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A history of UW logos – Which is your favorite?

University of Washington logos

For Huskies, the University of Washington means many things. To the majority of people outside the UW community, the school is an image—a purple block W.  

When people look at the logo, no matter where they are, they don’t just see the logo. They see their personal experiences with the university, and their impressions are based on media and other sources. They see the UW’s reputation.  

With its logo, mascot and color scheme, the UW has always tried to represent the students, the school and the ideals held here. The brand’s evolution has taken some unusual twists and turns but has endlessly inspired students and alumni alike. Let’s open the history books and look back at nearly a century of UW logos.  

First, some interesting notes:  

  • Until 1919, the UW did not have a mascot and used only the block W. But as other schools adopted mascots across the nation, Columns reported, student leaders realized that Washington needed an icon.
  • The nickname “Sun Dodgers” was used until the UW switched to Huskies in 1922. Wanting to move away from Sun Dodgers, university officials decided to go with Vikings but students immediately protested and the school settled on Huskies a few months later.
  • It wasn’t until 1984 that the UW agreed it needed a clear identity and moved to adopt a consistent logo and color scheme. Before that, more than 550 licensees were authorized to use either the block W or Husky logos, and the result was a mishmash of UW imagery.

    University of Washington logo 1919

    Sunny Boy statue at Husky Hall of Fame.

Our story begins with a drawing in the Sept. 1919 issue of the on-campus magazine, Sun Dodger, in which a staff artist depicted a fictional UW student named “Sunny Boy,” a smiling freshman wearing a huge bow tie and carrying an umbrella (right). Despite the initial protests of magazine staff, the name “Sun Dodgers” stuck with the local press and Sunny Boy grew in popularity. Eventually, students commissioned a 3-foot-tall wooden statue in his likeness and carried it to the away football games. See the video from the Husky Hall of Fame.

An article in the Washington Alumnus, which later became Columns magazine, noted the Husky is “a symbol of willingness, courage, endurance, strength and fight.” After settling on the new name, university officials were most excited to use a live dog as an on-the-field mascot, and felt the name Huskies “suggests the idea that Washington is the most northern American university on the Pacific Coast.” A nod to our neighbors to the north, eh?  

The Husky logo itself underwent many changes over the years. Sometimes it would smile slightly (1932). Other times it looked a little mean (1971). Sometimes it appeared cartoonish (1959). Other times it was serenely realistic University of Washington logo 2001(1979). For a few years in the 1950s, the logo returned to the block W that had been popular before 1919, and when the Husky design converged with the block W for the first time in 1979, the W stayed on.  

In 2001, the UW finished a two-year collaboration with Nike to create a standardized color system and modern Husky logo (left). Athletics Director Barbara Hedges told The Daily at the time, “It’s a very striking logo. It gives our student athletes a strong identity that they deserve.” Not everyone was excited about the new design, however. A UW sophomore was quoted in a 2001 Daily column: “I can’t trust it. The old one had so much pride. It was a loyal dog. The new one looks like it’s going to steal my hamburger from the barbecue.”  

The UW’s current branding initiative began in 2007 and moved the focus back to the block W. In doing so, the university is creating a brand thUniversity of Washington logo 1995at anyone can recognize simply by seeing the purple W. Bold, bright purple lends itself to the innovative nature of UW students and alumni, while the block lettering shows we are unabashedly proud to stand out among the crowd.  

In a 2005 Alumni Vote, UW graduates selected the 1995 logo (right) as their all-time favorite. This rendition shows a determined Husky with a block W in the background. What’s your favorite UW logo? Which logo was in effect during your time on campus?  

Please do share!

Graphic by Ken Shafer Design.

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115 Responses to “A history of UW logos – Which is your favorite?”

  1. Andrew wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    I enjoy the 1995 and 1979 versions the most. I hated the 2001 logo when it was released (my freshman year) thinking it appeared more like a squirrel or weasel as someone else mentioned above. I guess it fit with Neuheisel as our coach at the time… Currently I have an awesome retro pin from the 70s I wear as a lapel pin at work.

