Sports brands should be timeless, but event marks represent a particular moment in time and will retire with the event, allowing designers to tell a story about trends in color, typography and illustration.
- View the April 2010 issue of HOW to read the article “Team Work”—a behind the scenes look at sports logo redesigns and tips from the pros.
Even with that freedom, Bill Frederick, of Frederick & Froberg Design Office in New Jersey, doesn’t want to lose sight of a team’s or event’s established history that can serve as a reference point. “These identity programs are a matter of evolution rather than revolution,” he says. As someone who designed the 2009 World Series, 2009 MLB All-Star Game and 2009 NHL Winter Classic identities, he knows. “If you were to look at the last 30 years of MLB All-Star Game logos, they tell a story about trends.”
Todd Radom, a designer in New York, says that he has designed for Super Bowl and World Series logos, among other jewel events, allowing him to live in the moment. But Radom, like Frederick, doesn’t want forget about history. That is why he loves anniversary logos. “I have an affection for history and in particular to get into the specifics of a team, region, city and market and distill all that down into an event or anniversary logo,” he says. “It is a lot of fun for me.”
Tying that history together into something new and exciting is what Steven Morris likes about anniversary logo opportunities. As someone who recently designed the San Diego Chargers’ 50th anniversary logo, he says that he was able to take the updated lightning bolt look that the NFL designed for the Chargers and that with historical marks in a contemporary branding package—a complex project to be sure.
Freedom can be fun too, though. Anne Occi, vice president of design services for MLB, says that while club marks steer clear of trends, there are definitely options where trends need to be embraced, as with jewel events. Already, design is starting on spring training logos for 2011. “It is very important to know what will be popular in the spring of 2011,” Occi says. After all, MLB has a six-week period to sell its hats and T-shirts, so it needs to know what people will want to buy.
Whether an event or an anniversary, more information needs to be conveyed in a special event logo than a simplistic team mark. Kelley Kocher, executive director of creative imaging for Kroenke Sports Enterprises, who has seen all-star games hosted at all four of her Denver franchises, says that the league generally ties together the specific feel of the local team into the broader league-wide brand with a bit more verbiage than on traditional marks.
When she has created anniversary logos, as with the Colorado Avalanche’s 10th anniversary, the focus was on a local audience that would see the mark in regional branding, not the national audience she would usually take into account when creating a mark. Kocher changed the team mark of a large A with a puck sweeping around it to simply a large X (the Roman numeral for 10) with the same puck work and added the words 10th anniversary. “Here, locally, was the only place it was shown and it was very successful,” she said. “People all know that mark very well.”
And that is why history is so important. Even with the ability to play with trendy looks, tying a special event or anniversary logo back to the overall historical brand of a team or event is critical in developing a connection to the audience.
Tim Newcomb is a freelance magazine writer and newspaper editor living in western Washington. He remains curious to see what the next trend in sport logos will be, but will always be partial to the emotional tie he has with the San Diego Padres’ interlocking S-D and its secondary friar mark.
MORE RESOURCES FOR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS