Changing the Face of College Football Logos: How Two Circles Can Change Mood, Purpose, and Meaning

With the college football season right around the corner, I couldn’t help but play around with some of college football’s most iconic logos. A couple visual communication theorists (see below) suggest that by adding simple shapes to designs, we humans inadvertently anthropmorphise (give human-like characteristics to non-human objects or shapes) designs into human faces. They also suggest how simple shapes can completely change the mood of a design. So what happens if we add simple circles to college football logos? This:

Comic book artist and visual communication theorist Scott McCloud mentions in his amazing book Understanding Comics that you can add a circle to almost any enclosed, curved abstract shape and we humans will see a face in it. Try it! Draw any weird, abstract shape and then draw a solid circle in it. Your brain will somehow morph (anthropomorphize, actually) the shape into something with a personality.

Scott McCloud, Shapes and Faces

Molly Bang, a children’s book author, also showed us how the simple change in a shape can completely change the look/feel of a character or scene. See in this image how the wolf goes from looking mean to stupid just by changing the shape of it’s eye from a diamond shape to a triangle.

Molly Bang, Wolf Face Change