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Saint Mary's College Athletic Department Releases New Logo

July 21, 2007

Moraga, CA - The Saint Mary's College Department of Athletics and Recreational Sports unveiled its new athletic logo today in a joint press conference/reception as part of SMC's reunion weekend, which played host to over 600 people. The new logo system, developed by Osaki Creative, Inc of Emeryville, CA, has remained a monogram "SMC", although it has been completely revamped to incorporate a sense of tradition, family, and pride, embodying the essence of a Saint Mary's Gael.

"The SMC logo is a reflection of the proud history of Saint Mary's College and Celtic art and culture. "The knot work design of the logo creates a monogram that reflects unity and the family unit of Saint Mary's College. The shield is a symbol of Gaelic pride and protection," said Kurt Osaki, Lead Designer of Osaki Creative.

In his address to a standing room only audience, Director of Athletics, Mark Orr also complimented the logo's embodiment of the College's traditions. "Our initial research showed that the SMC community associated the Gaels with family, unity, brotherhood and pride," said Orr. "The implementation of Celtic knotwork into the mark took these keywords and fused them with the rich tradition of our mascot's heritage. I think it really tells our story."

Today's launch celebrates a complete redesign of the athletic logo system. All of the facilities on campus have been updated with the new marks. "I am extremely pleased with how the new logo has shown so far," said Director of Marketing and Advertising, Mike Samuels. "It has a traditional yet timeless look that truly speaks to what Saint Mary's College represents."

The Athletic Department also stated that the second phase of the project, to create a new three-dimensional Gael mascot, is already underway. They expect to unveil the new mascot before January.

Champs stores throughout the Bay Area will begin to carry SMC merchandise beginning on August 15, marking the first time in the College's history that an official in-store licensing agreement has been signed with an off-campus vendor. Merchandise bearing the new logo was available at the release party and is currently through the on campus bookstore and Game Day Souvenirs. Promotional tee-shirts and decals donning the new marks were provided for all those in attendance.

For more information, please contact the SMC Marketing Office at 925-631-4265 or email msamuels@stmarys-ca.edu.

Symbolism of the New Logo

The new SMC logo uses Celtic knotwork, the SMC monogram, and a shield to represent the traditions of the mascot's heritage.

It was identified through research done by Oskai Creative and the Design Committee, that being an SMC Gael was about being a part of a family. A few key words were identified, that would serve as the guiding light for the committee throughout the process. These words were:


After more research, it was discovered that these keywords, not only define what being an SMC Gael represents, but they also very accurately symbolized the traditions of the Celtic people and/or Celtic Warriors, which is what a Gael is.

Celtic people often rendered patterns, now referred to as Celtic knotwork. This knotwork may be best described as a series of endless lines, interwoven into an endless pattern used for decoration and ornamentation of Christian monuments and Manuscripts.

The new SMC logo has been designed in such an interwoven pattern, representing the continuous bond and out guiding words of Family, Brotherhood, Unity and Pride. The shield shows power and reminds us that a Gael is also a warrior worthy of competition.

The complete logo system includes a unique Celtic font as well as a knotwork pattern. The font is one-of-a-kind, and was designed specifically as part of the logo system to further brand the Celtic presence and traditions within our marks.

Logo Re-Design Process

In 2003 the Athletic Department embarked upon a process to create a new athletic mark, in hopes of creating a system which more accurately represented the heritage of the school's mascot. After more than a year's work and several failed attempts, the project was disbanded.

In June of 2006, the Athletic Department made the decision to make another effort to redesign it's logo system, with the hopes of creating a mark that could not only tell a bit more about the heritage and rich tradition of a Gael, but that would also serve as a timeless piece that could effectively brand the College and its athletic program.

The process began with the marketing department sending out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to eleven design firms across the country. After much research, Osaki Creative, Inc., of Emeryville, CA was chosen. Oskai Creative was selected due to the uniqueness of their portfolio, as well as the success they had overcoming challenges they had encountered at previous schools.

"From our efforts to redesign the logo in 2003, we were well aware that designing a mark that speaks to and incorporates who we are and what a Gael is would not be an easy task," said Director of Marketing and Advertising, Mike Samuels.

Oskai Creative designed new logo systems for the University of Hawaii and San Diego State University, both of which faced identity challenges similar to SMC's.

"San Diego State spent a number of years attempting to redesign their marks," Samuels said. "We felt that we were in a similar situation here at SMC and were confident that if Osaki was able to solve SDSU's identity issues - they could solve ours."

After choosing a design firm, the next step was to assemble a Logo Design Committee. The committee was charged with providing an initial direction for Osaki Creative and then to provide feedback on all subsequent designs. After a few weeks of research, a 20 person committee, representing a cross-section of SMC constituents was assembled.

"We really tried to incorporate every group of the Campus Community," said former Director of External Affairs, Katie Davis. "We actively recruited alumni, former student-athletes, current students, season ticket holders, donors, regents, faculty members, and coaches. In the end, their input and direction was invaluable to the success of the project. We could not have done it without them!"

