Case Study: Southern Methodist University

The ushering in of a new team staff often also ushers in redefined goals. That was the case for Southern Methodist University (SMU) in 2015. The small, private school in Dallas, Texas, was known for many things such as their business and law programs, but lacked recognition for their athletics. The football team faced a few particular challenges: in addition to having a completely new staff, the program had struggled to build the team’s success.  SMU needed a way to refresh and realign their program.



After a series of discovery sessions involving detailed meetings and discussions, we helped SMU plan and execute a thorough graphic redesign for their administrative and player spaces. This included enhancements throughout their entire facility, but focused heavily on reception areas, offices, locker rooms and team meeting areas.





Previously, the main office area had mostly white walls and a cluttered reception space. Today, the main office boasts a new digital display, a trophy wall and team pillars.

To remind students, coaches, and staff alike of their players’ successes, SMU installed flat screen televisions in the reception area to highlight accolades and growth on collegiate and professional levels. The televisions provide a sense of modernity  and make it easy to update their players' progress in a quick, low cost way. They also have the flexibility to change their display as they deem necessary to match the changing culture of the team. SMU’s digital displays are a great example of how improvements don’t have to lead to expensive, recurring costs.

On a more traditional level, SMU incorporated a trophy wall lined with four glass shelves. Additionally, the graphic behind each trophy shelf describes each championship game. Even though they only have three trophies, they asked for four shelves as a reminder of the championship trophy they anticipate winning in the future. This is a unique daily incentive for the department to push themselves to develop the strongest team possible.

Finally, the columns in the hallway of the office emulate the team’s pillars. Each pillar is decorated with key team words and phrases like “Energy and Work Ethic” and “Family.” The pillars serve as another reminder to the staff of the purposes of the program.

By reinforcing team goals through environmental design, the atmosphere immediately illustrates the team’s focus to coaches, staff, student-athletes, and any visiting donors and alumni.


Locker Rooms and Player Spaces

Many updates were made in player spaces including renovations to graphics in the hallways leading to the locker room, the locker room itself and the team meeting room.




An extensive timeline graphic runs the length of hallway to the locker room to remind the players of the team’s past success. It’s multi-dimensional, providing insight into how their team has grown both internally (through marked championship games) and externally( through growing attendance statistics) throughout the past several decades.




In addition to enhancing their position-specific meeting rooms and team meeting room, they’ve added plaques for academic and All-American achievements to emphasize their past successes and establish an environment that welcomes team development and discussion.




The Results

As the facility improves, the team has improved. Over the past three years, the success of the team has seen measurable growth. While in 2014 they ended the season with a 1-11 run, in 2016 they ended the season 5-7. In 2017, they continued to grow with a 7-5 run in the regular season and even received a bowl game bid.