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ltravisjr

Sports vs. Non-sports logos

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As I look at all the fine artwork submitted here, a question has been nagging me so hopefully you professional designers out there could enlighten me. Anyway...

The logos presented here are nothing short of stunning and highly effective. However, to me it appears that the term "logo" almost doesn't apply. What do I mean? Well, if I do research how "experts" describe good logo designs, at least in the non-sports world, it appears our sports logos go overboard. For example, I read that professional logos should be recognizable with just a simple wth no more then a couple of colors and no shadows, bevels, etc. Examples cited are are FedEx, Sears, HP, and Nike. For reference, here is one article purporting to teach correct logo design:

Elements of Effective Logo Design

To me, it seems that a logo like HP's is in a completely different category then, say, the Washington Nationals or a good Nitoseed or Virtuoso design. Am I right about this? Do sports logo designers have a different set of rules to follow?

LT

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In a sense, they sports vs. non-sports logos all fall under the category of identity. That would be a primary reason of a logo, to identify it with a specific entity rather than spelling out the name all the time.

But an athletic department's or team's identity is more than just a logo representing it. It goes more into being visually relevant to its name, and beyond that into merchandising. A company may go by just its initials, like 3M or HP, and while there by infinite possibilites of turning those intials into a logo, the finished piece may not represent what the company does. Does the 3M logo look like Scotch® Tape? Of course not. All you can gather from the AT&T logo is that the company operates on a global scale.

Sports logos & identities may have many levels of imagery in them...a mascot/nickname, a quick snippet of the skyline, and the colors of the school or team. Some even refer to the specific sport in which that team plays.

Corporate logos may have multiple uses, but more often than not, those logos would be limited to corporate letterhead or product packaging. With the exception of NASCAR, or that company's employees, not too many people are wearing clothing with the AT&T or 3M logos. But merchandising is the lifeblood of sports identities...produce a cool logo, and hopefully popular players and a winning tradition, and people will want to wear that team's logos on everything they can find.

Sure, sports logo designers have to approach those clients differently. Sports logos are generally more intricate than corporate ones, and have a broader range of applications. What might make a good corporate logo might only function as a secondary or tertiary athletic logo. It's not that one might require more thought than the other, there's just more to keep in mind with a team than a company.

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I think in some circumstances they do, however the general principles still apply. Simplicity, clarity, colours, etc.

Sports logos often have more going on, but like McDonald's, whose logo is sometimes depicted as featuring a bevel effect, you can boil it down to golden arches, or in the sports logos case, an interlocking DC, etc.

A good Nitroseed logo might have several more colours than is ideal, but it's usually possible to boil the scheme down to two or three dominant colours.

In addition, while there may be a rather detailed fish (as an example) in the logo, the position of the fish and the dominant features of the fish aren't diluted... you remember it by the shape and features, not the shimmer effect used on it's back (as an example).

Also, it should be noted that many of the most successful sports logos follow the corporate logo principles very strictly. The Yankees' interlocking NY, the Canadiens' CH, the Packers' G, and the Lakers' script/ball combination have all withstood the test of time, and all adhere very closely to the rules laid out on About.com's Logo Design analysis.

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Thanks for the explanations, guys. They make sense. Merchandising is the key. I guess a sports logo is different in that it sells itself in addition to the product it is identifying, which is unique. It still makes sense to me to use a term different then just "logo", but I guess "sports logo" is sufficient. Anyway, I do agree that all logos at their basic level do adhere to some general rules; heck, quality art of any kind will follow the basic rules of color and composition.

LT

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