Oranges and Oranges

Well, the basketball team at Mercer University managed the unthinkable and defeated Duke’s Blue Devils to create March Madness, Macon-style. Since the next face-off will pit the MU Bears against the UT Vols, I am considering this a “teachable moment” as a graphic design educator. [Note: please take the following “color commentary”—get it?—with tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek].

The tournament game scheduled for Sunday will essentially be about which school has the better team color. Since both happen to include some hue of orange, the average viewer may fret about visual confusion in the play-by-play. Take heart, compadres: allow me to break it down for you….

According to my research, both MU and UT have “graphic standards” which establish the specifications for their respective logos or lettermarks. Should you be interested in reading about all of these standards, check out their links:

http://marcomm.mercer.edu/standards/graphics/color/

http://communications.utk.edu/branding/palette.php#palette

MU-PMS-specs UT-PMS-specsThe basic breakdown is this: Mercer’s orange is Pantone 158; Tennessee’s is Pantone 151. In an ironic coincidence, these numbers represent the same amount of points by which the Bears defeated the Devils. The MU orange appears bolder, more saturated than UT’s. Thus, one may naturally conclude that Mercer has the upper hand in both their look and feel.

But, what of each school’s mascot? Obviously, Mercer opted for the ubiquitous ursine imagery, whereas UT deferred to graphically manipulating the “crossbars” of the U and the T to become the shape of the Volunteer State [minus their howling mascot, “Smokey” the coon hound]. Again, I hate to point out the obvious analogy here, but who’s going to win in a fight between a grizzly and a dog who wears a fancy neckerchief [which makes him somewhat of a dandy among canines] ?spirit mark_mercer_work4 UTWorkmarksALL

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I grew up in Tennessee and remain fiercely loyal to my home state. But now I find myself in an interesting conundrum: on the faculty of Mercer U and a transplant [once again] to Georgia. I don’t wish to disparage the Volunteers, nor “pish-posh” their ability on the court. However, as the author of the USA TODAY piece wrote about Friday’s game, “Duke has struggled to defend the paint all season…” Ruiz continues: “The score was close coming down the stretch, but Mercer dominated this game. The Bears shot 55.6 percent from the field, while Duke shot just 34.4 percent. If it weren’t for the Blue Devil’s 15 3-point makes and 16 offensive rebounds, the game would have been a laugher.”

So, to conclude this post…I will simply argue that the logic of simple color theory prevails in our anticipation of the next round of college basketball. That is, the value of  MU’s orange will prevail over that of UT. Orange you glad to be informed? Perhaps that’s all the hues that’s fit to print!

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