As the Logo Design Committee was being formed, Osaki Creative began its background work. Aside from doing the tradition research into the College's roots and simply researching "What is a Gael?" The company conducted over 100 interviews in person and via phone (when necessary) with current and former students and athletes, faculty and staff, regents and trustees, and the President's Office. They used this research along with a preliminary meeting with the logo committee to gather ideas for the initial set of drawings.

On its first attempt, Osaki Creative kept all avenues open, presenting approximately 25 different designs ranging from monograms to humanistic depictions of a Gael. From there, the committee provided feedback on the current options and made suggestions for revision. Over the course of the next three months, the committee would narrow the options down and refine those that remained, little by little, meeting by meeting, resulting in a consensus on the final system.

"When we first started, I wasn't sure about the direction we were heading. We kept talking about the keywords, that we wanted the mark to represent; Unity, Pride, Family, and Brotherhood, said Saint Mary's Professor of Economics, Bill Lee. "When I saw the final mark, it all came together. I couldn't believe how well it incorporated the feeling we were attempting to encompass."

Once the committee made its recommendation and it was passed by the Athletic Department, the system was presented to the President's Cabinet, the Regent's Marketing Committee, and then the College's Board of Trustees.

After the new system was approved, implementation and planning began. The charge was to replace every mark on campus by the July 21 release date. For help with this, the Athletic Department contracted Proclaim Promotions, a Lafayette based company, to help with the transition of facility signage.

History on the Athletic Logo

Since the birth of Athletics in the 1880's, a number of athletic logos have been used. Prior to completing this current design, the College was still using several outdated logos, which are visible throughout campus. Over the years, the Gael logo has been depicted as a knight on a horse, one more cartoonish in nature, the other more aristocratic in nature. The current SMC monogram was introduced in 2001. All three were adequate marks, but none of them accurately portrayed the Gaelic heritage.

In the late 1880's, the football team was known as the Saint Mary's Saints, while the baseball team played under the name the Phoenix. It wasn't until 1929, after sportswriter Pat Frayne of the San Francisco Call, christened the football team "The Galloping Gaels," that the mascot was officially adopted by the College to represent its athletic teams. Throughout this time, there were various artist renderings of the logo, but nothing was officially adopted until the early 80's.

It's clear that the college has never possessed a true identity system, complete with consistent primary and secondary marks and fonts. This new mark will provide the College with an exciting new identity, while truly embracing the Celtic heritage of the Gael.

Purpose of the Redesign

The purpose of embarking on the new logo project was to create a dynamic, consistent and recognizable identity system for the Saint Mary's College Department of Athletics and Recreational Sports. In doing so, the Department hopes to establish the following objectives:

- Increase the marketing and promotional opportunities for the Department
- Enhanced exposure and revenue for the institution
- More accurately depict who the Gaels are
- Create a more "brand friendly mark"

The re-design process was initiated with four main focal points in mind:

External Audience - a professionally designed, identifiable mark will more accurately represent the institution through increased local, regional and national brand awareness.

Internal Audience - increased distribution and exposure of Saint Mary's merchandise and logo creates brand awareness and pride within the Saint Mary's community.

Licensing/Merchandise - ability to generate revenue from sales of apparel through external merchants.

Communality and Competition - a comprehensive athletic identity system, common to all NCAA Division I Institutions, will allow the College to take advantage of similar marketing opportunities as demonstrated by our fellow West Coast Conference institutions.

What they said about the Logo

"The form of the Celtic knot evokes the image of the ancient warrior Gaels that sets us apart from the 19th century Irish-American stereotypes used by other schools having Irish mascots. Like Saint Mary's, it's classic." - John Neudecker '72

"The SMC logo is a reflection of the proud history of Saint Mary's College and Celtic art and culture. The knot work design of the logo creates a monogram that reflects unity and the family of Saint Mary's College. The shield is a symbol of Gaelic pride and protection." - Kurt Osaki, Lead Designer - Osaki Creative

"The logo pays respect to many complex images of the College and brings them together in a very clean and contemporary fashion. The logo expresses both a contemporary edge and the Gaelic tradition. I give thanks to the design team who saw and discussed all the possibilities through a collaborative and exhaustive effort." - Michael Johnson - `87

"We finally have a mark that expresses our heritage and traditions as an institution and illustrates a meaningful identity." - Courtney Carmignani, Alumni Relations

"I'm excited about the new logo as it embodies the spirit and traditions of the College. The logo provides the opportunity for students to identify with their athletic teams and I am hopeful we will see it worn all over campus." - Scott Kier, Associate Dean of Student Life

"The new athletics logo is an exciting new look that reflects the Gaelic heritage and the rich tradition of the sports programs at Saint Mary's College." -Mario Alioto, Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing for San Francisco Giants

The new athletics logo embodies the new energy exhibited in our programs. It also captures the sense of tradition which unites all Gaels - young and old." - Ted Tsukahara `62