It’s important to recognize success. These three logos are, in my book, examples of such. They are all different in their approach to heralding their club, but all come with high ranks in branding. They represent well the tenants, discussed earlier here, which I believe identify a sports team mascot and name: ferocity, pride, and uniqueness. They typify their club’s value, the meaning behind their mascots, an air of competition, and a sense of spirit. Let’s digest them a bit, and see what we can learn from their design.
The Hartford Whalers
The Hartford Whalers were a professional hockey team based in Hartford, Connecticut for nearly 20 years before moving to Raleigh North Carolina in 1997 to become the Carolina Hurricanes. They underwent several changes to their branding in their existence, had a passionate fan base, but ultimately could not hold the ground between the larger New York City and Boston teams. The logo was designed by Peter Good in 1979, of Cummings & Good, a successful graphic design studio based in Chester, Connecticut. The brilliance that Good brought to the brand here is the impressive use of negative/positive space nesting the typographic H and W both comfortably and with spry appeal. Besides the negative H and the positive W, the only other graphic mark needed is a positive form representing the whale tail that so fluidly follows the symmetrical whimsy of the W. Two positives and three features, and the designer has done it all. Does it deliver ferocity? Perhaps not, but the team was more bent on pride, something it certainly contains and represents. You’ll get that a lot from teams utilizing green and blue, conjuring the pleasure of their land and sea locales (certainly an inspiration for the Seattle Mariners). The Hartford Whalers logo still speaks volumes past their prime as a touchstone for simplicity and vitality all in a unique brand mark.
Shown is his original logo which was later adapted to incorporate more grey, darker colors and adjustments to the forms in 1991, but the original merits view as it holds a strong presence without the bulky tanked-in armor that the club believed it needed.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC
I don’t know much about the Vancouver Whitecaps FC other than they’re a relatively new soccer team in the MLS, and that I’m very drawn to their logo. In many ways it is accomplishing an atmosphere that is both sporty and frozen, but all the while attributed to the mountainous locale for which they are named (three prominent white capped mountains, Grouse, Cypress and Seymour). Further, the titanic-feeling mountains are accompanied and graphically supported by a reflective motif illustrating an enormous clear lake at the base of the whitecaps. This makes the logo into an impressive landscape painting while still containing all within it a sharp and icy emblem. Typographically speaking, their font is concise enough, but they’re even willing to cleverly push that mountainous motif to the point of referential with a V and W hiding in the terrain. The Whitecaps’ logo comes with depth, pride, atmosphere and clarity. Successful I would say.
The Minnesota Wild
Finally onto the logo for the Minnesota Wild. At the beginning of my process with the New England Nor’easters monthly brand project, I canned the Winter Classic logo for shoving too many ideas into one brand mark. I would now like to tout how many ideas can indeed work together, so long as they are in unison, thematically and visually. The Minnesota Wild logo has a lot going on in it: looking closely you’ll find a moon (or setting sun), clouds, a shooting star, pine trees, a river and a bear-like animal’s profile. Thematically, they are perfect; they speak not only to wild animals, but wild environment in general. Visually, they are colliding in an artistic way to represent that wild animal’s profile (the river is its gaping roaring mouth, the shooting star is its eye, the setting sun its bear-like ear, etc). To me, this is a brilliant collage logo that has successfully built a conglomerate image from an abstract idea. It’s carried over into a palette that is less binary, giving it a sophisticated air with a majestic set of colors like Forest Green, Iron Range Red, Harvest gold, and Minnesota wheat.
But the real meat of the matter here is that it gets top ranks in all three departments of the sports team logo qualities. It is clearly ferocious, perhaps the most vicious ever as it is literally the embodiment of feral nature. It is prideful in its spirit for Minnesota’s landscape and locale through illustrative representations of such. And it is quite possibly the most unique mascot I have heard of, capitalizing big time on the abstractness scale to rope in whatever interpretations of the team you’d like, clearly displayed in the execution of its logo. The Wild is both a bear and a stream, it’s the infinite night sky and venerable pines. A hockey team that takes on this label can play with savagery, dignity and singularity all at once, and feel like they have a flag that represents them perfectly.
SME Marketing was the Minnesota Wild creative team that brought a new face to the expansion team back in 2000. And here and here are interesting looks at the roundup of previous logos on the docket before SME won the bid with their campaign.