Monday, 4 September 2017

Cougars Look Sharp

With school starting for some tomorrow, it's time for a piece on a school that I've come to admire. I have to admit that I'm a fan of the Mount Royal Cougars. I had a chance to get to speak with a few of their students and parents during the Canada West women's hockey playoffs last season as we set up interviews for the radio broadcasts of the games, and there was a small part of me hoping they'll shock the world this season and knock one of the bigger schools not named Manitoba down a notch or two. This is a program that is really starting to find its legs in Canada West women's hockey, and the Cougars made another impressive move this summer when they announced they were rebranding and taking to the fields, courts, pitches, and ice in new uniforms! The new logo above is already an impressive upgrade to the Cougars' old look, so count me as a fan of what the Cougars are doing!

First, let's roll the video that MRU produced for the rebranding.
Ok, so that felt more like a recruitment video or a first-day-of-classes video meant to hype the school. There were some glimpses, however, of the new logo and some of the new branding the school is doing. Personally, I was impressed with the number of students across all walks of life that MRU included, and that speaks volumes to their diverse representation in a number of faculties and in their athletic programs. Well done, Mount Royal!

So what do the new threads look like?

Wow! I'm only going to focus on the hockey jersey here, but I love the MRU across the chest with the cougar's head in the R's negative space. It's very professional, it's certainly noticeable on the white uniform, and I like its usage on the hockey jersey compared to the other three uniforms (yes, I may be a little biased). The team-coloured Canada West patch above the logo looks great, and I love the old-time feel of the stripes on the sleeves and hem to really give the jersey a slimmed-down, streamlined look heading into this season.

For those who may not follow MRU hockey, the old jerseys looked very collegiate as you can see to the right. Number in the middle with the school's name in a radially-arched design with the school's logo on the sleeve? That's entirely how college hockey used to look before teams began to sell themselves and the school via their athletics programs. The logo, seen below, is almost non-existent on the uniform, but I do love the striping the school used for its hockey jerseys on the old sweaters. I'd buy one of those tomorrow if they were available to be purchased! Comparatively, Mount Royal will move from SP Apparel to CCM with the new threads as well.

The old logo didn't really give off a message about a progressive, diverse, and sophisticated educational institution like Mount Royal University. It feels cartoonish and elementary - something you'd see on a beer league team's uniforms. While it may have worked while Mount Royal was playing in the ACAC, but the Cougars might have the best logo in all of Canada West with the new rebrand. Dare I even say they may be one of the best in all of U Sports now? Yup, I said it.

The more interesting part of the rebrand is that this new look has been in the works since 2016 as Mount Royal worked key stakeholders at every level to capture the essence of Mount Royal University and the pride of being a Cougar.
In 2016, a year-long visual identity refresh project began with strategic planning and included feedback from students, alumni, faculty and staff. Research found that the true value of the Cougars brand was to make it more available and inclusive for everyone on campus and everyone who has a connection to MRU.
I'd say the work done by the internal Mount Royal University committee and Edmonton-based graphic design firm Artslinger accomplished the goal that Mount Royal University wanted because I, as a non-student and non-Albertan, want to wear that logo. While the bookstore has yet to offer any products with the new front-facing cougar on it, I'm going on record to admit that I'll be the first non-MRU-affiliated person in this province to proudly wear the new Cougars logo.

Well done, MRU! We'll see you in January with your new gear!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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