Indiana Daily Student

How the cream and crimson came to be

From the student section of Assembly Hall, to the corridors of the Indiana Memorial Union, to jerseys and painted faces on the tailgate fields, cream and crimson can be found everywhere across IU’s campus. 

"There's a rich uniqueness about the colors cream and crimson that makes them an important brand element to the University," said Tim Keller, the director of Creative Services for IU.

However, some can’t name the school's colors, often mistaking them for red and white. That's because, for most of IU history, they were.

The school's colors have had several makeovers throughout IU's history. According to the IU Archives, in December 1887, the then-named Indiana Student stated the colors of the University were crimson and black. The senior class colors were cream and gold, according to the paper.

But over the next few years, the combination of the cream and crimson was adopted as IU's official colors. In 1903, The Daily Student, renamed from the Indiana Student in 1899, published an article in which IU students and faculty were asked what IU’s colors were. 

Many were unsure, but several were able to identify the colors as some combination of crimson, red, white and cream. The writer of the article explicitly stated the colors of the University were cream and crimson and that these colors had been adopted 15 years prior in 1888.

The article said cream and crimson gained popularity due to their catchy alliteration.

In later years, the colors switched to a simpler red and white, although it is unclear exactly when they changed. It wasn’t until 2002 that IU reverted back to the original cream and crimson, when the company Michael-Osborne Design from San Francisco was hired to redesign the IU symbol and was instructed to add crimson to it.

Designer Paul Kagiwada was then hired to give the logo a new, cleaner look, creating the logo used by the University today.

Keller said the colors of cream and crimson are one of the most important brand assets to the University, meaning they are used to advertise and publicize IU, especially to prospective students. 

"The first brand asset is IU's degrees, and the second is the IU logo and colors," Keller said.

Although the current official school colors are cream and crimson, IU hasn’t completely ditched red and white. According to a guide from the IU brand guidelines website, crimson is the primary color that should be dominant in all marketing materials, but cream shouldn’t be used for these purposes at all. The guide states the school's primary colors for marketing purposes are crimson and white.

"Although we think of our official colors as 'cream and crimson,' white has been substituted for decades and is more consistent with our brand equity," the guide reads. "In addition, cream doesn’t reproduce well in most design executions.” 

However, Keller said that being from Indiana, he and many Hoosiers recognize the colors cream and crimson as a proud symbol of IU.  

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