  2. TJ wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    I still love the 2001 logo. It’s modern give me the most pride in the Huskies Logo. U of Dubb for ever!!!

  3. Toyota Obsession wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    1979 and 1995.

    ’79 because I can remember my Dad’s Gear having that Logo when we would go to Games when I was a Kid.

    1995 just looks awesome too.

    Ahhhhh nostalgia.

  4. Jared wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    At UW form 2000-2004, ran track one year, had the rat while I was there hated it. The 95 logo is the best.

  5. ak47dawg wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    2008 Grad and UWAA member.

    2001 logo is horrible and corresponds with the demise of the football program, Slick, and Ty.

    The 1979 logo is my personal favorite. Nike launched a vault collection and whenever I can find a product with the logo I buy it. 1995 is not bad and the current logo is great but an alternate that features the block W and the husky needs to be reincorporated.

    • Kathy wrote:
      January 20, 2011

      I have a purple cowboy hat with a red rose in the brim with the 1979 logo – just found it unpacking over the weekend.

      • Derek Belt wrote:
        February 14, 2011

        Hi Kathy – That sounds AWESOME!! Do you have a picture to share? We’ve got to get a look at that cowboy hat.

  6. Megan wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    1979 & both of the 1995 ones!! :)

  7. Dr. Blue wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    Definitely 1995! The husky is proud and confident!

  8. Candice wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    I personally like the 1995 logo It is the most traditional and yet powerful. I wish we would go back to it! Go DAWGS!!!!

  9. Erich wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    1995 logo

  10. Dewey wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    It’s all about the 1919 one. Very unique.

    • Derek Belt wrote:
      February 14, 2011

      Hi Dewey – I love it! You’re the first person to say the 1919 logo is the best. I’m with you – it’s unique. A fun piece of history, and here’s the video from the Husky Hall of Fame of the Sunny Boy statue. Too cool!

  11. Brad wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    As much as the purple W is classic, we need something more that depicts the personality of our program, our traditions. Years 95 and 83 do a great job of representing our pride. Heck, even 1932 is cool. It’s time to add a Husky to merchandise and marketing materials. We also had pride wearing deeper golds and purples. Cmon Scott Woodward, make it happen. Bring back that Husky pride!

  12. Me wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    I have a blanket with the ’71 logo and it’s a great looking dawg, tough and strong, except I miss not having a W in the logo. The ’79 and ’95 are both good, tough and regal looking big dawgs and deep rich colors. I’m with the dude who suggested the weasel should be consigned to the dustbin of history – aptly stated!

  13. Brad wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    Oops, I meant 95 and 79, NOT 83!

  14. Tim wrote:
    January 18, 2011

    I like classic 74 best followed closely by 95 and then 2001. Like a couple others I hadn’t heard this much dislike for the 01 logo but I get the confluence of factors (Nike/Oregon, neuheisal, etc..) that might give a bad taste to it. Regardless I still like it well enough to be top 3.

  15. Aleksander S. wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    Class of 2000. By far the 1974 and 2007. The 2001 is pretty neat too though – sleek and majestic as someone before already said. How about combining the 2001 and 2007 – the sleek Husky with the W in the background ??!!

    Cheers-Czesc!

  16. Aleksander S. wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    PS. The 2001 Husky shows the dynamics of our academia. Afterall, the UW is growing in size and in ranking.

  17. FiredaWg wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    The best is 1995 with the Husky/UW followed by the sturdy W logo of 1974.

  18. DK wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    The 1987 logo has a firm place in my Husky heart, though 1995 with the block W is my favorite.

  19. Scott Liljedahl wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    The logo introduced in 1974 embodies Washington. The bold purple block W with the gold trim is just so classic and has a strong look.

  20. BhamHusky wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    1995 and 1971 are my favs

    Say no to Nike!

  21. Matt wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    Either the 1995 W and Dawg or the 1974 W

  22. NorDawg wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    I like both the 1995 and 1979 logos. I still have stuff with the 1979 logo and consider it timeless.

    I refused to buy “weasel gear” and as long as we don’t have 2001’s shameful cartoon, I’m happy.

