August 15, 2015

NBA Logo Rank, Part 3

Part three of my logo rank represents the halfway point of this journey. While we have seen some pretty good designs once or twice before this, I'm astonished by the overall lack of stellar designs produced for the tons upon tons of money that I am sure was paid from the teams to their graphic consultants. I'm not sure my opinion of all that is changed much by this post. Let's keep going.

18. Atlanta Hawks
Alright, Atlanta, I admit it…the Pac-Man logo (top left above) is awesome and its return to the Hawks family of logos has to be welcomed with open arms. It's slightly different than the 1970s version and looks quite honestly less like Pac-Man eating a dot than its predecessor but it's still an awesome design and conjures up memories of Dominique Wilkins battling Larry Bird in an epic 1988 playoff series. Kudos on the retro re-brand introduced earlier this year.

But what was the club thinking with the rest of these logos and these absolutely hideous colors? Yep, the Pac looks great in traditional team colors red and white, not so much in putrescent green and black which makes me think of Mr. Yuk more than Atlanta hoops. And we already know how I feel about airport codes in team branding from my rant about the Phoenix Suns in part two of this countdown; at least the Suns logo surrounding the airport code is reasonably attractive. What's the deal with this crazy wordmark? Is there some sort of subtlety that I'm missing?

Finally, I'm also not a fan of the golden snitch logo (top right). I get it's a basketball with bird wings but the truncated top of the teardrop shape is awful and it really does look like Harry Potter should be racing to grab it ahead of Draco Malfoy. Quidditch anyone?

The Hawks are 18th because of the Pac. Nothing else. Could have been way lower.

17. Toronto Raptors
If you had asked me before I started this ranking how the Toronto Raptors were likely to place among the 30 NBA teams, my answer would likely have been "not well" or something to that effect. This team has a huge image problem in my opinion, mostly due to their absolutely incomprehensible nickname. I'm still pushing for a Huskies name change.

But lo and behold when I started looking at all the current NBA logos, I found that the raptor imagery, which started out as a less cuddlier version of Barney, has mostly gone away and the Raps have focused their branding around a basketball which looks like it's either held by or has been slashed by a velociraptor. No more cartoon dinosaurs, no more logos dripping blood, no more fossil imagery and thankfully no more purple. And thumbs up to all of that.

Now, let's remember this is still just one logo repeated three times and the font is terrible and it is only in 17th place, but it's actually a decent design and it's not cluttered with inferior secondary and alternate logos. Well done, Raptors. Never thought I'd write that.

16. Utah Jazz
Put the franchise name out of your minds, folks. I know jazz doesn't belong in Utah. This is not about the name; it's about the logos. And talking about the logos is pretty simple.

I hate the Jazz primary logo on the left above. It embodies Jazz in absolutely no way whatsoever, unless you are going to make the case for the "J" being a stylized saxophone. I think the mountains are great for Utah but for me this thing is a dead loss.

The musical note "J" logo however is a freaking work of art. I love the simplicity, clarity and genius of this logo. It screams jazz and basketball at the same time and it's absolutely brilliant. The Jazz re-introducing this look a couple of years ago was a huge step in the right direction of branding this franchise. But there's still that pesky Utah disconnect.

There's so much potential here but ultimately it's about the entire collection of logos, not just one. And, yes, I can't put the franchise name out of my mind. Rename this team. PLEASE!!!

15. Los Angeles Lakers
I love tradition. I love consistency. I love simple clear designs. The Lakers have all three. Their primary logo on the left above is uncomplicated and dates back to the franchise's move to Los Angeles in 1960, albeit in slightly different tones. And in that time the Laker tradition is probably unmatched in the NBA, even by the Boston Celtics.

But graphic mediocrity had to catch up with the Lakers sooner or later and it does so at number 15. This logo is of another time, and I don't mean that as a compliment. It's a basketball with the team name in front and some movement marks on the name to give the illusion that the name is moving really fast. There's just not much here and despite its simplicity and consistency of message over the last 45 years, it's just not very inspiring.

The Lakers introduced the way clunkier and not graphically attractive at all secondary logo (above right) in 2001. While it makes their original logo look sleek and sophisticated, it doesn't help out the Lakers brand at all. Let's move on.

14. Indiana Pacers
Combine the Raptors (recycling one logo into three separate logos) and the Lakers (simplicity and tradition) and you get the Pacers. And in my countdown, they end up ahead of both. They finish ahead of the Raptors because the logo they are using is better than the logo the Raps are using; they finish ahead of the Lakers because they were wise enough to not introduce a terrible secondary logo which makes their brand worse.

The Pacers started out in American Basketball Association with an abstract "P" (for Pacers) logo made up of an arm and hand shooting a basketball. They adopted the current look in 1990 and have refused to change it since. It's a testament to how poor the NBA family of logos is overall that Indiana can finish this high in my ranking with so little imagination.

I do like the center logo above, by the way, a lot. It has a high school or collegiate look that somehow feels very appropriate for a team representing the state of Indiana. If the Pacers ever re-brand, I'd keep that one as an alternate or secondary logo for sure.

13. Milwaukee Bucks
In this offseason, there have been two teams that have undergone significant re-branding. The Clippers look like they rushed the whole thing and were rewarded with a set of logos nobody has claimed to like which got them the number 30 spot by a mile in this ranking. The other franchise was the Milwaukee Bucks, whose new set of designs is both pleasing and a HUGE upgrade over their prior look.

There are a number of things I like about the new look Bucks. First off, the green, blue and beige colors are way better than the green and burnt orange they had last year and way way better than the green and purple they had before that. I hesitate to compliment any color scheme that features beige as a primary component but this is truly a color upgrade.

The second thing I like about the new Bucks logos is the connection to the state of Wisconsin. I don't know that I've ever seen the state of Wisconsin extracted from the rest of the United States but I think it works to smartly connect the city's team to the state with two borders less than an hour's drive to two other NBA teams.

I also love the basketball imagery in the lower points of the Buck's antlers (on the left) which is re-iterated in their third logo (on the right). It almost makes the dot after the "EST" and the awkward looking "M" in that logo palatable.

There are a couple of negatives for me. First, the font is horrible, although considering the "antler" font the Bucks had before this, it's a big improvement. Finally, I can't get over the fact that their primarily logo looks like a hunter shot their mascot and mounted its head on the wall of his basement den as a trophy. Maybe I don't get the idea of a deer being ferocious. Wouldn't be the first time I've offered that opinion.

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