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Maine Black Bears Redesign or: Five Years of Improvement

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Almost exactly five years ago, I was still relatively new to the world of designing non-soccer logos, and I decided to redesign the logo for my home state college hockey team, Maine Black Bears. Maine has a pretty awful primary logo that I for some reason list as one of my favorites.

 

1200px-Maine_Black_Bears_logo.svg.png

 

I've always loved the idea, and have plenty of nostalgia for the logo, but the execution fails big time. 

 

So, as noted before, I went about redesigning the logo. The design process was a pretty interesting ride, starting with a pretty out there interpretation and ending nearly a year later with a logo I thought was pretty good, besides the eyes. 

 

MOXuukS.png    ptOwwW1.png  

 

Eventually I moved on to other designs, and began improving my craft at logo design relatively rapidly, but I never came back to this logo, being pretty satisfied with it for awhile. Recently, I decided to take a brand new crack at it, similar to my redesign of a Northeastern logo I also did in 2014. Below is what fresh eyes and five years of learning and improving my skills came up with.

 

dSxXY7j.png

 

Key Features/Changes:

  • The logo actually looks like a bear, a much more realistic design compared to the previous two. The snout and nose area is the biggest difference, with me dropping the 'stache look and designing a much more realistic nose. Incorporation of the lighter grey also made the logo look more like a black bear, whose snouts are light brown in real life.
  • I finally figured out the damn eyes. Bears have small black eyes, and I finally figured out that the best way to do them was to simply place the irises on the black background. 
  • Actual incorporation of both team colors. While I did dabble in a more team color-centric design at all stages of my design process, it just felt wrong not having the bear be grey and black, since I wanted to keep the heart of the original design. Ultimately, I decided to simply make the tongue dark blue. This incorporated the color with the added benefit of keeping the tongue from being too distracting. 

 

That's pretty much all I've got, hit me up with that C+C! Also, if anyone has any work that demonstrates their improvement over time, please feel free to post it in this thread, I'd be more than willing to change the title and make it a community thread.

 

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Massive improvements here when seeing the progression from your earlier drafts. In your latest version, I would reduce the size of the ears drastically and lighten up the charcoal gray a shade to create more contrast.

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Thanks for sharing! Love seeing this kind of progress. I agree with jaha in that I'd make the ears a bit smaller, otherwise you've pretty much nailed it. Have you come up with a wordmark to go along with it?

Their current primary is hilarious. What is going on with that mouth? My goodness. 

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You've done Northeastern and made that kick ass, and you've done Maine and I really like that new logo. I'd love to see you take on all of Hockey East!

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4 hours ago, jaha32 said:

Massive improvements here when seeing the progression from your earlier drafts. In your latest version, I would reduce the size of the ears drastically and lighten up the charcoal gray a shade to create more contrast.

 

Yeah, I was debating on whether to go with 70% black or 80% black. I’ll go back and take a look again. In regards to the ears, I probably won’t make them THAT much smaller, simply because black bears have big-ass ears as is, but thanks for the C+C on that.

 

4 hours ago, j'villejags said:

Thanks for sharing! Love seeing this kind of progress. I agree with jaha in that I'd make the ears a bit smaller, otherwise you've pretty much nailed it. Have you come up with a wordmark to go along with it?

Their current primary is hilarious. What is going on with that mouth? My goodness. 

 

Yeah, I think what they were going for was the tongue? It really is a complete mess. For me it’s the unnecessary grey outline everywhere. The single color logo looks so much better because it’s not muddling up the whole look (still not good though)

 

UMaineBrand-Logo-Others-BearHead-Black.j

 

 

3 hours ago, stumpygremlin said:

You've done Northeastern and made that kick ass, and you've done Maine and I really like that new logo. I'd love to see you take on all of Hockey East!

 

Yeah, I’m on the exact same page as you on going more Hockey East teams. I imagine you’ll see more soon. I actually did a providence logo awhile back.

