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The Bold Sun Devils Gambit: New Uniforms, New Identity, New National Appeal?

The new look of Sun Devils athletics. Photo courtesy of ASU.
The new look of Sun Devils athletics. Photo courtesy of ASU.

Arizona State University unleashed their new identity on April 12, 2011, creating an emphasis on the Sun Devil pitchfork while seamlessly blending black into the color scheme of the country's biggest state university.

It was a bold move for a school that has tremendous potential as a brand. When you factor in the appeal of living in Tempe (weather, women, weather), it makes a lot of sense for a school like ASU to be a presence on the national sports stage on a consistent basis.

When you consider how logical it is, that's what makes the reality all the more baffling -- despite the benefits of being a Sun Devil, for some reason ASU has lacked a national appeal. Perhaps it has to do with the inconsistent performance of the football team, or the inability of the basketball team to find success in the shadow of the University of Arizona.

Whatever the reason, Sparky-laden merchandise and memorabilia, while coveted by Sun Devils, were not selling like hotcakes across the land. Something about a Disney cartoon didn't resonate... what are the odds?

In the wake of the uniform upgrade, the ASU softball team made a historic run to win the Women's College World Series, and ESPN featured the new pitchfork prominently during the broadcasts. Similarly, when the ASU baseball team was playing Texas in the Super Regional, the pitchfork was exposed to a whole new audience.

These might seem like minor details to the casual observer, but the pitchfork is a bold new frontier for a school that had previously lacked the initiative. Should the Sun Devils impress on the gridiron this fall, this gambit will have paid off tenfold in merchandise sales, product recognition, and public awareness. 

After years of being a sleeping giant, that's a risk that the Sun Devils were wise to take.