B-Rich

Non-Referencing of Nickname in logos

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Touching on a post in the Lost Sports Logos thread, during the 1st round of the NBA playoffs, it hit me how the Washington Wizards now have no reference at all to a very specific nickname, a nickname that is rich with visual opportunity.  Of course up until a few years ago, they did have these, but now they are gone:

 

wizards_logo.gif

 

All reference, imagery, and color scheme now used by the franchise has no connection to the name "Wizards";  it's more centered on the location itself.  The team literally could have any other nickname in existence and keep the same logos and uniforms.

 

I also noticed the same was true of the Golden State Warriors. "Warriors" is a very fierce-sounding name, with much opportunity for some type of visual interpretation.  Like many teams named "warriors", the franchise originally focused on a Native American warrior, using a dribbling brave or in some instances a chief's bonnet.  But shortly after their move to the west coast, they have focused more on the location's imagery: Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, outline of state of California, new Bay Bridge, and finally an oak tree.  The one exception (for a short time) was during this era below, with at least a stylized mythological warrior wielding a lightning bolt as a weapon:

 

golden-state-warriors-logo-wallpaper.jpg

 

 

 

So I began to look into it a little more, and noticed how many teams actually fail to use their nickname in ANY aspect of their branding/imagery.  And as I am wont to do, I also started to categorize them.  What I postulate is that there are four basic categories:

 

  1. Use nickname in imagery: Clear examples include teams like the Celtics, Falcons, Spurs, both Cardinals, Redskins, Penguins, Lightning, etc.  I would also include those that use a clearly associative item, such as the Braves' tomahawk, Buccaneers' pirate flag,  Sacramento Kings' crown, etc.   Imagery may even come in secondary logos not used on uniforms (Chicago Bears, Detroit Tigers, etc.)
  2. Use location in imagery: This would include the afore-mentioned Wizards and Warriors, current Seattle Sounders and old Sonics logos, old Nuggets 'rainbow skyline', etc..   Dallas Cowboys (other than some really old logos with the football player riding a horse) would arguably be in this category with their Texas Lone Star. The Saints' fleur-de-lis would normally place them in this category as well, as it is the symbol for the city (and on the city flag) as well as being ubiquitous in New Orleans; but it was also the symbol of an actual saint, St. Louis, King of France, so it could also be in category 1)
  3. Wordmark/initials with or without  equipment/ball as imagery: baseball (Dodgers, Giants, A's) basketball (Nets, Lakers, Pistons), and in football, usually with initials in a football shaped oval (Jets, Packers, 49ers). Very rare in hockey.
  4. Abstract logos/imagery.   Rather rare; the only ones that leap out at me are the Portland Trail Blazers and the OKC Thunder.  The old NASL Cosmos logo fit into this category as well.

 

 

Personally, it REALLY bugs me when a team has a great nickname, but doesn't use any imagery for it.  Like I said earlier, it's as if they could name themselves ANYTHING in the same set, just change a few letters... case in point, the old 80s Supersonics logo:

 YSWxQYr.jpg

 

what's worse is when OTHER, non-related imagery is brought in... a good example a few years back was when the Padres went to blue and gold with the "wave" imagery on a home plate shape:

old-san-diego-padres-logo.jpg

 

Any other thoughts, examples?

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Cavaliers in the 80s and 90s. No reference to a cavalier whatsoever. The 80s logo is poplar within the fan base and I've noticed that the 90s logo is making a comeback within the fan base. The other 4 logos that Cavs had reference the fighting style or weaponry of a cavalier.

qg1w8t0t6ol9f7sbhv4j3s0s1.gif

faemq40pf86689pq4z8550l5i.png

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Category 2:


Phillies (maybe):  The stars in the wordmark and Liberty Bell in the logo are location specific.  Since a filly is a female horse, an argument could be made that equine imagery would be nickname specific.  However, the spelling of Phillies means it refers more to natives of Philadelphia (sort of), in which case this could be considered a Category 1 example. 

 

Mets (maybe):  This is another example like the Seattle one above where any other name could be used in the logo.  On the other hand, it you treat Mets as short for "Metropolitans" (owner's corporate name -- The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club Inc.), a New York skyline is a pretty fair representation of the nickname (and thus another Category 1 example).

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The Detroit Pistons have an interesting history in this regard. First, some background - a piston looks like this:

28026508-engine-pistons-3d-image.jpg

Note the iconic shape of the piston on the bottom. This was echoed by the team's first few primary logos - lines connecting an outer shape to an inner circle or oval:

4956.giflgv5ssjmmchyoe66kkvh0tlzd.gif

Then, of course, the Pistons went away from the iconography of a literal piston in their 1996 change. However, they still used an automotive-themed logo, as their horse (get it, horsepower?) had chrome exhaust pipes:

enfhamkfyk1vfvdjuzg67fpeg.gif444.gif

After determining that the horse logo was fatally '90s, the Pistons went with the most generic possible wordmark-over-basketball logo for nearly a decade, which probably only lasted that long because the Pistons won the 2004 NBA Championship with it (technically, they had the horse logo as a primary through the 2004 season, but used design themed around the logo below):

3079.gif

When the Pistons decided to bring back the "classic" piston logo in 2017, they changed it... notice the tweak?

