In honor of last week’s Ohio State  - Michigan game (You can take the boy out of the midwest, but you can’t take the midwest out of the boy. — Ed.), here’s one of my favorite examples of negative space.

The backstory:

In the early years of last century, when football helmets were like gloves for the head, ten midwestern universities got together to form an athletic conference. They called it the Big Ten — and the conference became an athletic powerhouse and one of the marquee brands in American sport.

IMG_0454In 1990, the ten schools decided to add Penn State University to the conference — which they eventually realized created a conundrum: The Big Ten now had eleven teams.  (I hear it was the Northwestern rep who figured out the math. — Ed.)

I suppose they thought about renaming the conference the Big Eleven. But since that sounds like a convenience store, they devised a more ingenious solution: Keep the name, which is iconic, but include the idea of “11″ in the logo.  You can see the result in the above photograph, which I snapped last month at the Big Ten store in the Columbus airport.

5 Responses to “This one goes to eleven”

  1. Great eye Dan.

    A complex situation, with endless ramifications, has been resoled in form of an elegant approach that conveys mutual respect between left and right brain processing, between business and design, between the conscious and the subconscious. (The “11” reminds me of the arrows in the Fedex logo.)

  2. Sachit Gupta says:

    Clever Design :P! There’s some other great examples here: http://www.logodesignlove.com/negative-space-logo-design

  3. Erin Young says:

    I believe it was a PSU alum who came up with the design.

    Erin (Another PSU alum)

  4. Wendee says:

    You wear that purple … very well. ;-)

  5. Sean says:

    Dan – I have come to refer to it as The Big Televen

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