  23. AlkiDawg wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    Fun to read everyone’s passion and nostalgia in these comments.

    As a primary logo, I agree with the “timelessness” of the block W. May it ever be so. It’s fine to change the secondary logo (the Dawg) every so often, but let’s not forget the W. I love how the band open’s it’s pregame show by pulling out of the end zone into the W, then pretty much filling the field with it. It’s even better than than Michigan’s famed floating “M”, which is cool but doesn’t fill the field.

    As long as so many are being nostalgic, I’ve always been fond of the “It’s Great to Be a Husky” slogan that was pretty much all we had in the 60’s and 70’s. Can’t find any merchandise with that any more.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if powers-that-be recognized the power of this nostalgia among the loyal fan base and got the teams to wear purple and gold instead of messing around with home white jerseys (okay for basketball, but not football!) and cutting back on the black that seems to be overtaking most every other team’s jerseys?

    • Derek Belt wrote:
      February 14, 2011

      Hi Alki – We actually have some stickers from Homecoming with the “It’s Great to Be a Husky” slogan. They’re very cool. Let me know if you want a few and I’ll send them your way. Email me at beltd@uw.edu.

  24. Bryan S wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    I like the 74 logo but think the white pin stripe inside the logo should be changed to the current gold color. I’d like to bring back the ’95 dawg as the secondary logo.

  25. Steve wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    My vote for favorite logo is for the 1979 “Happy Husky” first and the 1995 “W” Husky second. My sentimental favorite logo is the 1974 “W” and I have it tattooed on my shoulder. I graduated from the U-Dub in 1990 and I don’t even remember seeing the 1987 logo on anything. As for the 2001″weasel” Nike logo, I agree with others in that I refuse to buy or own anything with that “thing” on it. Go Dawgs! Woof! Woof! Woof!

  26. PurpleDrank42 wrote:
    January 19, 2011

    I like 1995 and 2007. Gotta love 59 as well. Cool old school logo.

  27. Malcolm wrote:
    January 20, 2011

    I vote for the 1995 logo. I refuse to buy anything with 2001’s – there’s a poorly disguised Nike swoosh incorporated into it.

  28. Kathy wrote:
    January 20, 2011

    My favorite is the 1979 with the 1995 being the second. I graduated in 1990, but do not recall the 1985 logo at all (tells you something about college)

  29. Hazel Singer wrote:
    January 20, 2011

    The worst was the 2001! I attended 1969-1976 (BA and MA) and the ’74 and ’07 are my favourites.

  30. Lynn Gray wrote:
    January 21, 2011

    Being class of 1982 I like the 1979 logo but also like the logo from 2001. I really like the 1959 logo since that was my birth year and would love some vintage Husky gear with that logo…

  31. David wrote:
    January 23, 2011

    the 1995 logo is the best

  32. Barbara Donahue wrote:
    January 29, 2011

    Wow..I attended the UW in 1966-1970….the logo which I prefer is 1995 with U and W…how can there be a logo without “U dub”???? I hope people still say “U dub”..as we did back in the day….during Vietnam and B.P….lively times on campus then….we were the UNIVERSITY of WASHINGTON..not just WASHINGTON…U W

  33. Brandon Moen wrote:
    February 2, 2011

    I don’t think the 2001 logo looks like a weasel. But I will add that the 2 1995 logos are my favorite. I also really like the 1979 & 1983. 1983 was when I was born. All in all I think we have the best logos in the nation.

  34. MaryEllen Anderson wrote:
    February 2, 2011

    I’m in favor of all forms of UW, not just plain W (which reminds me of US President number 43). AND removing the name “University of Washington” from the main entrance to campus (17th & 45th) when the bronze W was installed has really annoyed me. OK, hang Ws all over campus but please leave the name. This place is a university, dang it, not just a sports center.

