A new rabbit arises

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

A toothy-grinned jackrabbit has been the face of SDSU athletics for more than 30 years. But some say it’s out of style, and a hunt has begun to find a more current look for the SDSU Jackrabbit.

About a year ago, Rob Peterson, associate athletic director, and Derek Peterson, director of the University Bookstore, noticed that the Jackrabbit stood out from the other Division-I logos because it wasn’t as current. The two then recruited representatives of different university constituent groups to further discuss a Jackrabbit makeover.

After only a few meetings, the group decided that an update would be appropriate and chose Phoenix Design Works of New York City to design a new Jackrabbit and an official Jackrabbit font.

Kat Brandtjen, Students’ Association vice president and student representative for the committee, said they chose the firm because it is the “Cadillac of athletic logo companies.”

“Their designs look unique instead of you going and getting a cookie cutter logo,” she said. “They are very experienced and they do quality work.”

Representatives from Phoenix Design Works will visit SDSU Oct. 18 to present exploratory designs for the looks. The logo committee will then conduct surveys, polls and focus groups to get a feel for what the Jackrabbit should look like. The new Jackrabbit will be chosen sometime in February, and the group plans some special event for the unveiling.

“We are not doing this in a vacuum,” Rob Peterson said.

The Jackrabbit makeover is just another part of the Division-I transition, Rob Peterson said. The issue was brought up last fall, but was put on the back burner because it wasn’t too pressing. With SDSU’s acceptance into the Mid-Continent Conference, it just seemed like the appropriate time for a mascot makeover, he said.

Although the committee has no preconceived ideas of how the new Jackrabbit should look, it wants a logo that accurately represents a jackrabbit – sleek and fast, Rob

Peterson said.

“We don’t want a muscular rabbit,” he said.

There isn’t anything wrong with the current Jackrabbit based on basic design principles, said Crystal Ehresmann, a 2003 graphics design graduate. A good logo is one that conveys a certain feeling, transfers well and reads clear, which the current one does, she said.

“There is nothing glaring about it,” said Ehresmann, a marketing associate for Daktronics, Inc.

Before choosing Phoenix, Derek asked a Brandon firm to come up with some preliminary designs.

“After the group saw the ideas, they were like ‘Wow, there really are some ideas there that can bring us in the current period,” he said.

The committee is hoping the new logo and font will give SDSU more of a brand name, which will require stronger trademark regulations. The current Jackrabbit logo is only trademarked in the state. Jenny Crickard, director of University Relations, said the university has applied for a federal trademark, which is currently being filed, and the new Jackrabbit will be trademarked throughout the country.

“There has been a little bit of concern getting the trademark,” Crickard said. “It’s not inexpensive.”

Rob Petersonsaid there was never any discussion to get rid of the Jackrabbit mascot. SDSU is the only team in the NCAA that has a Jackrabbit mascot, and many students take pride in that, said SA President Alex Halbach.

In addition to helping merchandise sales, a newer Jackrabbit would be an all-around benefit to SDSU.

“We are competing for students, to draw them to the university, and a lot of that depends on the mark,” he said.

The current Jackrabbit was created in 1971 by Larry Westall of University Relations. Up until 1938, the Jackrabbit looked more like an actual rabbit. It developed into more of a cartoon figure, but the rabbit was never well designed until the current logo was adopted, said Keith Jensen, class of 1954.

“When we got this logo I thought we had arrived at something. I guess that is why I like what we have,” he said.

Jensen said he understands why some might want to change it.

“I have to see the choices before I would be real happy about changing,” he said.

Many students are also fond of the current Jackrabbit. According to an unscientific poll on the Collegian’s Web site, 66 percent polled said the Jackrabbit is not out of date.

Michael Loney, a forward on the men’s basketball team, said he thinks the current logo is fine, but is interested to see what the new rabbit will look like.

“I like the mascot. It’s really neat and unique,” he said.

Brandtjen said student input is very important in the Jackrabbit redesign. She was asked to join the group on behalf of students after the group had already decided to change the logo and were discussing which firm to contract with. Students deserve to have a voice on the future of the Jackrabbit because it belongs to them, she said.

“I really want students’ input,” Brandtjen said. “I personally like the bunny and I don’t think I’m alone.”

Both North Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota recently updated their mascot logos, and neither school had much of an uproar about the changes. Danielle Troske, editor-in-chief of the NDSU Spectrum, said the Bison changes frequently, and when it changed again this fall, most students didn’t seem to mind.

Jenny Pohlman, editor-in-chief of the USD Volante, said the Coyote redesign, which happened two years ago, was long overdue and most students seem to like the current logo better.

The group understands that the Jackrabbit is near and dear to some people’s hearts and that some may oppose the redesign. Rob said it will be a change, and some people just don’t like change, but the group hopes to find an updated version of the Jackrabbit that will still accurately represent SDSU.

“I think if they are not very careful and very tasteful, it will be a difficult transition,” Brandtjen said.

The current Jackrabbit will not completely vanish, Rob Peterson said, it just won’t be the primary Jackrabbit for the athletic department.

#1.884187:1750045209.jpg:logo.jpg:Until 1971, the SDSU Jackrabbit took many different looks thoughout the years.: