Redhead Design Studio

Michigan State University Alumni Office

Brand Development, Content Strategy
Preserving the status of a nationally-renowned mascot while creating a unique tone of voice.

Developing a multi-purpose brand book

As Michigan State University's beloved mascot Sparty entered his 30th year, the MSU Alumni Office approached us to update his branding guidelines. Sparty has a fearless, lovable persona recognized throughout the state and country, and as such, we determined the new brand book needed to serve a dual purpose: first, preserve Sparty's status as one of the most recognized and popular mascots in the nation, and second, articulate Sparty's tone of voice.

Finding the perfect voice

What better way to learn brand rules than from Sparty in his own voice? (A question we had trouble answering.) In order to craft a first-person brand book, we devoted time to research, conceptualization, and drafting the right tone. The result was casual and welcoming; prideful and cartoonish; and timeless, with tongue-in-cheek humor. Thus, Sparty's voice was born, and the first-person language of the brand book became a case in point of Sparty's holistic identity.

Fortifying an illustrious brand

To apply Sparty's first-person point of view, we took the existing framework of a technical brand book and gave it a Sparty twist, cheeky comments and all. Sparty prohibits use of former mascot costume images because "not everyone likes looking through old photos." Using this tone of voice, we expanded the Sparty brand in follow-up projects including an activity book and greeting cards. Sparty's tone not only made the brand book and its subsequent materials more engaging, but allow his big boisterous personality to shine through in a variety of mediums. Now, along with his renowned visual identity, Sparty is unmistakeable in the written form.