August 30 is National College Colors Day, the day to wear your university’s colors and gear. Colors identify a university. Orange and purple: Clemson. Maize and blue: Michigan. Scarlet and gray . . . well, we won’t go there. But what about dark blue and Columbia blue? They are the colors of Bob Jones University.
Although those colors—along with two shades of brown—are recently developed, a BJU brand has existed since the University’s early years.
The History of the BJU Identity
The first image created specifically for the school was the Bob Jones College Crest, designed by Dr. Bob Jones Jr. about 1938. The Crest’s symbols emphasized the college’s foundation. According to a note from the president’s office, “The scales stand for the proper balance of life and that man weighed in God’s balances is always found wanting. The cross, of course, speaks of Christ and our redemption. The Book is the Word of God. The torch is the Light of truth.” The Crest also bore the college’s acronym BJC, which was updated to BJU in 1947.
The change to BJU and relocation to Greenville prompted the creation of an official BJU logo. The logo emphasized the school’s new standing as a university and the modern architecture of the new campus. A second logo came out in January 1967.
A New Logo for a New Era
By 2010, the logo was clearly outdated and less effective than it had been in the 20th century. Introducing the Bruins in 2012 provided the perfect segue to a new logo.
However, creating the new identity was a challenge. The design team from Marketing—formerly Creative Services—wanted to use the Bruin and the athletic colors to represent the whole organization, not just sports. But they also wanted to uphold BJU’s heritage. David Lovegrove, Chief Marketing Officer, said, “We were trying to send messages in the way we designed (the logo) that we were . . . resting on our history and our foundations and not changing from who we were. We wanted people to feel really comfortable with the new logo.”
To accomplish that goal, the Marketing team decided to represent BJU with a heraldic shield that incorporates the Bruins colors. Using a shield allowed them to imitate the Crest, keeping the focus of BJU on Christ, the Bible and truth. They added a rampant bear to connect BJU with the Bruin identity while maintaining a sense of tradition. The new logo rolled out in August 2013.
Marketing also updated the Crest to reflect the new Bruin identity.
The Progression of BJU College Colors
By the early ’30s, the college colors were clearly blue and white—but which shade of blue was far from clear. Although many shades of blue represented the school in those early years, they tended to be a brighter royal blue. However, throughout the ’60s and ’70s, the University’s blue transitioned to navy, leaving royal blue to represent Bob Jones Academy. A specific shade of navy became the official BJU blue in the early ’90s.
Expanding the Color Palette
When the time came to choose a color palette for the Bruins, Lovegrove said, “We were picking colors for the athletics identity, intending them to influence . . . the University identity.” So they based their options on the established blue and white. However, the color combination would not work. “Blue and white with only two colors is . . . too limiting,” Lovegrove said. “We needed more flexibility in a color palette.” They decided to deepen the navy and change the white to a bright blue.
The bright blue was intended to do more than spice up the boring white. “We are trying to reach people at every stage of life,” Lovegrove said. The navy was appropriate for adults, but it was not the best for reaching kids at events such as Homecoming & Family Weekend. Lovegrove explained, “We wanted a color that would let us do much brighter things with a much younger feel that we could use for younger audiences.”
To get ideas for the Bruins logo, the Marketing team compared at least 1,000 university graphics. That’s when they realized the two blues were not enough. They found that graphics with at least four colors were usually stronger than those with two or three. With the brown bruin in mind, they added two shades of brown to the palette, tying the University blue to the mascot.
The exact color names came from the Bruins’ sponsor adidas. After selecting the adidas contract proposal, the team matched the college colors to the catalog names of the uniform colors—dark blue, Columbia blue, brown and sandstorm.
Although the Bruins were introduced in 2012, Bob Jones College had intercollegiate sports in 1928 while still in Florida. Women played basketball and men had basketball, baseball, tennis, track and football—the main sport. The “Swamp Angels”—a name given by opposing teams who were not trying to compliment—played mainly high schools and vocational schools. For the first couple of years they could also only play home games because of transportation difficulties. Once they did have away games, they played in neighboring towns.
Students’ failure to meet academic requirements raised concerns about the program. But when sports clearly attracted students and spectators more than the school’s values, BJC decided to forgo intercollegiate sports in 1933. The end of intercollegiate sports, however, led to the beginning of intramural sports.
Bringing in the Bruins
In the fall of 2012, intercollegiate athletics returned to BJU. Since the Bruins’ first year with four varsity sports, the athletic program has grown to include 15 varsity sports.
Fall 2012 – Men and women’s soccer and basketball
Fall 2013 – Men and women’s cross country and golf
Spring 2016 – Men and women’s shooting sports and track & field
Fall 2016 – Women’s volleyball
Spring 2021 – Men’s baseball and women’s lacrosse
See Also: Take Me Out to the BJU Bruins Game
The Bruins began competing in the NCCAA Division I and moved to Division II in time for the 2016–17 school year. (Women’s soccer had already moved to that division in 2013.) The University is currently progressing toward membership in the NCAA Division III.
The athletic program is committed to students’ athleticism, but it is also committed to their academic success. Students develop time management skills and a good work ethic while participating on the Bruins teams. The program also emphasizes outreach opportunities—on and off the field, in the community and around the world.
Whether it’s National College Colors Day or not, wear BJU colors knowing that they don’t represent just another school. They represent academic quality, God-honoring sports and a commitment to focus on God.