyone was to the idea of branding 'Diplomats,'" says Patty Epps, director of athletics and recreation. "I find 'Diplomats' to be an appropriate and honorable name, and alumni, students and coaches feel the same way. It speaks to our behavior on and off the field."
The process of creating the logo began when Nancy Collins, vice president for College communications, formed the focus group early in the spring semester.
"It's important for every school to have a strong athletic graphic identity," Collins says. "Franklin & Marshall hasn't had one, probably because 'Diplomats' does not immediately call to mind images typically associated with athletic competition. It was valuable to have representative stakeholders consider the kind of symbol that would serve this important function."
Mimi Kolb '83 designed the new mark with input from the focus group. Director of Publications Jason Klinger led the group, which included Sports Information Director Mickey Blymier, Scott Bluery '13, Epps, Al Ingraham '72 of the Diplomat Athletic Club Advisory Council, Nicole Morano '11, Head Women's Lacrosse Coach Lauren Paul '03, Director of Athletic Communications Steve Peed, Jay Ridinger '11, Head Baseball Coach Adam Taylor, Alumni Board member and advertising specialist Dave Taylor '81 and Taryn Webb '11.
"Our first conversation in the focus group was about what to do with the name 'Diplomats,'" Peed says. "The challenge was to come up with a logo that fits every team, and every place it would appear. It had to be modular."
Early in the process, someone noticed that Paul was wearing a crest on her lacrosse jacket—a concept the focus group liked. The group studied various types of crests and eventually decided on a shield. Group members say the shield symbolizes the core strengths of Diplomat athletic teams: stoic, noble and defensively stout. Kolb presented a range of options, and after several weeks of refinement, the new logo was selected.
"It was an honor to be part of the group because the logo will be around long after I graduate," says Morano, a captain of the F&M volleyball team. "I'll never forget the day we figured out the shield we wanted, and we agreed on the color and put it on the big screen."
The logo's color is lapis, a different blue from many current F&M uniforms, which are a darker blue. Described by members of the focus group as a striking blue—or the color of the cupola on Hensel Hall—the new color has actually been worn by the men's basketball team for many years. Because teams order uniforms in three-year cycles, the process of phasing in the new look will be gradual.
Along with the logo, a new athletics website launched as part of the new branding effort. It was the perfect time to revamp the website, Peed says, as the previous contract expired this year.
"We had a great website, but even though it was only two years old, it was showing its age," Peed says. "We'll be at the front of the pack in Division III. The website is like our front porch, and we want to have the best."
The new site includes the same content Diplomat fans have enjoyed in the past, plus several enhancements. The user-friendly GoDiplomats.com will offer free, live video of more than 100 events this year; a range of social media options, including Facebook and Twitter; and MobileNow, a new tool to bring the website to iPhone and Droid.
"From a coaching standpoint, the logo and website will help recruiting," Adam Taylor says. "Many student-athletes visit the website before anything else. I love the way it looks. The best part is that it unifies the department as a whole."
Fans of F&M athletic teams can order apparel with the new logo from Boathouse Sports, which they can access from GoDiplomats.com
"Everyone wears 'F&M' proudly," Peed says. "We want people to wear 'Diplomats' proudly, too."