The NFL has changed its logo.
Well, let me correct that. They are GOING to change their logo, and the grand unveiling is set for the draft next spring.
You can review the logo here in this photo, next to the tried and true logo that has been with us since 1980.
My review: it sucks.
I didn't ask for it. I wasn't polled about it. The old logo was working just fine. A stately, traditional, tried and true shield that says: "Don't f--- with us! We're the NFL! Now, enjoy the game."
Of course, I am just a layperson; a rube on the couch.
What do I know?
For a more detailed critique, I could think of no better man than Dave Mann of Milwaukee, who has designed a number of minor-league sports logos and has done fabulous work for me on various logo-related projects.
Without further ado... here's more than you ever wanted to know about the new logo.
FROM: Dave Mann
RE: New NFL Logo
Clearly this "new" logo is not terribly done. It's neither an embarrassment nor a PR stumble in and of itself. In general, I think the NFL does a terrific job with its logos across the board.
1) The swap from "royal" blue to navy blue is going on everywhere in design circles. I won't hold the NFL responsible for that trend. It also DOES increase the contrast of the image.
2) The football is probably an overall improvement. The old one looked like a hamburger. I like the tie-in to the Lombardi Trophy and the increased size in relation to the rest of the logo.
3) I find the eight starts problematic. They are certainly clearer than before and easier to reproduce for vendors. And now that they "symbolize" each of the eight league divisions, it is theoretically a more representative logo. My problem is that now the blue field just looks too empty. I don't know what the proper solution would have been. 12 stars? 13? 15? 16? If the previous 25 stars signified nothing then I feel the NFL was free to pick whatever number of stars looked best, and eight is not that number. Plus, now they'd better hope they hold at eight divisions for quite a while.
4) My main technical problem with this entire logo is indeed with the "NFL" font itself. The old-style, curly letters didn't mirror the bottom of the shield PERFECTLY, but it was darned close. The new "F" is not truly centered in this new text treatment. Well, let me correct that. It IS centered, but the serif on the ascender bleeds over the center point to the right.
So, while the "N" and the "L" are both sloping evenly downward toward the center of the shield, they are not sloping evenly toward the center of the "F" and thus, APPEAR off. Make sense? This is something the curvy old lettering did a much better job of. Which of course makes sense, the old curvy NFL lettering was designed to go in that shield. The new NFL text was not. Classic square peg / round hole retro-fit. Which leads me to my next point...
The layperson might be inclined to think "Great! Unity is a GOOD thing, right?" Well, yes and no. It's very typical for companies to use a particular font or font family for their taglines or to tie together different divisions of the same parent company. But it's also almost ALWAYS true for that NOT to be the font present in their primary parent company logo. It's really a hierarchy issue at heart and I think it amounts to a curious decision on the NFL's part to make everything the same; or more accurately stated -- to make their entire brand match a few events on their calendar.
All in all; the world will keep spinning and the sun will rise again tomorrow. This isn't a big deal. But, I will say that generally speaking, age buys you a lot of forgiveness. You know what I mean; nobody questions Grandpa when he passes wind at Sunday brunch ‘cause he's old! Nobody questions why the windows don't quite open properly on your gorgeous 100-year old Victorian home, cause it's freakin' OLD!
Charm counts for something.
Merely having been around for XX number of years absolutely counts for something and design is no different. It's called brand equity. Nobody on earth was up at night thinking about how bad the NFL logo was. I certainly wasn't. So now you unveil a "brand new" logo and all the angles that don't match are no longer charming. They're annoying. Follow? If something is "new," we are conditioned to expect perfection.
So in doing this mod, the NFL has stoked two of my pet peeves at once.
A) Be VERY careful doing a subtle update. Nothing is better than a perfect logo upgrade that simultaneously honors the past and brings the company into the present. (Think of the Arizona Cardinals logo upgrade last year) But it simply MUST be perfect or it invites retro revisionism. This is not perfect.
B) Why, why, WHY!?!? Put out a press release and feature this new look in USA Today?! Nobody loves talking logos more than me. I'll talk ALL NIGHT LONG over a few beers about logo details so boring your eyes will melt out of your skull. With that said, this is not something for the papers, even in this new media age. People cannot applaud stationary 2-D art. Instead we instinctively all become art critics and tear this new branding scheme down. My chosen field becomes a running gag and / or water cooler talking point.
Random Fan #1 "THAT's the new NFL logo!?!"
Random Fan #2 "It's exactly the same! I could have done THAT!"
Random Fan #1 "How much do you think they paid for THIS?!?"
Random Fan #2 " Hahahaha. I wouldn't have even noticed."
This is not the kind of discussion that benefits any league or team. And you cannot blame the laypersons of the world. Logos and branding are critical, but they aren't reactive in the same way as performance art, live sports, or even movies.
In fact, if the purpose of a "brand" is to subconsciously shape or enhance a person's feelings about a particular product, doesn't it
defeat the purpose to show them how you intend to do so? It really is like a magician explaining the magic trick before performing it.
When the (shameless plug] Manitoba Moose unveiled the new uniforms / logo I designed for them several years back, I worked hand in hand with the VP of Marketing on this very issue. We decided to not release any information beforehand. The first time the fans saw the new uniforms, it was on the backs of their favorite players for the pre-game skate.
And what do you know -- thunderous applause and rave reviews were the order of the night. Why is that, I wonder? Because my designs are the
best ever? No. It's because people can feel free to cheer in that context...in a stadium, with smoke and laser beams and thumping music and
their favorite team warming up.
The stadium shop guys swapped out all the old gear for the new gear in time for first intermission and it sold like hotcakes. That's obviously an apples and oranges comparison. But the point remains the same. NFL, just start using the new logo. Period.
So, that's my verdict on the NFL logo Steve-O. A hearty "Meh...." No real need to change it. Moreover, No need WHATSOEVER to show us in this self-congratulatory fashion.
CZABE REACTS: See. Told you so. Some of us, live and die over this stuff more than you'll ever know!
Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.
A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.