The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo unveiled a new athletic logo in November 2009, giving away a thousand rally towels sporting the new design during a Vulcan women’s volleyball match.
Susan Yugawa and Darin Igawa created the new design, which was introduced to the public by Vulcan Athletic Director Dexter Irvin. Both are UH Hilo graphic artists; Igawa received his BFA from UH Mānoa in 1985.
“I think it’s an evolution of a need for consistency, for a need to brand ourselves and market ourselves, to update the perception of what we are at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo,” Irvin says. Overall feedback on the design, which features “V” for Vulcans at home and “H” for Hawaiʻi–Hilo on the road, has been positive, he adds.
There are always a few naysayers. But certainly, in our shirt sales and in our feedback from the people in our community, the emphasis has been very positive.”
Yugawa calls the year-and-a-half process to visually re-brand UH Hilo athletics “a fascinating journey.” The change was directed by former acting Athletic Director Luoluo Hong with input from the Vulcan athletic staff.
“We tried our best to create images that were representative of our island home,” Yugawa says. “The volcano and our voyaging heritage became consistent themes that we incorporated into the main Vulcan ‘fire and sail’ image.
“Darin researched other university brand systems before making the key design decisions, which were presented for review. For years, we had been dealing with confusing versions of the initial Vulcan athletic seal or logo as well as numerous altered versions of both the color and brand images. Our goal when we embarked on the concept development was to create a strong, consistently cohesive, enforceable brand for the Vulcan athletic program which the athletes would be proud of.”
Gone is the old red, white and blue color scheme, replaced by what Irvin called a “more visually striking” black lettering trimmed with scarlet.
“The design and the color change may be one of the more significant things, to go from blue to black,” Irvin says. “We had about 20 shades of blue here, so the coaches and the people in the community that we talked to felt like black was a more consistent color and easier for us to market. It gives us more distinction. So we’ve evolved from the various shades of blue that have infected our uniform closets to consistent black and scarlet red.”
The old Vulcan logos? “All retired,” stresses Irvin.
“If we ever have a ‘throwback day,’ we may un-retire them,” he says. “But they’ll be displayed in our Hall of Fame as a historical perspective of how we’ve evolved.”