SXSWorld November 2015


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2 8 S X S W o r l d | N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 5 | S X S W. C O M ther than maybe a star player, for many fans, the most rec- ognizable things about a professional sports franchise are its logo and jersey set: the Dallas Cowboys' star, the New York Yankees' pinstripes, the Detroit Red Wings' wheel and wing logo or the Chicago Bulls' sneering bull. Sometimes, a team's greatest challenge is to find that distinctive identity. Since arriving in 1968, the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks have been char- acterized by the deer, stretching across four different logos, prior to their recent rebranding. They have switched color schemes over the years with white and forest green in constant use, but with red or purple as a third color at different points in time used across eight distinct jersey sets. The most recent set, which had been in use since 2007, contained a forest green, white and dark red palette. The red, though, because of the shape of the logo and the color's placement on the jersey set, often dominated the other colors with the meshing of green and red together, giving a wintry, Christmas-y feel, even as seasons pushed into April. Not only that, but this particular iteration of the deer (the same one that had been in use since 1993) looked both out- dated and docile, putting the lie to the team's catchy "Fear the Deer" marketing slogan. It was into this environment that a new ownership group led by Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry strode in April 2014. Months after taking over, a representative (Lasry's son, Alex, who works in the front office) commissioned Doubleday & Cartwright, a New York City-based advertising agency that had never done this type of work before, to create the fresh logo that would also be used as a template for the team's jersey designs. "The deer as an animal is traditionally a prey animal rather than a predator animal," says Christopher Isenberg, D&C's co-founder. "We all love the '60s and '70s and that first logo, but the team didn't want to go back to the playful past." The man in charge of the project was Kimou Meyer, D&C's co- founder and creative director. "The original challenge was to make that deer more fearful, look younger and have more attitude," he says. "It was also a challenge to create a bit more of a story related to the heritage of the city, something that the current design didn't have at the time. Also the color palette. The new ownership was really not feeling the color palette." Meyer and his team elected to keep the dark green and white, but replace red with a combination of colors connecting the team not just to the city of Milwaukee but also to the entire state of Wisconsin. "We added blue in the color palette to have it tie into the lakes and the rivers of Wisconsin," Meyer says. "We also used cream because it's called the dairy lands, and it was an homage to the color of the bricks of all the factories in Milwaukee." "Like Akron is 'Rubber City,' " Isenberg adds. "Sometimes they call Milwaukee 'The Cream City.' " The logo set that resulted from D&C's redesign has widely been considered a smashing success, having been lauded on and Grantland, as well as in design circles. The deer in the primary logo looks more fearsome; the NBA-mandated basketball-themed secondary logo incorporates the M-shaped neckline of that deer; and the tertiary logo is one of just two in the league to incorporate the state shape into the logo, which makes the set even more unique. Once a logo set is created, it becomes the basis not just for a team's jerseys, but also its entire brand off the court, with everything tying into the look, feel and identity of the team. "Everything we do has similar themes," explains Will Tullos, a designer who works for the Houston Rockets. "We have a color pal- ette of red, gray, black and mustard yellow. And we have retro logos that we use. Sometimes we delve into space themes, because of the Rockets, but we like to keep a consistent brand standard and not go too far outside of that." Tullos and the team he works with design aspects of the team's website within a template provided by the NBA, billboards and logos for things like charity runs, children's events and other community activities. "Every year, we come up with a different theme," he says. The Rockets, like the Bucks, have had various logo sets over the years. The team has existed since 1971 and is on its fourth primary logo, fifth jersey set and third color scheme. Tullos says they dip into some of the retro stuff—particularly from the 1994 and 1995 cham- pionship teams—but they mostly work within the current design slate because that's what the team's identity is to current customers and fans. Being able to sell aspects of the past, whether for pure nostalgia or in merchandising, helps, but your primary logo and jersey are the team's identity. It's important to get everything right. T SXsports will take place Friday, March 11 - