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Is This The Worst Logo Update Of 2013?

The Appalachian State Mountaineers have just unveiled a new logo and it looks like a deranged Simpsons version of Abe Lincoln. What were they thinking?

On Monday, Appalachian State University unveiled an official new secondary logo for the school's athletic department: a disastrous figure that looks like a Simpsons rendering of Abraham Lincoln’s drunken evil twin. Probably drawn in Microsoft Paint, it shows a grumpy, frowny old man smoking a corncob pipe and with a top hat hiding his bald yellow head. This character’s name is "Victory Yosef," but his face is the picture of defeat.

His victory, I suppose, was in usurping the former, perfectly normal "Yosef Head" secondary logo, which was introduced in 1999. (See the school's primary logo here.) Yosef, the school's mascot, is a sassy mountaineer. Smiling and looking hopefully toward the future, the old Yosef Head logo was not particularly memorable but at least he projected an air of stoic optimism. According to the school’s giddy announcement of the switch, the Appalachian State community much preferred this new "throwback logo," which was used last season for a single game as part of a promotional event. It’s based on the logo the school used in the '70s, which gives it "significant historical meaning," the school says.

What really happened, we suspect—we don't know, because the designers did not respond to calls and emails for comment—is that ASU noticed other sports organizations adopting retro branding, and decided to hop on the bandwagon. "Traditional logos with strong mascots are hot in the market right now and we are excited that Appalachian State has chosen to permanently introduce the Victory Yosef logo to its official logo library," said Lewis Hardy, president and CEO of Licensing Resource Group, Appalachian State's licensing management partner.

This statement gets at the heart of what’s so strange about Yosef’s makeover: it’s retro merely for the sake of being retro. It's an attempt to create nostalgia for something that’s not really worth any nostalgia (a common branding mistake). "Remember the good old days when sports logos all looked this shitty?" is all it really says. It’s fetishizing the old school for no discernible purpose.

ASU would probably argue otherwise. "The excitement that Victory Yosef has generated among our students, alumni and fans since we introduced it as a throwback logo last fall has been overwhelming," Appalachian State director of athletics Charlie Cobb said. "Due to its popularity, it only made sense to make Victory Yosef a permanent part of our branding. We hope that it endures as a recognizable mark of Appalachian athletics for years to come."

On, Victory Yosef has a user rating of 3.5 out of 10. In 2012, 7 of their 10 "Worst New Logos" of the year had user ratings higher than that. So what makes it so terrible?

1. It looks like it was drawn by a child, as Deadspin’s Barry Petchetsky points out. Maybe the designers intentionally made it look unprofessional as part of their "throwback" scheme, but what for? Kids in the '90s grunge scene looked gross on purpose, but as a kind of lazy anti-establishment statement—is that what this is? A contrarian screw-your-fancy-mainstream-logo move?

2. It doesn’t serve its purpose. A sports logo should symbolize a team’s pride and power. Even a secondary logo, which serves to reinforce the primary logo (and earn teams some extra cash). This humbug of a mountaineer looks like he hates mountaineering, sports, and everything else. Even the St. Catharine's Stompers' bizarre '90s logo of an angry man with purple feet hints at some kind of athleticism, even if it's limited to grape-stomping.

3. It's simply uglier than all the ugly logos we've come across so far. In 2011, Bleacher Report compiled a slideshow of the 50 worst baseball logos in history. Amazingly, it looks like our friend Victory Yosef worsted all of them, with the possible exception of a terrifying orange demon-elf that was the 1952-1953 logo of the St. Louis Browns. But at least the designers of this nightmare had the excuse of actually living in the '50s and not having Photoshop.

We get the retro vibe ASU is going for, but even the 1950s Red Sox logo of a grinning sock wearing a sock on its head is cleverer than this. What do you think: Is there a logo update worse than ASU's? Sound off in the comments below.

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  • John Haydon

    I'd really get behind their logo IF also launchd a hugely entertaining and twisted but educational animated series on YouTube.

  • Grant McNeely

    The new ASU logo is great! It is a logo of tradition. Unless you have attended ASU, you wouldn't understand how unique the school is. The new logo of Yosef properly represents the school, as well as the Town of Boone. "I'd just as soon be in Boone"

  • Malty17

    I think that A state is trying to get the internet buzz that the GAP got when they introduced their horrible new logo a couple years ago--any publicity is good publicity.

  • Ted Rosenau

    It seems that regardless of the design, ANY ASU logo is the worst one ever made. I happen to believe the previous generation (loving called "the freight train") was the absolute worst. A modern update for the sake of a modern update (ironic in 2013, isn't it?) This logo was chosen to be the current logo from a couple years' grassroots support. The community, alumni, students, and game attendees have gone crazy over this design (which is probably why they didn't update the "Microsoft Paint" aesthetic so adoringly mentioned above. If it's perfect, why change it? For once! And, finally, who cares if it's a crappy logo, because it's our crappy logo and we love it. Look deep into Yousef's eye and see if you can find any concern over this author's opinion. Didn't think so.... Chew Tobacco, Chew Tobacco, Chew Tobacco, Spit! If you ain't a mountaineer, you ain't.... (You get the idea)

  • irwin fletcher

    I'm betting that this is all a marketing tactic to drum up internet talk for free marketing and awareness for the university. In a few months they'll either go back to the old logo or release a new one and state, "we made a mistake", when it was planned the entire time.

  • The Complainer

    Rule number one in university branding: ALUMNI MATTER. If you read the comments to the announcement in their local media, the support is quite clear. The alumni voted for "authenticity" and "history" over the generic modernization developed during the Y2K era. No, the new/old logo isn't nearly as "slickly produced" as Y2K Yosef, but it does have a bit of humor to it. The Y2K version could belong to any number of second-tier/middle market expansion teams in any professional sport from ice hockey to baseball going through their eighth rebrand in less than a decade. At the same time "Victory Yosef" looks ready to pounce on just about anyone who looks funny at his corncob pipe and the mug of moonshine just to carefully hidden from view. He has a bit of intensity, but he isn't so full of himself that he can't have a laugh. Y2K Yosef doesn't even have eyes. True, "Victory Yosef" is not a Degas, a Saul Bass, nor a Chermayeff and Geismar, but it doesn't have to be. The new/old Yosef is someone to wear on an beat-up old ball cap while hammering down just a little of your great uncle's white lightening during a big old tailgate next time they play Western Kentucky, South Alabama, or Arkansas State.

  • David Morgan

    You know Jason that's so ironic you say that. The University of Michigan 6 years ago played music from the movie Deliverance before the game and everyone thought that was so clever and funny......until we made them squeal like a pig....... It's okay to take a shot at the logo. It is not okay to take a cheap shot at the people of the region.

  • Jason Marsh

    It's amazing how something as simple as a logo can sway minds, the 1999-2013 logo had a sense of athletic vigor, where men are born and bread and such, however the new logo fills me with dread, as I gaze upon it's vestige all I can hear are banjos. I fear for those that are young enough to be entering college for the first time, those young upstarts that will make sure the school's coffers are brimming with cash, will be thinking of Deliverance, not heritage.

  • David Morgan

    I am a 1975 Appalachian alumnus. I was not fond of the logo then nor the new one when it was introduced as an attempt to influence negative stereotypical thinking of those in urban areas. Since that time our University has grown in stature and is one of the better academic institutions behind Chapel Hill and NC State. Many of our graduates teach your children and are well regarded in the world of accounting and business. Even with the progress we've made there are still those who remain ignorant and uninformed about our school, region and it's place as part of the fabric of our country. I personally think this is much ado about nothing. The Block "A" is the logo that will be seen 90% of the time and is easily recognized and has brand appeal. I was in New York two weeks ago staying in the Plaza Hotel with my wife.
    A woman joined us on the elevator, saw my pullover with the Block A on it and said "App State, huh?" I'm not losing sleep about the SECONDARY logo nor the opinion of the writer of the article who writes from afar without perspective. My admonition to the writer is learn all the facts before you pick up your pen unless your desire is to present a jaded article with half truths.

  • Starla Hodges

    You have taste for crap. This logo is the coolest one on the
    planet. I believe that your position comes from a mindset of prejudice against
    the Mountain people of the Southern Appalachians.You are just an ignorant closed minded person. I believe that because you feel that a damn "Gordon's Fisherman"
    looking logo conveys the untamed spirit of a people that have been ridiculed
    against since these mountains were first settled. All you are doing is piling on. We have a rich proud history in these here hills of Western NC and that stupid
    Fisherman is an insult to all that have generations investments in these hills.
    I am a hillbilly and proud of it. We embrace all the cliché things that society
    has saddled us with over the decades. You know....... the corn cob pipe, black
    hat, whiskey jug, and long rifle. These were all forced into our culture by ignorant "Flat Landers" that always had a uninformed attitude of superiority when dealing with the mountain people, (I am third generation hillbilly and none of my family ever smoked a corn cob pipe or wore a black brimmed hat).

    Instead of being demoralized buy these symbols and permitting the outside society to use them as a weapon against us we embraced them and rallied around then as a sense of pride.
    This is much more than a simple logo change. It is us as a University and people expressing our pride in our culture and getting back in touch with the rich heritage of the mountains people. We have a saying around here...If you are lucky enough to be a mountaineer you are lucky enough. YOU AIN'T!

  • yosefland

    I disagree, Starla. Wouldn't you rather have a Yosef logo that looks like the profile of the Yosef statue on the App State campus? Seriously??

  • Polaris

    I was completely unaware of this logo update. And, after the initial perusal of the pictures accompanying this piece, I was indifferent to the logo update -- it evoked no response internally whatsoever.

    But as I read through the piece, and experienced the author's vehement emotional response to the logo update, I found myself warming to it more and more.

    By the end of the piece, I find myself wholeheartedly supporting this logo update. Anything that gets an author this butthurt is bound to be OK in my book.

  • Mark Smith

    Those who have talked about the marketing aspects of this have a point. I have been opposed to the now-old design since it was foisted upon us in 1999. I was then a 2-year alumnus of the school, and I hated this new design. I have to date, bought nothing with that logo on it -- I went out of my way to not. However, I will go out of my way to buy things with the Victory Yosef logo -- it is one that I, a Mountaineer, recognize and like.
    Now, keep in mind that the Block-A design with Mountaineers in cursive on the cross bar is still the primary logo. It's what's on the football helmets, on the flag I fly on my car on game days -- even though I live far from Boone.

  • John

    Mark, the redesign is devoid of good execution and good design. I realize you are trying to salvage the judgment of Appalachian with all of your comments, but that is not happening. There is little merit to be found in this logo change. It's a poor quality logo put in place for misguided reasons – that much is clear.

  • Brian_Piper

    Such horrible, committee-chosen garbage and I'm sure it was a relative who spit this garbage out somehow. My eyes hurt badly now and my heart aches for the design profession as a whole.