Penn State has used the Nittany Lion mascot since 1906 and the way the university and the athletics programs have been visually represented has changed gradually through the years. Looking back Penn State has had various logos throughout the years, some better than others. In this day and age where marketing your program is more important than ever, let's take a look back to some of the most significant logos in Penn State history. The current logos and their proper usage can be found from a University website here. Be sure to vote on your favorite in the poll at the bottom of the page.
Athletics (Chipmunk) Logo
Penn State's national football championship in 1982 gave the University unprecedented press coverage and attention from national audiences. In response to the demand for Penn State clothing and other memorabilia featuring a sports emblem, the Intercollegiate Athletics logo (lion) was commissioned in 1983. When the University mark (shield) was adopted in 1987 as the overarching logo for the University, the decision was made to retain the Intercollegiate Athletics logo as the representative symbol for sports and athletics. It is important to note the Athletics logo is not interchangeable with the University mark and is not used to represent nonathletic programs.
The Intercollegiate Athletics logo is composed of the athletics symbol-a stylized rendition of the Nittany Lion head in an oval frame, and the athletics logotype, "PENN STATE." There are two standard configurations of the Athletics logo. No other configurations of the logo are acceptable. All reproductions should be made from good, quality master artwork or files. The logo may be reduced or enlarged as needed but the elements may not be changed or rearranged.
I was not able to locate the origin of this specific design, but personally it is one of my favorites. The "S" obviously represents State and the blue keystone is a symbol of our commonwealth's history. In general a keystone is an architecture term describing the middle wedge-shaped stone in an arch. There are many stories about how Pennsylvania got the nickname, The Keystone State, although they all come back to the central theme of the state's importance based on its location, economics and politics.
Penn State University Seal
The seal has been in existence in one form or another since the founding of the University. The current version was introduced in 1953 and features the crest of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania surrounded by the name of the University. It bears a striking resemblance to the seals of many other state agencies, including the State System of Higher Education, which is one reason it does not serve as the University's logo. Since implementation of the University mark in 1987, the seal has served primarily as an official stamp of validation-similar to a notary's stamp-on official documents such as contracts and diplomas.
Some versions of the University seal feature a fluted edge. However, the current version with a clean, smooth edge is preferred. The same artwork is used for both positive and reverse reproductions.
Penn State University Mark - Corporate Logo
Based off the depiction of the 1942 statue that was donated by the 1940 graduating class
Heinz Warneke (noted german sculptor), the crouching, powerful figure is now the popular Nittany Lion shrine, located at Penn State's University Park Campus on a grassy mound amid tall trees near Recreation Building.
The heart of the identity system is our corporate logo-the University mark. The mark combines a logotype "PennState" with a shield that features the University's founding date and most recognizable symbol-the Nittany Lion. The logotype and shield are connected by a rule which underscores the word "State."
The shield was designed to convey a sense of the University's history and long-standing commitment to academic excellence. The shield shape itself evokes the heraldic tradition of other well-established universities such as Princeton and Harvard. The founding date "1855" communicates Penn State's long academic tradition. The Nittany Lion image, a replica of the original statue, carries through as the universal symbol for all Penn State audiences. The net effect is a mark that is modern and historic, stately and academic, yet distinctive to Penn State's character.
The Nittany Lion has been a symbol for Penn State since 1907. The most universally known and recognizable image is that of the Nittany Lion statue, which was sculpted by Heinz Warneke in 1942 as a gift from the class of 1940. It is also can be displayed in a way that incorporates the names of branch campuses.
"Pozniak Lion" / Penn State Lion Ambassadors Logo
Raymond Pozniak was a devoted Penn State alumnus who after graduation combined his job as a freelance graphic designer with his love for the university to create one of Penn State's earliest logos.
The "Pozniak Lion", which at one point was used as one of the university's symbols, is the front-on view of a lion's face. A thick line of Penn State blue can be outlining the shape and contrasting against the white background.
The Pozniak lion was recognized as one of the university logos in the 1970s and 1980s, university spokesman Geoff Rushton said. The symbol was phased out when the organized logo system was created for the university in 1987. Currently, the "Pozniak Lion" is used by the Penn State Lion Ambassadors, the student corps in the Penn State Alumni Association, as well as affiliation with the University Ice Hockey teams.
"Penn State" Script logo, stencil
When used, it is usually in conjunction with the "Chipmunk" logo. I had a difficult time finding much information about the history of the script but 1962 was when the logo started to appear. It was later decommissioned for athletics use during the Guido D'Ella era in 2000.
Nittany Lion Mascot Caricatures
Nittany Lion mascot caricatures often are popular and find their way into various materials. These images are reserved almost exclusively for athletics, alumni, or student event materials, and are not allowed to be associated with academic programs and departments.
An approved caricature of the Nittany Lion mascot is available in numerous poses. Additional poses can be commissioned at a cost of $250 per pose, which is paid by the unit requesting the pose. Any new pose that is created then becomes part of the overall collection and is available to the entire University.
Used from 2001-2004, was this atrocity a result of the Dark Years? Let's just go ahead and say yes.
Nittany Lion Statue
The Nittany Lion is a legendary Pennsylvania mountain lion that once roamed Mount Nittany, and the valleys of central Pennsylvania that eventually became the birthplace of The Pennsylvania State University. Shortly after the turn of the century, the Nittany Lion began to represent the athletic spirit of the University. Its popularity as a University symbol grew, and the class of 1940 commissioned a sculpture of the Nittany Lion as a gift to the University. The statue, sculpted by Heinz Warneke, was completed in 1942 and placed next to Recreation Hall. Today, this image of the Lion is considered to be the most universally recognized symbol of the University, and it is represented in both the University mark and the Intercollegiate Athletics logo.
Line drawings of both the full-bodied view of the statue and three-quarter view of the statue's head have been standardized as "classic" Nittany Lion artwork. Generally, this artwork is most appropriate for use in sports or alumni materials.
Paw Print Symbol
The use of the paw print symbol is reserved almost exclusively for athletics and athletic-related events. Officially, versions are limited to the colors of black, white, blue, and gray.
This logo is also subject to much debate. There are two different versions, four-toed (officially sanctioned by the university) and the five-toed logo. The paw has been changed twice since 1988, each time to add or subtract a toe. Penn State's original icon was a four-toed paw print. In the 1988 Capital One Bowl, the Nittany Lions took on the Clemson Tigers and realized they had the same symbol. After that, the university supposedly made a legal agreement to change the paw, and added a toe to separate Penn State from other teams.
The University Licensing Committee started looking into the matter and found there wasn't any legal agreement binding Penn State to the four-toe. In 2006 the paw print was changed from five toes to four to reflect an anatomically correct animal. An actual mountain lion footprint was used for the toes and then the heel was removed and replaced with a new design based on the Intercollegiate Athletics logo of the Nittany Lion. Thus making it somewhat different than the traditional four-toed logo that is used by hundreds of schools throughout the country.