Logos are incredibly important. There's a reason why companies and schools spend thousands, if not millions, on branding. An effective logo is clean, creative, and instantly recognizable as representing a specific entity. In college football, throw diehard fans into the equation, and a good logo can make someone swell with pride, while a bad one will be mocked and complained about for years.
We've gone through every power conference college program, along with independents Notre Dame and BYU, and ranked their primary logos. Obviously, this is a bit subjective, but the teams at the top of our list have logos that are attractive, iconic, and make us immediately think of the teams they represent.
(Each logo is shared via sportslogos.net.)
Oregon State - The Beavers changed their logo a few years ago, and clearly, we aren't fans. It isn't hard to see why.
Wake Forest - For a program that struggles so much, you'd think they'd at least try to stand out a bit.
Northwestern - The font for the block "N" is weird, as is the fact that it appears the Wildcat is sticking its head through one of the slits.
South Carolina - There isn't much intimidating about a flustered rooster trapped in an almost-enclosed block letter.
Vanderbilt - Nothing against Vandy or the star concept, it just doesn't stand out much. Incorporating the anchor would be a nice touch.
Boston College - If the Eagle and the BC letters weren't so similarly-colored, it wouldn't be this low. You have to squint to see it's a bird. Boston College actually has another version with gold lettering - it works better.
Arizona State - The pitchfork concept is fine, but if you aren't an ASU fan, it's probably tough to tell which school it represents. Meh.
Pittsburgh - Pitt's color scheme isn't fantastic, but still, it could probably come up with a better-looking logo. At least it's obvious which school it is.
Oklahoma State - We get why Pistol Pete can't be the school's primary logo, but it would certainly be more interesting than what it currently has.
NC State - The "N" and the "C" don't naturally fit into the slits in the "S", yet they're there anyway. Could be better.
Syracuse - Clean? Yes. Boring? Also yes. SU is now the Orange, so it doesn't have the options it used to, when the teams went by "Orangemen" and "Orangewomen."
Duke - Like many of the others ranked around here, the block letter is clean, but it is fairly boring. There is an alternate version that features the Blue Devil mascot in the middle, which is a bit busy. Not a bad look, but hard to strike a balance here for Duke.
Virginia Tech - Simple, with a nice combination of the school's colors. Doesn't incorporate school's team name though.
Maryland - The Terps do all they can to include the state flag in their designs. But it might look better in the actual "M" than above it.
Rutgers - For whatever reason, a number of Big Ten teams just feature a block letter as their primary logo. Rutgers is one.
Wisconsin - Wisconsin is another. Though the Badgers at least have their block letter logo on a different angle.
Illinois - Throw Illinois in that group too. Simple, but unexciting.
Baylor - Baylor's color scheme is great. It's logo is fine too, but it would cool if it made it more obvious which school it was. It isn't the only BU out there.
Purdue - The block "P" works, but we long for the old logo, which featured the Boilermaker Special.
Texas Tech - The Red Raiders have had some great alternate uniforms over the past few years. There isn't much to the team's primary logo, though.
Iowa State - No Cyclone, no high ranking. Leaves a great deal to be desired.
Washington State - They found an interesting way to incorporate a Cougar into the letters associated with the program, but it's almost too confusing.
Kentucky - At this point, Kentucky and UK are synonymous, so it won't be changing. But it's not the most original logo out there.
Mississippi State - The banner across the "M" makes it slightly different than some of the similar logos. MSU has always had a rough color combo.
Arizona - One of the rare schools that focuses on the first letter of their state and utilizes the program's entire color scheme.
Indiana - Indiana's logo isn't mind-blowing, but it is identifiable when you see it. It's better than just side-by-side block lettering.
Virginia - UVA, contrary to popular belief, is the Cavaliers, not the Wahoos. The school's logo does a nice job making that clear.
Missouri - Missouri has one of the more attractive Tiger logos out there, though we do wish they could somehow incorporate "Mizzou" into it.
Colorado - Colorado is in the midst of its worst football era ever, but the team's logo is still pretty cool. Extra points for the white buffalo horn.
West Virginia - WVU's logo has been around for over three decades, but it still looks relatively fresh. Definitely better than most schools that only use letters.
Auburn - The rest of Auburn's logos focus on the school's Tiger mascot. We think the primary "AU" graphic gets the job done, however.
LSU - After a number of logos utilizing the Tiger mascot, LSU's primary one now focuses only on the school's letters. It could be pretty bland, but purple and gold looks fantastic, and the font is pretty unique and interesting.
Stanford - Stanford's tree mascot is not official, but it is one of the first things you think of when it comes to the school's athletics. Adding the tree here helps spice up one of the nation's many 'block S' logos.
