There has always been something special about team logos. They represent the sports we enjoy, the teams we follow and support, whilst also embracing history and traditions, not to mention pride for the locations where teams are based.
For all of those reasons, the designs are key elements in what makes a great team logo, as we take a look at some of the best across all the five major professional sports leagues.
The MLS shield logo is often criticized for being too simple and nondescript. Likewise, many MLS teams have gone with either the shield or a roundel logos in their own designs. However, there are two team logos that certainly stand out from the crowd, thanks to some genuine thought going into their design.
New England Revolution
Done the right way, even simple designs can look spectacular, resulting in a clear statement of identity. That’s exactly what New England Revolution achieved by using the American flag, with brushstrokes for the red and white stripes and the soccer ball representing the stars. It’s classic, it’s patriotic, and it speaks volumes of a team who are proud of regional history.
Creative use of imagery is what makes the Vancouver Whitecaps logo an impressive mark of their identity. Using the “V” and “W” of the team name to depict the North Shore Mountains, reflected in the Pacific Ocean, this logo unmistakably represents the city of Vancouver and the scenic location. The colors are also a nod to the historic original NASL team of the 1970’s.
Given such a huge focus on the marketing and branding of their product, the NFL is no stranger to producing some of the most iconic logos in sports. Their own logo is known and recognized the world over, while the team logos are just as impressive. Many of them don’t even feature the team name, yet people still know who they are by the imagery.
Rated as the most valuable sports franchise by Forbes in 2019, one thing you don’t mess with is branding that works. While the latest NFL odds point towards the Dallas Cowboys being outsiders to win the next Super Bowl, the “Lone Star” logo used since 1964 has remained a huge success for the team, not to mention a franchise estimated to be worth $5 billion.
They are the only team in the NFL without a logo on their helmet. That’s perhaps what makes the concept of the Cleveland Browns trademark such a genius idea, using nothing more than the American football helmet sporting their traditional colors. This is classic simplicity, iconic within the NFL, and impossible not to be admired by any football purist.
Back in 2016 when Fox Sports compiled their “30 Greatest Logos in Sports” list, while several NBA teams were present in the rankings, only one featured within the top ten. Quite surprising, really, given that NBA logos are some of the most creative, colorful, and clear in the representation of team names and brands. We’re going to look at two which maybe should have ranked higher in that list.
What’s not to like about that loveable leprechaun logo of the Boston Celtics. There he stands casually, ball perched on one finger, winking with confident knowledge he represents one of NBA’s greatest ever teams. This logo and this team remain fiercely proud of their Irish roots, lovingly preserving a little piece of that Emerald Isle heritage in the city of Boston.
Although they don’t boast the same history as many of the more established NBA teams, when Miami Heat joined as an expansion team in 1988, they also came up with one of the best logos around. As a visual representation of what they hoped to bring fans, the flaming basketball flying through the hoop is perfect, especially sweltering temperatures of southern Florida.
Continuing to grow and expand in recent years, as new franchises join the most popular ice hockey league in the world, the NHL is a competition which remains passionate about its history and traditions. That’s also true for many of the teams, keen to preserve the logos they’ve used for many decades.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Sometimes, a simple design can hide some interesting details. In 2016 the Toronto Maple Leafs launched a redesign of their classic logo, used since they formed part of the Original Six teams during the inaugural 1942-43 NHL season. The new leaf design features 17 veins, commemorating the 1917 franchise foundation, with 13 of those honoring Stanley Cup triumphs. The 31 leaf points also hark back to Maple Leaf Gardens first opening in 1931.
Detroit Red Wings
Another member of the Original Six, the logo used by the Detroit Red Wings has remained the same since the 1940’s. Of course, the red “Winged Wheel” represents the fabled Motor City where the team is located, while the idea for the logo came from James Norris, a millionaire who bought the franchise in 1932 and later rebranded the team.
While many sports use logos which feature imagery of the activity they represent, when it comes to the design, the MLB hits this one out of the park.
Designed by Jerry Dior in 1968, you can almost feel the motion of the player about to strike the ball. The color scheme also set a trend which all the other major American sports followed afterwards, with their own logo redesigns.
New York Yankees
When you’re the most famous MLB team in the world, why settle for just one iconic logo? It’s for this reason we conclude with just one team for the MLB, rather than two as we have with all the other major sports.
The team logo screams “America” and “Baseball” with the stars and stripes top-hat, nestled astride a bat that forms part of the “Yankees” lettering, all within the circle of a stitched ball.
Then there’s the classic “NY” cap insignia, which also features on the classic pinstriped home shirts. Country, city, sport, fans, team… Both of these logos are the perfect combination of everything they aim to represent.
Whatever sport or team you favor, it’s hard to argue with the great designs of the logos we’ve showcased above. Of course, we all have our own favorites and for many different reasons, although that’s part of the fun when looking through such iconic team logos.
Sports Logo History is a community of sports logo enthusiast who enjoys the history of each team’s logo history. Sports Logo History has primary logos, alternate logos, wordmark logos or concept logos from the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, Premier League, WNBA, CFL, NCAA, ABA, USFL, AAF, and XFL.
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