22321642018.gif

Not only was the font updated, which is fine, but the inner white circle was broadened to be tangential to the outer white circle. This makes no sense - look again at the photo of the actual pistons above. If the inner circle shape met the outer circle shape, the metal would be infinitesimally thin at that spot, and the piston would fall apart. Maybe they wanted to go with a sleeker shape for the modern classic logo, but in doing so, they ended up with something that doesn't really look like a piston.

 

So I don't know what category I'd put the Pistons in - the original iterations of this logo were somewhat abstract, but clearly intended to represent pistons. Now you could argue that they're still pistons, but given the change, you could also argue that they're an abstract design intended to recall a throwback logo, rather than an actual piston.

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This only works when the mascots are simple, readily identifiable and tangible objects. College sports are ripe with more abstract and unique names that are very hard (if not impossible) to make into an easy-to-discern logo. 

 

Cornhuskers. 

Sooners. 

Hoosiers. 

Buckeyes. 

Hokies. 

Volunteers. 

Cardinal. 

Crimson Tide. 

Etc... 

 

You'll never see a logo of a Hoosier and be like, "hey that's a good looking Hoosier," because there is no universal definition of WHAT a Hoosier IS.  Compare that to a Bulldog, Tiger or Spartan, which are simple objects even a child can ID. 

 

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Do you have anything that confirms that the Pistons' logo was supposed to represent the space at the bottom of a piston? Because I'm not buying it. 

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@whitedawg22 You should write for Nike.

 

I've always understood the Piston's logo to be a Basketball viewed from the side

27e4f0e4-990d-4cc1-81a4-8eaab02c3da0_1.f

and when they updated the logo, they just made it more accurate to modern basketballs

 

It being the lower hole of a piston sounds like revisionist garbage to justify a circle logo with lines

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1 hour ago, B-Rich said:
  • Use nickname in imagery: Clear examples include teams like the Celtics, Falcons, Spurs, both Cardinals, Redskins, Penguins, Lightning, etc.  I would also include those that use a clearly associative item, such as the Braves' tomahawk, Buccaneers' pirate flag,  Sacramento Kings' crown, etc.   Imagery may even come in secondary logos not used on uniforms (Chicago Bears, Detroit Tigers, etc.)
  • Use location in imagery: This would include the afore-mentioned Wizards and Warriors, current Seattle Sounders and old Sonics logos, old Nuggets 'rainbow skyline', etc..   Dallas Cowboys (other than some really old logos with the football player riding a horse) would arguably be in this category with their Texas Lone Star. The Saints' fleur-de-lis would normally place them in this category as well, as it is the symbol for the city (and on the city flag) as well as being ubiquitous in New Orleans; but it was also the symbol of an actual saint, St. Louis, King of France, so it could also be in category 1)
  • Wordmark/initials with or without  equipment/ball as imagery: baseball (Dodgers, Giants, A's) basketball (Nets, Lakers, Pistons), and in football, usually with initials in a football shaped oval (Jets, Packers, 49ers). Very rare in hockey.
  • Abstract logos/imagery.   Rather rare; the only ones that leap out at me are the Portland Trail Blazers and the OKC Thunder.  The old NASL Cosmos logo fit into this category as well.

 

I think it's OK that some nicknames are not referenced. In fact, I think it is even better sometimes.

 

Some names are simply not conducive.  Phillies, Athletics, etc.  Other times, I'm glad teams don't try it.  I bolded Seattle Sounders above because they could try to draw a "sounder," which I guess would be something like Johnny Canuck.  So I am glad they don't.  The Lakers could do that as well (though with what, a typical Minnesotan?).  The Islanders did do that and my opinion is that the results were disastrous (though this board is split on it).  I'm also glad the Bills focus on what I think we'd call city imagery and did not try to recreate Buffalo Bill.  (Buffalo, unlike most places, has city options that look like mascots.  The Phoenix Suns have dabbled in this, too).

 

My personal preference tends to be a subtle nod.  The Colts, the Jazz note (as opposed to something like the un-worn Blues alt of the 1990s), the First-Lebron-era sword, the Devils, the Kings crown.  Or a simpler logo like the Lions or Falcons.  That said, the Wild, Seahawks, and plenty of others have done a good job.  But I'm always afraid a design will become too "fierce" or too detailed.  I'm glad that the Bears don't use that bear head logo a lot.  It would truly look terrible on a helmet.

 

The two you highlight (Wizards and Warriors) I tend to think look better with City imagery than the two logos you show.  The Wizards logos are way overdone, and I kinda think that of the Warriors as well.  I think they are both better off right now (though for the Wizards, that's a bit trickier since they look like they are trying to dress up as the Bullets; they probably should have kept the old color scheme).

 

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The Wizards, albeit in a very subtle way, actually do reference a wizard in their new logo. The Washington monument combined with the star forms a wand.

 

The New York Rangers have never had a logo that references a ranger, and not even ever a ranger mascot. Canadiens too.

 

From 1987 to 2001 the Twins logo was just a baseball with words, no reference to the Twin Cities in their set.