Nebraska - Nebraska’s “N” is classic and strong, and one of the best of the basic block-letter logos, but it leaves something to be desired in the creative department.
Oklahoma - The interlocking “OU” works well and, like Nebraska’s “N,” is a classic, but if we could change one thing, the letters wouldn’t be so skinny.
Utah - This is one of the most-creative logos on the list – we dig the feathers. The black-outlined white circle with the red “U” in the middle looks a little too ClipArt, though.
Minnesota - The color scheme is strong – the gold outline on the "M" works really, really well. It looks an upside-down W, but we’re still fans.
Louisville - This might be a little too low for the Cardinal, which is one of the fiercest-looking logos in the country. Big fan of the color scheme, too.
Florida State - While putting a Seminole face in a circle seems a little weird – why not just go with a Seminole face on its own – it still works well. Garnet and gold is as good as color schemes get.
North Carolina - We said we wished Oklahoma’s “OU” logo was a little thicker. North Carolina’s interlocking “NC” is not lacking in the thickness department, which is why it works better.
Washington - The font is a bit weird, but the big block 'W' is a clean look, and the purple color with gold lining works well.
USC - Simple, and undeniably iconic, especially for those of us who grew up with USC's dominant football teams of the 2000's.
Oregon - A surprisingly basic logo for the school that prides itself on unique looks. Works well with the many jersey concepts, though.
TCU - TCU has one of the more unique mascots in the country (Horned Frogs), but unfortunately, the school took it out of the primary mark a few years ago. It now stands as its own athletics-only alternate logo. The purple look is still cool, though.
Michigan - The block 'M' is instantly identifiable as Michigan. That strong branding is important for school logos.
Kansas - Admittedly, it is a bit goofy, but you can't knock Kansas for not being unique with the Jayhawk logo. Those shoes...
Tennessee - No one else has that shade of orange, and the block 'T' is always a strong-looking letter for a logo.
Georgia Tech - Georgia Tech’s distinctive and sharp wasp logo fits its Yellow Jacket nickname. It’s one of the most easily identifiable ones in college athletics.
Michigan State - Again, like Georgia Tech’s, Michigan State’s logo is unique. The Spartan warrior silhouette is subtle, yet classy.
BYU - With the elongated football shape and irregular-looking Y, there’s a cartoonish nature to the BYU logo. It looks good though.
Ole Miss - The script “Ole Miss” looks flat-out awesome on helmets, and that’s a major reason why it ranks so high.
Iowa - When you see the Iowa Hawkeye, you immediately conjure up images of crisp fall Midwestern Saturdays and Big Ten tradition. The black and gold colorway is sharp as well.
Kansas State - The Wildcat logo is pretty fierce. Kansas State leaves Kentucky in the dust when it comes to ranking logos of schools with the Wildcat nickname.
Texas A&M - The classic A&M logo fits well with the program’s rich football tradition. Not everyone agrees with the beveled look, though.
Arkansas - There are enough U of A's around the country, and Arkansas' decision to feature the Razorback is a great one. It looks pretty fierce too.
Penn State - The blue and white color scheme is classic and looks great, and the Nittany Lion always looks regal.
Georgia - Georgia's logo is arguably the most identifiable in the sport, even if it's similar to that of the Green Bay Packers and Grambling. Bold.
California - It doesn't get much better than Cal Script. The Golden Bears unveiled an interesting new set of supplemental logos two years ago, but thankfully, this went nowhere.
Miami - The "U" is nicknamed the "U" for a reason. No other school splits its logo right down the middle by using its color scheme. It looks fantastic.
Ohio State - Have you ever noticed that the "S" in "State" sits perfectly in the middle of the block "O" in the background? Yeah, Ohio State's logo is more impressive than you thought.
Texas - Could arguably be higher. Texas' logo is different and iconic. A Longhorn in the shape of a "T"? Pretty smart.
UCLA - The Bruins' logo isn't often mentioned in these kinds of conversations. It should be. It's recognizable, clean and reminds you of college.
Alabama - Alabama does a nice job of incorporating its script "A" into its logo. It also features the program's entire name, which is rare.
Clemson - Clemson's Tiger paw print logo is the cleanest of any school that features a feline as its mascot. The simple orange color scheme works extremely well here.
Notre Dame - The fact that we didn't make Notre Dame's iconic interlocking logo No. 1 could upset Irish fans. But we do admit - it's one of the best in the sport.
Florida - No school does more with the allotted space than Florida. A fierce-looking Gator with big teeth and angry eyes that's ready to battle? Give it the crown.