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Sports Team Logo Redesigns Done Right

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› Sports Team Logo Redesigns Done Right
  • Published on April 15, 2015

Sport team logo redesigns are happening across all types of sports this year. The Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball team are the latest in a series of high profile sports teams to redesign logos. They follow close behind recent redesigns unveiled by Cleveland Browns football team and the U.S. Army’s West Point athletic program logo. As many designers enroll in our Illustrator courses to learn how to design logos and work on brand identity, we take a keen interest in high profile brand identity and logo redesign projects, and the story behind the Bucks logo redesign is interesting.

You may expect that the redesign of a professional sports team logo would fall to a big design firm or branding agency, but the Milwaukee Bucks’ logo redesign project was awarded to Doubleday & Cartwright. While they are a New York based firm, they are small, with approximately 25 employees. Although they do some sports related work, with companies such as Nike, they’ve never done complete branding and design work for a professional sports team redesign or rebranding. Yet for this project, they completed the design equivalent of sinking a winning three-point shot right at the buzzer. The redesign appears to be a great success, receiving accolades from the design and basketball communities, as well as the local audience.

A close examination of the buck’s antlers reveals a basketball shape within the inner antlers. The inclusion of the basketball is subtle. The design enhances the experience of the logo, providing a moment of illumination when it is first noticed, and shows great creativity and talent in combining the mascot and the sport.

The body of the buck in the illustrated logo also showcases a nod to the team, as it takes the shape of the letter M. Again, it is done subtly, although less so than the basketball, allowing for the letter to be visible along with the shape of the chest of the buck.

The designers at Doubleday & Cartwright also created a secondary logo which takes the shape of the state, with the team name diagonally across it. Looking more collegiate than NBA, it provides a nod to the statewide enthusiasm for the state school. The designers applied a thin blue accent along the borders that touch Lake Michigan and the state of Minnesota which is separated by rivers. These provide an acknowledgement of the lakes and rivers across the state that embraces the outdoors. The addition of blue trim and a background cream color, while removing the red, are smart design choices. It is the wise use of complimentary colors as well as those that represent the aesthetic of the state and city.

Adobe Illustrator takes a back seat in design process

When most modern designers think of building a logo, they often immediately open their Creative Cloud apps and jump into Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. This design process shows that this isn’t the best first-step. The continued importance of generating ideas, sketching, examining colors and other aspects of working in an analog way. Whether designing a logo suite, or a website, sketching with pencil and paper, and working through design issues plays an important role as the first step in the design process. We teach these principles in our UX design courses, and it’s interesting how similar the sequence and flow is for the designer.

If you are interested in learning more about this specific design project, writer Paul Lukas who follows sports branding has several pieces on this effort available on the ESPN site.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.