Separated by 800 miles and 2,900 vertical feet, Denver and Boise are both capital cities with a Wild West heritage nestled along the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Both cities are home to their beloved football teams, the Broncos. Fans in both cities don blue and orange to show their passion year round.
Breaking Away From the Herd
With multiple trips to the Super Bowl, Denver is known nationally and internationally. Boise State hasn’t won any national championships, but in the 1980s they became the team with the notorious blue field. Boise State’s use of the color blue has set them apart from the Denver Broncos and other football teams. Today, Boise State owns the patent on colored football fields, preventing any teams (high schools, colleges, and the NFL) from installing a non-traditional field without their legal consent.
Colors and Markings
The Broncos have been blue and orange for more than eight decades, while Denver has made noticeable color changes on a few occasions.
Initially the Denver Broncos were yellow and brown, then moved to orange and blue, and then later replaced their primary color of orange to navy blue. It’s rumored that in 1962 Denver’s jerseys were supposed to be “Texas orange” but arrived as “Tennessee orange.” (As a graphic designer at The University of Texas at Austin, I understand the complexity of working with burnt orange.)
Both team’s logos feature a horse’s side profile.
The Denver logo features a white horse with a fiery orange mane. The horse’s facial features seem unbalanced as the face and muzzle are angular, while the mane very wavy. The shape of the mouth and the flatness of the ears, along with the pronounced orange iris, make the Bronco look like a dragon, not a horse. The logo says wild, aggressive, and fearless.
Boise State: 2002-present
Designer: North Charles Street Design Company
Initially the Boise State logo seems like a modified interpretation of Denver’s logo, but after further review seems to compliment their 1955 logo. Again, Boise State uses blue as a primary color, followed by orange as a secondary. The shapes of the eyes, muzzle, and ear are proportionate and the style is consistent. The orange shading of the face gives this 2D image depth perception. This logo portrays quickness, agility, and strength.
Boise State: 1955-unknown
In 1955, Pi Sigma Sigma introduced a logo to the school, which was used by students and Boise State athletics. The flat head and ears of the design look similar to Denver’s current logo, while the curve of the neck and mane emulate Boise State’s current logo.
Helmet to Helmet
The contrast of Denver’s logo against their navy helmets provides greater visibility than Boise State’s. However, the simplicity of the Broncos logo and prominence of the color blue create a clean design. The curvature of Boise State’s logo wraps around the helmet and allows the size of the Bronco to be increased. Additionally, the logo works well in a variety of color variations, including a two-color logo for special occasions.
While Boise State may struggle for the national spotlight, their use of color and strong design is helping them stand apart.
Albertson’s Library Digital Collection: http://digital.boisestate.edu/cdm/ref/collection/archives/id/2183
Boise State Brand Guidelines: https://brandstandards.boisestate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/boisestate-colorguide.pdf
Boise State Bronco Branding: http://albertsonslibrary.blogspot.com/2012/09/special-collections-bronco-branding.html
Boise State University: Digital Archives
PDF – The Arbiter, April 8, 2002 “New Logo Unveiled”
Endzone Sports Charities: http://endzonesportscharities.org/detail.htm
Endzone Sports Charities: http://endzonesportscharities.org/PDFs/Uni_1962.pdf
Sports Team History: http://sportsteamhistory.com/denver-broncos-logo-history