Temple University is sporting a new look.
While the iconic outlined “T” remains the same, the North Philly school on Tuesday revealed a new design for its athletics logo. The rendition of the owl mascot that appears on caps, shirts, and other college apparel is brand new.
This is not the first time that the school has promoted a change in identity. Five years ago, Temple unveiled a fake logo on April Fool’s Day and created quite the stir.
This time, however, it’s for real.
The new mark features a stylized owl with a fierce-looking stare and wings outstretched so they wrap upwards around the T. The whole thing is surrounded by a shield-shaped outline. It was created by alum Joe Bosack, who now runs a creative branding firm, in collaboration with graphic design students.
“What you’ll see in this logo is the diamond shape, an important symbol to Temple — a nod to the famous speech by Temple’s founder Russell Conwell,” Bosack said in a statement. “The other thing that you’ll see is that the Temple T is included. The T is clearly a profound symbol of this institution. It’s everywhere. It’s beyond just a logo at this point. It’s an icon of higher education in the city of Philadelphia and well beyond.”
Prior to the inception of the “T” during the school’s centennial celebration in 1984, the school’s logo was simply a seal that displayed an ancient building and the school’s name.
Founded in 1884 by Russell Conwell, the first students were referred to as “night owls” which began a relationship with the public university and the bird that has lasted well over a century. The owl has been featured prominently in some of the throwback logos seen in the video and is the official moniker of the school’s athletic teams.
Let’s take a look back at some of the iconic looks sported by the university as they appear in the teaser video the school put out in advance of the announcement.
The Winged Owl
For a split second at the :01 mark of the video, there is a flash of a former athlete wearing a lightly colored shirt with a darker, wings outstretched owl on their chest.
Given that Temple favored a close-winged look in the 30s and 40s before switching to block lettering in the 50s, this picture is quite dated. Likely one that predates any realm of collegiate athletics that we recognize today.
The Cross Legged Owl
The second unique caricature to appear is an owl with a dark long sleeve on that has a Temple “T” on its shirt.
The Owl at the Podium
Who better to give the graduation speech than an owl?
This logo appears to depict exactly that. Dating this one is one of the more difficult ones of all shown in the video, but it’s even harder to figure out who is responsible for this photo.
An early day school-produced promo for graduation or a student’s cartoon that was used in a student publication?
The Stern Owl
Frankly, there is little to discern this owl to the ones that came both before and after it.
The print of it gives the thought that it is an older logo, but it could be slapped on a t-shirt and handed out during welcome week without any questions asked.
The 1938-39 Owl
There is no necessarily unique quality about this logo except for the fact that it dates itself with the year that it appeared in the school’s yearbook.
The logo itself was one of “The Handbook” which was a handy student-driven book on all things Temple, guiding students on everyday life at the university and other handy things they needed to know.
As described by the school’s 1938-39 yearbook:
“The main purpose of the Handbook is to aid the green Freshman in orienting himself. It costs fifteen cents, is sold at Registration, and everybody buys one.
This year, besides the regular information about the University, a map “Highways to Temple” was included, a page called “Campus Vernacular” which explained the Temple campus language to incoming students was a highlight, and a PRT map of the city was thrown in for good measure.”
The 1936-37 Owl
Not unlike the Owl that preceded it in the video, there was another quality handbook logo.
This one played more to the “T” in Temple and was a solid precursor to the more recognizable Temple logos.
The Powerful Owl
Despite not appearing so in the video, the Owl on the stand with ribbon coming from where it stood (visible at the :04 mark) was a piece of a cool look in some early 20th century Temple yearbooks.
The Owl is seen on the top of pages in those yearbooks with the ribbons outstretched to posts that resemble ancient architecture along the sides of the pages. At the top of these pages it reads “The Templar” for the student yearbook’s namesake and then “Temple University” was similarly displayed at the bottom.
The Owl Outline & ‘T’ Tattoo
In what appears to be a white “T” on the body of an Owl, this look has been replicated most recently by the Temple Men’s Basketball program.
It’s a very simple look and makes for a great look on a sweatshirt.
The Evil Owl
Hard to describe this one as anything other than evil.
