The Milwaukee Bucks appear to be gearing up to announce a new logo change, and started the process, rather awkwardly, on April Foolsâ€™ Day. First the stadium was lit up with Blaze orange (as a joke) and then the apparent new logo (which was not a joke) was sprayed on the pavement outside the stadium. It's important to remember that the official release date is April 13th and most of this is based on what has leaked out so far, so we may see some changes in the pipes.
Anyway, how does the new logo stack up with what weâ€™ve seen in the past?
First of all, compared to the old logo, this is a huge step in the right direction, but weâ€™re still talking in steps, not leaps.
The old logo featured a literal representation of a straight on portrait of a dead-eyed deer with zero personality. No action and no energy, just a deer that was eating in the field one day, then heard a noise and popped itâ€™s head up to see what's up. Then it probably went back to eating grass. Thinking more abstractly, it almost looks like my benign, lazy beagle waiting patiently to get pet. Itâ€™s just not exciting. And really, kind of pathetic.
What we believe is the new deer logo still features a straight on portrait of an unmoving deer, but this time it has angry eyes and giant, stylized antlers.
So at least now we have a logo with some purpose. This is something we can work with.
But it doesn't progress much further than that.
Basketball is a game that involves quick moves, clever tactics, and constant energy, but there is nothing dynamic about this logo. The whole thing is mirrored from right to left. There is nothing interesting about that. I want this deer to be doing something. Not running or fighting or playing basketball, but something as simple as turning its head would tell me itâ€™s a three-dimensional living, breathing, exciting team.
Right now it says "we move from one side of the court to the other."
The design aesthetic switches back and forth between straight lines with hard angles and flowing curves, which can be dynamic, but there doesnâ€™t seem to be any geometric consistency and most of that dynamic remains quarantined. The face is angular while the antlers are curved. The face is stylized while the antlers are rendered too literally. The ears are the only place where I can see a marriage between the two.
Moving on, the font choice is not problematic on its own, but setting it at such a steep curve is. Due to the shape of of the letters, you really have to watch for the way the I, L,W, A, and U interact with each other. In this case, they mostly donâ€™t. Again we see separation between lines and curves. I want them to work together like a team.
The logo hides some clever elements. The smaller set of antlers is reminiscent of a basketball and the neck of the deer hides the a new M logoâ€¦erâ€¦sorta.
That M logo. Some have suggested this new letterform is reminiscent of a deerâ€™s hoof print, but if this was the goal (which I like), it hasnâ€™t been met. Iâ€™m seeing more of a Boba Fett or Magneto (though, to their credit, they are beloved anti-heroes, which makes for good storytelling).
The simplicity of it is nice, too. It has a more recognizable shape than an upside down triangle. Itâ€™s easier for kids to draw, too (donâ€™t underestimate this).
I want to like this new M, but itâ€™s hard to decide if I do because from what I can tell they havenâ€™t settled on a final design. There are currently 3 versions and it looks like theyâ€™re leaning towards the wrong version.
The Mâ€™s that were sprayed outside the Bradley Center have distinctly different proportions than the ones included in the promotional video, which are even more distinctly different from the M in the deerâ€™s neck.
The sprayed Mâ€™s are a little more squat and better proportioned and the terminals of the M have room to breathe.
The M from the video is taller, almost as if they took the sprayed M and squished it horizontally. Thankfully, after much fiddling with Photoshop this doesnâ€™t appear to actually have been the case, but itâ€™s still not good that it FEELS this way. The terminals end much closer together, which is visually uncomfortable. Throw on a stroke (as all sports teams are wont to do) and the video M is confined and strangled.
Moving on the M in the deerâ€™s neck ALSO features completely different proportions. Not a great start to brand identity.
(For what itâ€™s worth, I appreciate the sprayed version the most).
The team colors have also changed, but the green is staying the same. Cream was chosen for the Cream City brick (mkay) but weâ€™ll have to wait and see how this looks on the playersâ€™ uniforms. Cream comes uncomfortably close to the Caucasian skin tone. I come from the cycling world, and Iâ€™ve seen this become problematic in the past.
Apparently the Bucks have also chosen a blue to represent the lakes (mmmmmkaaaaay), but it doesnâ€™t seem to have surfaced in the promotional material so far.
The final word
So in the end, itâ€™s a real mixed bag. This IS an improvement on what we had before. If I were given a t-shirt, I would wear it. It's justâ€¦
But ultimately this analysis, and the design changes in general, may be an exercise in pointlessness. Teams donâ€™t sell tickets and merchandise with design and mascots. They make money with wins. Teams that do well will sell merchandise by the boatloads. Teams that donâ€™t wonâ€™t. Design changes may help to capitalize on the eventual nostalgia, but the only way thatâ€™ll matter is if they can produce the results worth remembering.
"but we'll have to wait and see how this looks on the players' uniforms. Cream comes uncomfortably close to the Caucasian skin tone".....Ummmm, this is pro basketball not the Badgers...lol
I like the new logos. Kinda hard to make a deer look cool but they did a good job in doing what you should do with a sports logo, something classic that can have a somewhat retro feel and still look fresh and new.
As far as the last word in this article I could listen to local sports talk radio and have any caller tell me that at the end of the day it's really about if they win or not.
Milwaukee has some great graphic designers....a logo/branding design contest would have been fun and there would have been some excellent designs submitted...I don't care for the new logo at all....who designed it?
I prefer the older more "cartoonish" Bango smiling, twirling the ball, and wearing the sweater with "B" on it. It seems that with most sports teams they seem to be opting for lean, mean symbols and the same metallic, drab colors rather than the more friendly, cartoonish symbols and brighter, more outlandish colors of say 40 years ago. Not a big fan of today's imaging.
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