I love sports, they are probably my favourite thing to do other then design and the internet. I was trying to come up with an idea on how I could talk about sports and design. I thought I would analyze the logos of teams in different sports. I only analyzed the main logo’s used, and I picked the logo’s that showed major change. I am aware there are many secondary logo’s designed for most clubs, I was concentrating on the main brand of each team.
Here are my conclusions of sports brands;
Simple Modifications: Some logos are just slightly updated to fit with the respected time. A simple colour difference, bolder strokes, size, or detail.
Simplify the logo: Some logos are designed with extreme detail, or are very informative. Later on those logos are simplified, the illustrations and information have been removed and usually a simple icon that represents the brand is used.
Complete overhaul: Some logos go through a totally different look, not keeping any design element from the last. This can be dangerous as you are introducing a new logo, it might not get the thumbs up from the fans and the brand will lack. This is a risky move, but if some teams like to completely refresh their brand or if the franchise isn’t making any money on that brand it might be a successful bargain.
World Series, All Star Games, Super-bowls, Playoffs: These special event logos are usually branded to fit the location. This showcases the growth of a logo as it goes through its annual change. This being said there is always some elements that stay the same in the end.
Major League Baseball Logos
Boston Red Sox: As you can see the Red Sox have kept with the team history and colours. From the first logo in 1908 with a simple but yet effective logo design, the Red Sox then moved on to a much more detailed logo between 1979-2008. Just recently the 2009 logo returned to the teams original idea.
Atlanta Braves: Their 1967-1971 logo is more of an obvious logo. When looking at the logo you know everything about the team except for that they play baseball. The best logos are the ones where they leave something for the imagination. This is shown better in 1971 – 1986 when they dropped the location, probably due to the fact that they situated themselves in the league and they are recognized as the Braves. Moving to 1990, the infamous tomahawk takes centre stage. I personally like the most recent logo.
San Diego Padres: This is interesting as you can see from the images above all the logos are completely different. The only element that is consistent is the name of the team. The first logo 1969 – 1984 is dominant by character illustration. Seven years later the padres dropped the character and colour scheme and went with a traditional baseball typography logo. Again in 2004 the Padres, created a new colour scheme and logo.
The World Series: The series going back to 1974 and 1975 the logos are nothing more than basic text. Jumping to 1985-87 the logos have taken on more of a design role. The MLB logo has been inserted, and there is more attention on baseball elements. In 1992 – 1999 the logos were given depth, adding shadows, stronger strokes and bolder lines. The logos were contained inside the diamond, which is used in baseball logos often. A globe has been inserted and as you can see the differences are in the colour schemes and in 1999 they have added a different perspective. In 2000-2003 the logos received a much more detailed look. The logos were styled around the team that held the world series, this continued in 04-07 as well. The logos were condensed significantly as the diamond shape was thrown out the window. 2008 was the year of the “Fall Classic” MLB trying to throw back their logo with a much more creditable, mature logo.
MLB All Star Game
MLB All Star Game: An annual event showcasing the best players in the league. The one obvious trend in the All Star Logo design is that each team holding the All Star Game brands the logo to fit with their club. As you can see from 1938 to 2009 the logos are all different in almost every aspect. I personally like the 1984 Giants and the 2008 NYC logos.
NBA (National Basketball Association) Logos
New York Knicks: The 1965 – 1976 logo offered a picture-esq logo. The basketball looks very realistic, especially considering its time. Keeping with the same theme, in 1996 the Knicks changed their logo to be more modern by adding a more simplified colour scheme, shaper and bolder lines. The perspective is key for the Knicks logo.
Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs have gone through a bunch of different logos in the past 60+ years. The first logo through 1947 – 1964, a great character illustration and it leaves a lot to the imagination. Moving to 1971 – 1983 the logo took on a more college basketball look. 1984 – 1994 the logo was simplified to the more popular team name. The current logo is much more aggressive, and bold if you ask me. The orange colours in the others logos feels to soft, the dark red, blue, with the gold and white highlights is bold and tough.
Boston Celtics: The most successful teams in the NBA, one of the most recognizable brands in the history of sports. 1947 – 1950 button like logo with the name and simple clover icon. Moving to 1961 -1968 the Celtic character was introduced, maybe not successfully but it paved the way for 1969-1978 introduction into the more interesting character. 1997’s logo still stands strong and as it should its a great reflection on what a character can do for your brand. The character is fantastic, very iconic, the logo is timeless, again we see the red basketball and cane.
Chicago Bulls: I am going to go on record and say this could be the best sports logo of all time. Designed in 1967 by Theodore W. Drake the logo still has not changed since. That would make the design 42 years old. The logo is strong, bold, powerful and aggressive, a great reflection of the bull. The typography sits all so nice between the bulls red tipped horns. Do you agree that this could be the sports logo of all time?
National Football League Logos
Buffalo Bills: Not sure what happened in 1960-1969, these logo’s are horrible. I don’t know if you can call them logo’s they look like they placed a football player over top of an image of a bull contained in a football. Thankfully in 1974 the Bills had the blue and red charging bison, it’s a great improvement.
Cleveland Browns: This is an interesting brand starting 1950-1960 the character logo was a cute little elf illustration. Starting in 1975 – 1995 and then again in 2006 the logo’s have been a football helmet. The fans have been pleading for a new logo, let’s say that again not a new logo but a different logo. Recently the fans have broke out with dog masks and the “Dog pound” has been flying around. So I am very surprised that the franchise hasn’t swung that way. Yeah they have some secondary logo’s but their main logo is still falling short.
Miami Dolphins: This is a great example of keeping with the same logo and just enhancing it. 1966 was the first year the logo was introduced, a cute dolphin with a Miami football helmet. The logo wasn’t modified until 1974 when it was given a warmer colour scheme and more detail. Not until 1997 did we see a fully enhanced dolphin illustration. The present logo has much more detail, as you can see the emotion and expression of the dolphin. The logo is much more bold, the size, weight of the strokes and highlights have all been enhanced.
Arizona Cardinals: An example on how simple change can provide different emotions. The Arizona Cardinals original logo from 1994 – 2004 is a solid logo, simple and easy to understand. In 2005 the logo was slightly modified to fit with a faster, and stronger NFL. The Cardinal was tilted slightly, designed more streamlined, and the elements and strokes are sharp.
Dallas Cowboys: Some people might argue that this should be alongside the Chicago Bulls logo. The star has been around since 1960, the logo was then slightly changed 4 years later. The star still stands strong for the Cowboys. It’s simple and iconic, I wonder if anyone ever thought that they were called the Dallas Stars, interesting seeing there is a Dallas Stars NHL team.
New England Patriots: This is another example of a detailed logo being simplified. The 1971-1992 logo is a fantastic illustration, I love it… The 2000 logo is totally different, the logo is much more streamlined, but I think the original logo feels stronger and more powerful. I like the new colour scheme, and I would like to see a throwback logo with the current colour scheme.
The Super-bowl: the biggest TV event of the year. As you can see it’s come a long way since 1967. The logos have used the powerful roman numeral system. The roman numerals bring the emotion and history of this epic game. Similar to the MLB All Star Games, the logos are branded where the Super Bowl is taking place. In the early years the logos were very basic typography. Top priority was getting the message across showing the roman numeral as the main point of the logo. In recent years, design elements have been added to create the scene. The logos still use the roman numerals as the main focal point, and by adding football elements or city trademarks the logos pull together nicely.