The look has a feel of a batman logo, starring the white owl enclosed by a circle on a black background.
The Owl Face
Predating the current face of the Owls, this looks like a sketch for the eventual “Icon Owl” that is mentioned below.
The 60’s Owl
Notably used as a logo for athletics in the latter portion of the 60s, this owl logo is one of the more iconic retro looks for a Temple wardrobe.
Seen in the video at the :05 mark, there are a number of secondary sites that sell merchandise and clothes with the logo that feature the retro owl.
The logo itself also still has a place as a variation of today’s Owl Club logo.
The Band Logo
As seen in the 1940 yearbook, this iteration of Temple’s marching band featured a drum with the school’s owl giving you a little side eye.
The 1940 yearbook gave the band highmarks for their welcome ceremony for new Temple Football coach Ray Morrison.
He, unfortunately, only recorded two winning seasons in nine years at the helm.
The Eagle Owl?
Birds of a feather fly together, right?
This owl logo looks like an owl version of a retro Philadelphia Eagles logo.
While it doesn’t represent the exact look of the 1970s that athletics wore, this is a close representation.
The TU Owl?
Given that it appears right before the logo that appears to be representing baseball and softball, this could be an attempt at a basketball-centric logo.
The U looks like the bottom of a net when connected with the T.
The Baseball/Softball Logo
This one tugs at the heartstrings, as both the baseball and softball programs have been eliminated at Temple.
Some of the club teams may want to consider the uniform choice of an owl on a bat across the jerseys, a rather impressive look design style.
The Watchful Owl
Appearing like an owl in front of the moon, this is likely not a commonly used logo throughout history.
This, like “The Powerful Owl” before it, was likely a piece of official outline on a yearbook.
The Cranky Owl
Nice hat, clear facial expression.
This is obviously the work of university officials, trying to use the owl for a little change of pace in athletics and for wider range use on university student publications.
The Background Owl
Similar to owls gone by, this one only serves to be printed on a page about something else.
An academic look with the scroll in front of it, the owl is a reminder of Temple in a logo likely for something much more specific.
The Owl and the Monkey
Appearing as a part of the 1928-29 yearbook, this look raises a number of questions.
Most certainly the work of a student, there is no direct historical tie between a monkey and the Temple logo so this one is a bit of a mystery.
Owl on the Branch
Featured on the outline of pages in the yearbook from the late 20s into the early 30s, this relaxed Owl sat on the branch and the top of pages.
Nothing fancy to it, just in the early days of its cherry red coloring (this logo is lighter than the modern day cherry) and reminding student of the school’s mascot on every page.
Owl on the Books
This one screams of an early 20th century print to cover up space on a yearbook page.
Slanted, close-winged and staring into your soul.
The Cover Owl
This small owl graced the cover of the 1928 Templar yearbook.
While it is not known for certain whether it was the first owl to make the cover of Temple’s student-run yearbook, it broke the trend of the school’s logo appearing on the front of the book.
This trend setting owl likely opened the door for many of the later owl iterations.
The Icon Owl
If you put a lineup of owl logos for people to choose from, this is the most recognizable for people.
Go to your local sporting goods store and they have stickers with this logo. Attend Temple for a semester and you’ll receive no less than three free t-shirts with this logo. It’s not the school’s official logo, but it may as well represent the school just as much.
The Cartoon Owls
Three of the final eight logos are cartoon drawings, likely appearing in a combination of the yearbook or Temple’s “The Owl” which was a magazine publication by students back in the day.
While no longer in circulation, it offers a glimpse into another era of student life.
The Handbook Stragglers
Mentioned earlier on, Temple used to have a student-produced book for freshmen and a few of its yearly logos made this list.
It appears that in the video’s final eight logos, three of them belong to a specific year. 1940-41, 1942-43 and 1947 all get their chance to shine. On top of that, the outstretched Owl with the T sitting in front of it at the 0:11 mark gives off the vibe of another potential handbook logo.
The Blurry Athlete
Potentially a track athlete, definitely an early 20th century owl logo.
If we’ve learned anything from this rebrand, they exhausted every opportunity to hit the archives and pull logos from before 1950.