Over the years, designing sport logos has introduced our designers to a wide range of sports, athletic disciplines and specialties. Since launching our design company in 1996, we’ve tackled almost every sport imaginable – baseball, basketball, football, hockey (the Meadowvale Hawks hockey team logo featured), watersports, motorsports and martial arts to name but a few. We’ve also worked on identities for sports related businesses – fitness & exercise clubs for example. Just like their corporate counterparts, a great logo is vital to a team’s brand, perhaps even more so, in terms of rallying player and fan support, marketing sporting events and even selling branded team merchandise. There are very few set-in-stone rules when it comes to the concepts for sports themed logos, other than encompassing the ‘spirit’ of the sport, or athletic activity itself.
Before coming up with even the most rudimentary logo design ideas, any designer tackling a sports design project needs to have a full understanding of the planned applications. If the design is to be used to represent a consumer focused, sales related company = sporting goods for example – then we can generally stick to the usual design rules and applications in typical corporate logo projects. However, if the design is to be used to represent an actual sports team, then we need to approach the project from a different angle. Sports team logos need to invoke fan enthusiasm and loyalty, as well as be technically practical for application on the usual team paraphernalia – team jerseys and the like. A solid knowledge of file formats is a prerequisite.
Sport logos need to be adaptable for marketing and advertising applications. Sponsorship and advertising deals mean that these kind of identities are among the most heavily used types of logos in the industry. Sports teams are particularly fond of cartoon and mascot themed designs, but designers are sometimes limited in the scope of technical approaches they can take – sports team logos need to reproduce on a wide range of materials, some of which are not too forgiving with technically complex designs. Embroidery for example, is one such limiting application. Sports teams using characters as part of their logo also have to keep an eye on originality – there’s only so many ways a designer can render a specific character, and it’s highly likely that a similar character exists out there somewhere (here’s a few ways to make sure you’re designing an original logo). There have been a spate of recent copyright and trademark disputes where various sports teams have duked it out over ducks, sharks and bulldogs they claim are being used unfairly by someone else. The Design Copycats of the sports world.
When it comes to developing a sport themed logo, the application of colors is a very practical concern. More often than not, the team colors have already been decided beforehand, and the designer will have to incorporate those colors into the logo design with little, or no say. That can be trying, especially of the palette is some funky full color setup. If the designer is lucky enough to get in on the ‘bottom floor’ – getting in on the logo design process from the hop – they have to choose colors wisely. These colors will be used on uniforms, team paraphernalia and other marketing trinkets and will have to stand on their own, with or without the presence of the team logo itself. Another thing to keep in mind, and the stumbling block of many team mascots, is the cultural sensitivity of any characters that are used. There’s been a fairly vocal movement against established sports icons, cartoon logos and mascots that utilize cultural or ethnic stereotypes, often resulting in the dismantling of popular sports icons, and the rebranding of teams with tamer, more politically correct artwork. Best bet is to avoid any cultural references completely.
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