 

Providence%20College%20Friars_zpspnrlkgj

 

I also did UNH, UML, and Merrimack logos, but I’ll probably redo those first before posting.

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Outstanding progress.

The overall image is really great but here are some small things I think would progress it even further :

 

- Make the ears a tad smaller. I know someone else mentioned it and you countered it, but if the ears are bigger it gives off the vibe of it being a cub. If you shrink the ears, it becomes more adult looking. So whichever one you’re going for should be represented by the ears.

 

- Try both options of

(1) Removing the line connecting the mouth.

(2) Have the mouth connect on both sides.

I personally think the half-and-half doesn’t look good.

 

- Remove the small white piece on the nose.

 

- Make the darker grey a little light for more contrast (also previously mentioned)

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I’ll echo the sentiments about the ears. My very first reaction was that the logo struck me as a cub because of the size of the ears. I think I’d make them a touch smaller and move them higher on the head. The head could be a bit wider too. I think that and the size/placement of the ears are what make me see a cub, not an adult bear.

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Well done! Progress is very good on this project. Nicely executed and fits in with their identity.

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Regarding UMaine.

 

Those first couple of bear head concepts scared me to death, but the evolution is incredible.  Your final product is awesome and we really, really need to rebrand.  I hate the current bear head and we've had it for a long time.

 

Go Blue.

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Quick update for you guys, I made the ears smaller, and a bit higher. I've also included two versions, one with the original 80% black fur, and one with what I'm calling 75% black. I dunno, I still like the original color better, but let me know why I'm wrong about that.

 

gnASYJf.png

 

 

15 hours ago, builtbymachines said:

- Try both options of

(1) Removing the line connecting the mouth.

(2) Have the mouth connect on both sides.

I personally think the half-and-half doesn’t look good.

 

- Remove the small white piece on the nose.

 

 

I figured I'd also address each of these suggestions, because I did attempt each behind the scenes originally and decided against them for various reasons.

 

1) Removing the mouth connection on the left side ultimately returned me to the problem of the dreaded mustache that plagued my earlier versions of the logo. I've been trying for literally half a decade, and the attachment is the only way I know how to avoid it.

 

2) The mouth connection on the right side completely interferes with the established shading and lighting of the rest of the logo. That was extremely important to me, because I wanted to create a natural update to the actual Maine logo, which features that light/dark split. I did also try the right side connector, but a darker grey, and I just didn't like it. There's something I just love about the negative space there.

 

3) The white spot on the nose is there to add a subtle layer of depth and follows the lighting scheme. I did originally go without, but the nose just felt like a flat shape. Also, the top of bears' noses tend to look lighter than the front due to sunlight, so this was a subtle way to add that as well.

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2 hours ago, SNBSlugger said:

I hate the current bear head and we've had it for a long time.

 

I was honestly shocked to learn the logo in its current form has only been around since 1999. Obviously 20 years is a long time, but this logo looks like it was designed in the damn 70s.

 

Fun fact, it's somehow not nearly as bad as the original version of the logo.

 

d9hffxnbekh1wlckvnge.gif

(This appears to be a somewhat sloppy recreation of the actual logo, but I haven't found any actual image of that more than 100 x 100 pixels. It was still a sloppy mess.)

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Oh yeah I'm aware of the existence of the pre-1999 logo.  I'm originally from Bangor, about 8 miles south of the campus. My dad graduated from UMaine and I attended very briefly.  At least the old logo can be blamed somewhat on the design limitations at the time it was created.  The 1999 logo is atrocious.  I think it was an attempt to re-brand after we won the national hockey championship in 1999.  It didn't work.  Full disclosure, I do have an alternate hockey jersey in my collection from the mid-00s that has the current  logo on it.

 

Your design is great and would be an immediate upgrade.  I don't have any idea who you could reach out to but I feel like this would sell a ton of merch up there.

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Adjusting the ears made a huge difference. I’m glad you took the time to explain why you are sticking with your other decisions and I can’t find anything else to critique. I would personally call this project a success at this point.

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