As a fan and a designer sports logos have always fascinated me. A team logo represents so much more than just a sports club. How a simple N overlaying a Y can evoke such passion from some and disdain from others is one hell of a feat. I could think of a few companies who would love to have that kind of brand loyalty.
Over the past 12 years Chris Creamer has created a monster of a site cataloging these logos. Sportslogos.net is trully awe-inspiring with a collection ranging from Major League Baseball to The National Rugby League.
TPP: Creating a website cataloging sports logos, in my mind, would be quite a task. Why did you decide to take on something like that?
Chris: Well this was way back in the early days of the Internet and really I was just looking for any reason to learn how to build a website, I always had a fascination with sports logos and uniforms and when I first built the page it was really just a collection of sports logos for myself I had found all over the Internet on other sites. My dad ultimately came up with the suggestion I expand the site to include as many logos, teams, leagues as possible to appeal to other people and here we are, twelve and a half years later.
TPP: The site has built up a large following and with that comes a lot of eyes and ears. Has that helped in your search for new or redesigned logos?
Chris: Without a doubt, it certainly has it’s pros. I have a great team of longtime users that I entrust in helping me add the logos and uniforms, I find myself constantly being sent logos by various sources within teams and leagues that I can’t put up on the site because they haven’t been released. With the large following, however, comes larger expectations to have everything up first and have it up at the best quality.
TPP: Are you a graphic designer by trade?
Chris: It was something I did study for briefly, and I have done some projects but for the past five years I have been exclusively doing web developing on the code side of things.
TPP: Teams and Leagues contact you directly? So they are obviously aware of the site and the folowing. I think that says a lot about the connection between a fan and the team’s logo/branding.
Chris: I’ve had NCAA colleges and even some leagues send me e-mails requesting I update the logos on their page or include them within the site and then again I’ve had leagues and teams tell me to remove their images. It really is something that can hit on either extreme depending on who you’re dealing with.
TPP: One of my favorite aspects of the site is the ability to look back at teams with a long history and see the progression of their logos, for instance the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Chris: Exactly, and that’s why I eventually set up the team pages the way I did to help you see the evolution in the design of the logo over time, in the case of the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates or in hockey you really see it in teams like the Maple Leafs and Canadiens you can really see how just seemingly small alterations over a 100 year period led to what they use today.
TPP: And then you have the Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, who have been using the same logo for some time.
Chris: Yes exactly, but most of these teams who did go through all the evolutions seem to be reluctant to continue doing so these days, too afraid to mess with a traditional look perhaps, but it’s something I think a lot of teams should continue doing. The Canadiens evolved for 50 years then suddenly stopped, the Leafs did the same thing, an evolution every few years then they stopped in 1970.
Boston on the other hand, you have the Red Sox, the Celtics, the Bruins, all three are very historic teams and all three still continue to evolve and tweak their logo and look ever so slightly every few years. The Bruins and Red Sox both recently made tweaks to their logo in the past three seasons and I’d bet most people never even noticed, and that’s exactly how you have to do it when you’re a team with such a rich history like that.
TPP: With the memorabilia business (jerseys, helmets, etc) being such a lucrative market, changing your logo is big business. Not to mention the internal changes in an organization.
Chris: Changing your logo has a down-side and then a very positive upside for any sports organization, when an upcoming logo change is first announced or leaked (as is often the case) fans, understandably, stop buying merchandise for the team – everything the team has for sale suddenly has less value and needs to be sold at fractions of the cost just so the team can recoup any kind of return on them.
The plus obviously is once the new logo is unveiled, every fan needs to go out and update their wardrobe, their collections, their jerseys, everything. Even regardless of their opinion of the new logo, that’s what their team wears so that’s what they now must wear whether they hate it or not.
TPP: Right, and you can’t hype it as vintage.
Chris: Not for at least ten years or so it would seem 🙂
TPP: How do you feel about the trend in sports logos, super bold type, sharp edges? Is there a moment or logo that you recall that set that trend?
Chris: I have an unfavourable opinion of any “across the board” trends when it comes to graphic design. We seem to be at a point now where when you hear a new logo is coming out you know it’ll either be A. Super bold type with sharp edges, or B. Whatever logo the team used prior to their most recent one (or if it’s an NBA team it’s C. Their current logo but in different colours). The predictability is rather boring to be quite honest. Sure the designs are nice, a lot of them are great improvements over logos of the past but let’s shake things up a little bit how about some variety?
I can’t think of any particular logo that really set the ball rolling on this trend but it seems like the Toronto Raptors, 95/96 would’ve been one of the early ones to employ this technique, sharp edges and bold everywhere.
TPP: Agreed. I always enjoy when the NFL has teams play in their vintage jerseys and helmets.
Chris: I love the vintage games as much as anyone when done in moderation, when you have the Brewers and Blue Jays wearing their old uniforms once a week it starts to lose what makes it special and you just get used to seeing them. This year the NFL is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the AFL and you’re seeing the original AFL clubs like the Broncos and Bills wearing throwbacks regularly. Lots of fun for sure but let’s keep saving the year-long celebrations for special occasions only.
TPP: Favorite Logo / Logo You Think Would Most Benefit From a Makeover (Any Sport)
Chris: My favourite logo currently in use today is the Washington Capitals alternate logo, a logo so fine it could serve as the logo for the United States should the nation ever require one. My favourite logos seem to have a trend, several individual design elements and meanings when put together form their own solid design (The US Capitol Dome and bald eagle in the case of the Capitals logo), others I’ve always enjoyed from years past, similar to the Capitals with their many elements coming together like the Hartford Whalers, Montreal Expos, the Milwaukee Brewers’ old “mb baseball glove” logo.
Which logo needs a makeover? The Blue Jays need a new home uniform in the worst possible way but I think the partial version of their logo is fine the way it is.
TPP: Have the creators of these logos ever contacted you?
Chris: I actually do get contacted by the designers quite frequently, some of which I’ve become quite friendly with others have been extremely negative experiences but the one common bond we all share is just the all-out love of design and appreciation for its history. The most fascinating stories are from the designers of logos from long ago, the stories you’ve never heard before, and while there’s no real juicy information contained in there it’s still a treat to hear.