  35. Husky Mother wrote:
    February 6, 2011

    We favor the 1979 logo. During the late 80’s to early 90’s, our daughter and son attended the UW. Mom designed a sweater pattern based on the 1979 logo. Husky son, on mom’s behalf, obtained a limited license from the UW to use this logo on hand-made sweaters, which mom sold under the business name of “Husky Mother Sweaters”. Husky Mother produced a limited number of these sweaters, some which may still be seen on Husky fans at the football games. They are very distictive with the 1979 logo on a flourscent purple background with the dog face on a gold W.

    Many members (multi-generations) of our family are UW alumni and rabid dawg fans, through the good times and the bad. GO DAWGS!

    P.S. – no more weasels!

    • Derek Belt wrote:
      February 14, 2011

      Hi Husky Mother – Are there any photos of the Husky Mother Sweaters out there? I’d love to see one!

  36. BleedPurple wrote:
    March 14, 2011

    I just did three hours of internet search looking for good clean artwork for the “Happy Husky” that exemplified the Don James era, to no avail. It is as if Nike has purged the internet of anything but the New Weasel swoosh.

    The Dawg had been a symbol of the football franchise. Under James, he raised up proud, upstanding happy Huskies. Under Lambright, we got the looking over the shoulder waiting for the whip or ax (it didn’t take long).

    Under Hedges/New Weasel/Nike we got the sleaziest of all sneak-thief logos in the NCAA. Shameful years. It would be great to see the Happy Husky of the DJ (our best) era return.

    And while we are cleaning house…. it’s time for the U to become a “Nike Free Zone”.

  37. David wrote:
    March 16, 2011

    The 1919 wins hands down. Sunny looks like a real UW undergrad :)

  38. Mike wrote:
    March 23, 2011

    Class of “81. The 2001 logo is the greatest – wish it was still available. The “W” represents the universities (Washington. Wyoming and Wisconsin) equally well but not the “dawgs”. We need a combo of both “dawg” and W to reflect the UW. I’m not a “W” I’m a “husky” so bring back the husky logo!

  39. Ken Tidwell wrote:
    September 20, 2011

    Is there anyone who knows why the current logo, the block “W,” is not symmetrical? Why is the right side of the “W” thinner? There must be some signifigance to it.

  40. Beebs wrote:
    September 26, 2011

    If the 1995 logo is so popular(my favorite too) why can’t I find anything with that logo on it? I have searched the bookstore, Dawg Den, internet just about everywhere and that logo is no where to be found. They need to get rid of the 79 logo and the weasel.

  41. Micah wrote:
    September 28, 2011

    I like the 1995 logo the best. It has great taste and class. Plus it looks good on sports paraphernalia.
    -owner
    http://commercialjanitorialservices.biz

  42. bill wrote:
    November 2, 2011

    the logo that is best is the 2001 it got super swag

  43. Nan wrote:
    November 4, 2011

    ’95 for sure even though I am from the 70’s. I still have a tire cover for ’95 but I am hiding it. Really did not like ’01 too many bad memories of FB coaching and AD. Best to stay in the past and see the real DAWG of ’75 again!

  44. mikey wrote:
    February 6, 2012

    1979 and 1995 hands down. 2001 is alright but no it’s not sleek and I agree, it’s a weasal!!

  45. mikey wrote:
    February 6, 2012

    1979 and 1995 hands down. 2001 is alright but no it’s not sleek and I agree, it’s a weasal!!!!!

  46. mikey wrote:
    February 6, 2012

    NOONE LIKED 1919! HOW!? lol just playing. 83 and some of the other classics are nice though with the big ol, bold W, and UW. Very nice Very nice = )

  47. mikey wrote:
    February 6, 2012

    I also like 58, 74, 83, and 2007 but the 58 looks WAY to much like U O old logo.. the U is too blocky and really looks like there’s if you do a comparison..

  48. mikey howard wrote:
    February 6, 2012

    87 is classic

  49. mikey howard wrote:
    February 6, 2012

    87 a is classic too

  50. Steph W wrote:
    February 9, 2012

    I attended with my husband from 1988-1992 and me again from 1999-2001. Our whole Husky family HATES the 2001 logo. We used to call it the Swoop Doggy-Dog. 1995 is my favorite with the 1979 a runner up.

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