Warrior: Branding Committee Creates a New Standardized Logo for West
Following months of committee deliberation and professional design guidance, Maine West is welcoming in a brand new face. Effective immediately, West has an updated warrior logo. Aiming to standardize the mascot and give the school a design that will be recognizable and personal, staff members put together a branding committee to work with a graphic artist in designing a logo meant to replace the varia tions of the warrior image used by clubs and teams throughout the school.
“[The committee] got together early in the year to talk about all the different warrior logos that are out there,” assistant principal for students John Aldworth said. “There are different heads, arrows, and shields being used. There’s different lettering and all kinds of clip art. People were making up their own [logos]. [Our] purpose was to get some lettering and a logo out there that really says ‘Maine West’—whenever anyone sees it they think, ‘that’s Maine West, that’s their logo.’”
Between the colors and the design, students are finding things to like. “The logo change was a good idea,” junior Brett Patterson, who performs as the Warrior, said. “It unifies the school.”
The previous font used for the “MW” lettering displayed on many of the school’s shirts, jerseys, and spiritwear was borrowed from the University of Minnesota. With the branding committee having commissioned a graphic artist to create new lettering designed specifically for the school, Maine West will officially have a design to call its own.
“I’d like [the new design] on a uniform—it looks cool, but I also think the face doesn’t look as serious as the old one,” senior Meghan Kalinowski said. “The logo we had before had the full headdress and the full look of a Native American chief. Now, it seems to give less respect to the old warrior we had, and I feel like that’s a bit disrespectful to the tribes we represent.”
One major issue the school faced when it came down to the use of warrior logos was the recurrent use of images found online. Rather than designing images of a warrior chief from scratch, many students find images online to use for club shirts and posters.
“Everybody was Googling ‘warrior’ or ‘chief’ and then putting that in as their logo,” athletic director Jarett Kirshner said. “There are some copyright issues related to that. We could be borrowing something that is intellectual property of another organization or school, so by starting the branding process, we get something that belongs to us and exists nowhere else.”
Although Maine West is implementing a new standard logo, this does not imply the end of all customization and design for t-shirts and posters. The design includes banner space underneath the lettering meant for students to personalize with activity names or slogans. Students will continue to be encouraged to customize their own designs using the new lettering.
Recent controversies and outpourings of complaints surrounding the use of Native Americans as mascots in sports and popular culture may lead many to wonder why Maine West has yet to adopt a different mascot. It has been argued that using Native Americans as team mascots promotes negative stereotypes and contributes to the disregard of na tives as people.
“[The new logo] is turning a person into a de sign,” senior Izabella Lach said. “It looks too much like a character. We didn’t disrespect the mascot, so I don’t understand why we’d have to change the look of it.”
While professional sports teams and universities around the country are being pressured to replace their mascots, including the retiring of University of Illinois’ Chief Illiniwek and Des Plaines’ local Algonquin Middle School changing its mascot to the Algonquin Thunder, Maine West sees no such future ahead. The school was recognized by the Native Americans of the Cherokee Nation in 1993 for depicting the warrior mascot in a dignified manner.
“We have a letter of recognition from the Cherokee Nation which explains how the Native Americans gave us permission to keep our mascot because of how we treat our warrior with such respect,” Adapted and Adventure Education teacher Maureen Moeller said. “More recently, we have had contact with the Native American elders through our Adventure Education program, and they have come numerous times to school and have also granted us permission because of how we hold the Native Americans so respectfully at this school. You will never see our mascot running around and sitting in the stands. He comes out, does his dance, and he goes.” Faculty see a distinction in the image as well as the language used for the mascot.
“There is a difference between teams having their mascot as an ‘Indian’ or ‘Redskin’ versus ‘Warrior.’ I see a vast difference in those names,” Kirshner add ed. “We’re in cooperation with the tribes, we have a letter [confirming that we respect the tribes], and it’s something that Dr. Haugan takes very seriously. The use of tomahawks and weapons as logos—those are all things that we’re not doing. We wave towels instead of doing the ‘tomahawk chop.’ We’re always trying to be as respectful as we can.”
Regardless of its reception, West’s new standardized logo is here to stay. Current and incoming students alike now have a new icon to represent them.
“The drive right now is not to replace what we have, but to move forward with the new version,” Aldworth said. “We have a proud tradition here at Maine West, and we don’t want to forget that.”