 

The Cleveland Browns have never actually referenced Paul Brown in their logos, no we're the Cleveland Helmeted Pound-Dog Elvez and we're proud! JQK did the best Browns logo I've ever seen to that effect.

 

And lastly, probably the worst offender, the Brooklyn Nets. Seriously, nothing? Oh, but you have a B. nvm.

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1 hour ago, Pharos04 said:

@whitedawg22 You should write for Nike.

 

I've always understood the Piston's logo to be a Basketball viewed from the side

27e4f0e4-990d-4cc1-81a4-8eaab02c3da0_1.f

and when they updated the logo, they just made it more accurate to modern basketballs

 

 

That's absolutely what it is

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1 hour ago, pianoknight said:

College sports are ripe with more abstract and unique names that are very hard (if not impossible) to make into an easy-to-discern logo. 

 

Cornhuskers. 

Sooners. 

Hoosiers. 

Buckeyes. 

Hokies. 

Volunteers. 

Cardinal. 

Crimson Tide.

 

Are you kiddin' me? 

 

Ever seen these?

 

dneb4408_1024fb_1024x1024.jpg?v=15124957oklahoma_sooners_schooner_wagon_by_josue  logo_-ohio-state-university-buckeyes-bru

Herbie Husker? The Boomer Sooner Schooner? Brutus Buckeye?

 

logo_-virginia-tech-hokies-hokiebird.pngrifleplateasphalt_1024x1024.jpg?v=151024latest?cb=20131120031545

 

The Hokie Gobbler? Davy Crockett/Rifleman? Big Al?

 

All are /were licensed by the colleges and used in merch sales. Definitely part of the imagery.

 

Granted, a lot of older college imagery is based on mascots, costumed or real, which in some cases does not tie-in to the name (Alabama's elephant/Big Al, UNC's Ram/Ramses, Navy's goat/ Bill, etc.). The Indiana Hoosiers for awhile had a (costumed) buffalo mascot which was also licensed and used (a buffalo is on the state seal).

 

Teams named after colors-- Harvard Crimson, Dartmouth Green, and Stanford Cardinal-- well, what can you do? Cornell (Big Red) has used a bear mascot; Stanford has that tree.

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They (we) have carved out a nice small-market-underdog identity, but the Buffalo Bills are the absolute kings of this category. Without a shred of imagery linked to our namesake, our name falls somewhere between a pun and a Labatt's Blue war cry.

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7 hours ago, panthers_2012 said:

faemq40pf86689pq4z8550l5i.png

 

Should have been a Nets logo. The Cavs could have had the shield-based logo the Nets would have.

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3 hours ago, Qbkc*sGwFPR+PY#,472w said:

 

Technically, no. The tree is the mascot of the Stanford band. The school does not have an official mascot.

I think he's referring to the tree imagery.. There's a tree within the primary athletic logo for Stanford, so in that regard, technically yes, the tree is part of the official athletic mark for the entire department (not to mention the school seal).. So while it may not be an official mascot, it is an official image for the entire school, not just the band..

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5 hours ago, B-Rich said:

 

Are you kiddin' me? 

 

Ever seen these?

 

dneb4408_1024fb_1024x1024.jpg?v=15124957oklahoma_sooners_schooner_wagon_by_josue  logo_-ohio-state-university-buckeyes-bru

Herbie Husker? The Boomer Sooner Schooner? Brutus Buckeye?

 

logo_-virginia-tech-hokies-hokiebird.pngrifleplateasphalt_1024x1024.jpg?v=151024latest?cb=20131120031545

 

The Hokie Gobbler? Davy Crockett/Rifleman? Big Al?

 

All are /were licensed by the colleges and used in merch sales. Definitely part of the imagery.

 

Granted, a lot of older college imagery is based on mascots, costumed or real, which in some cases does not tie-in to the name (Alabama's elephant/Big Al, UNC's Ram/Ramses, Navy's goat/ Bill, etc.). The Indiana Hoosiers for awhile had a (costumed) buffalo mascot which was also licensed and used (a buffalo is on the state seal).

 

Teams named after colors-- Harvard Crimson, Dartmouth Green, and Stanford Cardinal-- well, what can you do? Cornell (Big Red) has used a bear mascot; Stanford has that tree.

 

That makes sense. I misunderstood your premise. My point was more along the lines that none of those logos are primary and many are still obtuse. Try explaining why a Sooner is a flag on the side of a wagon. Yeah, I get the claim jumping and homesteaders trying to settle Oklahoma "sooner" than others, but it's still a bit more complex than just a team like Georgia calling themselves the Bulldogs and having an actual Bulldog plus a guy in a Bulldog costume. 

 

Put it this way. The SEC can have THREE Tigers and LSU, Mizzou and Auburn can each still distinguish themselves because tigers are very commonly known things. Everyone has their own interpretation and the logo can be a tiger paw (Clemson) without being anything similar to Mike the Tiger or infringing on LSU.

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If you look closely, the Wizards logo actually has a guy who looks like a wizard to me.  He has the floppy hat, a long white beard, and has generic "logo magic" coming out of his pointed finger.

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