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ECU athletics director Jeff Compher talks about the process of selecting a new logo in his office Tuesday afternoon. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

ECU sports logo, plan unveiled

By Nathan Summers, The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Every Pirate logo in the history of East Carolina University sports has shared four things in common, and that is not subject to change.

The university and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher on Wednesday released a new strategic plan for ECU athletics under the title of “Undaunted,” and with it comes some new thinking, a spirited mission statement video, new branding ideas and a new logo.

Like all that came before it, the new flagship skull-and-crossbones logo — which will carry ECU into the American Athletic Conference — depicts a pirate with an eyepatch, a hat, a scarf and an earring. And for the first time, ECU teams now have one identifying mark.

“This effort was about being consistent in our placement and our usage of our marks, and making sure that all of our programs adhere to our plan,” said Compher, who utilized an 82-member committee to revamp the athletics program’s mission statement, an effort that began in September 2012 before Compher’s appointment in the late spring of last year.

“The committee’s work began long before I was even hired, and so many things have happened since then,” Compher said. “Obviously, the transition into the American Conference was a big factor, first in just football and then in all sports, and also my coming on board and a new staff coming on board. We ended up taking our time and going back and looking at the strategic plan and saying, ‘What is it that we like about it?’”

Compher said the school’s existing plan was a good one, and that much of the committee’s work was about maintaining all of the elements it liked. Ultimately, Compher said he wanted ECU’s athletics mission to be in terms he could readily explain.

To that end, the plan released on Tuesday breaks ECU’s original seven athletics priorities — academics, student-athlete well-being, competitive excellence, increased brand awareness and institutional reputation, integrity, accountability and compliance, resources and fiscal management, operations and organizational management — into simpler terms to reflect mission, vision and values. The result was the new Pirate Creed and Pirate Code unveiled with the plan.

The research that went into the new primary logo released on Tuesday, and additional branding and lettering to be released today, was about preserving the university’s history but also streamlining it for a new era.

When Compher arrived, he took notice of what he called “brand creeping,” meaning the school’s sports teams had all adopted different branding ideas.

“Programs kind of picked out the mark they wanted, and that’s the mark they used,” he said. “There were so many marks out there. When I came in — you see it on my (office) wall — I’ve got the old script ‘Pirates,’ and that’s hardly even being used anymore. I liked it and didn’t know any better. That, in and of itself, said we needed to kind of hone in our marks, simplify them, update them and, more importantly, be nationally known.”

The effort also took into account uniform color and style, and Compher said the committee that worked on the new strategic plan wanted to put ECU’s uniqueness at the forefront.

“There are only three purple-and-gold FBS (college football’s top-division) teams in the entire country — us, LSU and Washington,” Compher said. “We’re the only Pirates in the FBS and the only ECU in the FBS, so we wanted to be able to take that kind of unique branding opportunity and be sure that we incorporated that into not just our marks but our entire story.”

Compher knows the changes will be met with some scrutiny and admitted there were even some heated discussions within the committee in the early stages. Also involved in the decisions were students, student-athletes, coaches and equipment staff.

“We’ve met with our coaches and our staff and we’ve said, ‘This is how we want you to use it. This is how we want you to depict it on all of your uniforms,’ so that as we move forward, there will be that level of consistency,” Compher said.

Putting the “ECU” lettering across the hat of the new skull-and-crossbones logo also was a major factor, Compher said, making sure the logo set the Pirates apart nationally.

The new Undaunted Strategic Plan and accompanying video can be viewed online at ecupirates.com.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com or 252-329-9595.

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