The Northern Colorado Bears are growing up, checking their youthful temper and getting serious about their studies. A new logo from the prolific design firm Torch Creative marks a new beginning for the university—one in which their mascot Klawz the Bear has a new attitude.
“We were asked to create a logo that could effectively represent both UNC athletics and academics, so the bear needed to be a bit more stern and less ferocious,” said Michael Thurman, owner of Torch Creative. “A growling, snarling bear works fine for athletics, and throughout our career, we’ve designed our share of ‘angry’ animal logos, but given the desired dual usage for academics, UNC was looking to move beyond an aggressive aesthetic and looking for something more intense but, again, not angry.” The new marks replace both the existing athletic program logo (above) and the university’s academic logo (at right). While the new Klawz might be less angry, he’s no less intimidating as a sports logo.
“We knew it would be a dramatic departure from their previous bear,” Thurman said, “but we felt that the intensity implied that this bear was waiting to pounce and not to be tangled with (perfect for athletics), and we’re very pleased with the overall look.”
The new logo set is accompanied by a custom-designed typeface named “Greeley” for the town where UNC’s main campus is located. The font is a slick slab serif that, like the new bear, performs a dual function. “The slab serif is traditionally very effective in athletics, so we felt that it would be a fine display font for UNC athletics,” Thurman said. “Slab serifs typically convey strength and power — the same characteristics of a bear — so it was a natural fit within the overall identity.”
One design feature that’s gotten some attention early on is the comparatively smaller eyes on the new bear. It’s an element of the logo that was carefully considered during the design process.
“We studied bears a lot, and oversized/overly animated eyes can, at times, look almost cartoonish and/or come across as a caricature, which is what we were wanting to avoid,” Thurman said. “Also, bears can be tricky because they really have massive heads, so in order to convey that mass in a flat, 2D image, the eyes must be smaller. If the eyes are not sized correctly, you run the risk of it looking like a dog or weird hybrid animal. UNC wanted — and we wanted — a bear.”
Torch Creative posted the new logos online Friday, and it is already in use on the university’s websites and social media outlets.
Notoriously bear-averse Stephen Colbert could not be reached for comment on this article.