March Madness: a Look into Logos and Visual Communication

By March 19, 2015 August 4th, 2020 Visual Communication, Visual Marketing Strategy

The time is upon us. All around the country basketball fans are eagerly placing bets and filling out their brackets. The heat behind old school rivalries, not to mention regional rivalries, is at an all-time high. Even though March Madness is primarily a sporting event, there’s something fun for everyone…  yes, even for design geeks.

Sports fans everywhere proudly show their support by wearing the colors of their favorite teams (talk about brand loyalty). But beyond the colors and the players, some of the most iconic messaging can be found in the team logo. From a marketing perspective, logos are important because they’re the face of your brand. But from a graphic design perspective, logos can play a crucial piece in the grand scheme of visual communication and information design.

Logos and icons create a simple way for the viewer to quickly and easily understand information without the use of excessive text. For sports teams, they can be used to create a sense of identity, providing subtle context on the school’s history and traditions.

Here’s a look at some school logo designs from the 2015 NCAA Division 1 bracket and what designers can learn from them:

Logo visual communicationUse compelling images that tell a story
West Virginia University’s logo is a bold illustration of their initials. The peaks of both the “W” and “V,” as well as the angular slant of the letters, help generate an image evocative of mountains. This was an intentional reference to the school’s mascot, a mountaineer. This use of typographic positioning to describe both the school’s name and mascot earns our seal of approval as our number 1 design.


vcu_2Don’t be afraid to take creative liberties
Incorporating creative elements into a design adds visual interest and helps convey meaning. The Virginia Commonwealth University logo augments the leftmost serif to suggest a noteworthy feature of the school’s mascot, a ram. By informing the viewer through a balance of text and visuals, this logo is a visually informative image that leaves a memorable impression.


logo visual communicationSometimes less is more
A simple design can go a long way. Compared to the other logos in the list, the University of Texas at Austin’s iconic longhorn steer is a basic image, but it’s an image rich with school heritage, culture, and history. Also, intentionally or not, the silhouette of the longhorn forms a stylized letter “T” to further suggest its connection to the state of Texas.


Below is our re-ordered list of the top 25 NCAA men’s basketball team logos, ranked according to the effectiveness of visual communication.



Eric Tra

Author Eric Tra

Eric Tra is the marketing director at Killer Visual Strategies. Originally from Spokane, Washington, Eric received degrees in marketing and fine art from Gonzaga University. After graduating, he moved to Seattle with the hopes of of pursuing a career in the city’s thriving tech community. Since earning a position at Killer Visual Strategies at the beginning of 2013, he has been at the forefront of all marketing activities within the company, including content strategy, lead generation, and social media management. Some of Eric’s other strengths in the office are geared toward internal project management; he currently leads the development of content pieces such as blog posts, ebooks, and more.

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