brand wars

UM is on the brink of a rebrand and will soon unveil its new colors, fonts and graphics. The Kaimin has seen the look — and we’re a house divided.


The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “There is nothing permanent except change.” The man had a weird name, but a good point. 

The wheel of change has turned once more, and UM has decided ol’-fashioned Griz Maroon can’t keep carrying the brand on its back anymore. Now it’s got company in the form of Sunset Red, Sugar Maple, Wheat, Trail Sign Tan, Lubrecht Green, Glacier Sky and — certainly not to be left out — Silver.

The University held its “brand camp” on April 20, unveiling the colors, graphics and fonts that will usher UM into the modern age. 

And, you know what? I’m all in. UM’s newest rebranding is coming at a time of exciting change on campus: more students, new facilities, and now — new colors!

While the indomitable Griz Maroon isn’t going anywhere, its new friends will draw on other distinctly Montana shades to spice things up. Sugar Maple evokes the copper-colored glory of UM’s original colors, while Wheat and Trail Sign Tan ground us in the Treasure State’s mountains and prairies. Lubrecht Green is an excellent shoutout to the primary shade of the College of Forestry’s experimental woodland 30 miles east of Missoula — a true local gem.

But then… Silver. Sure, the new branding clarifies the color as “Glacier Sky with a directional gradient feather,” but does that really do it justice? 

My more Montana-faithful suggestion (free of charge): Snowbowl Silver.

You’re welcome, UM.

— Austin Amestoy, Audio Editor



The rebrand color palette is an eyesore. 

The previous palette of maroon, silver and white was limiting. I can see how UM’s liberal use of maroon has led to this rebranding, but swinging hard in the opposite direction is not the right move. 

Who in their right mind puts two sets of complementary colors in one color scheme? Complementary colors create the strongest contrast. The colors should enhance each other without competing.

The maroon, green and blue work well together, especially with Sugar Maple as an accent color. But that Sunset Red visually screams.

If UM wanted to marry the retro colors with the current maroon and silver scheme, why did it make the copper so garish? The University should have put more effort into properly honoring its own design history rather than brainstorming hokey color names that attempt to encompass Montana in the same haphazard hodgepodge as the state seal.

The other colors in UM’s rebranding are fairly subdued, with the Sugar Maple and Sunset Red being the most saturated in the palette. However, the Sunset Red is too warm and vibrant to go with these colors. 

The “always parallel, never perpendicular” Clark Fork Waves may invoke the ’70s, but UM should return Sunset Red to the past and replace it with Retro Copper (#B7410E).

The ’70s called. They want their design back.

— MaKayla O’Neil, Design Editor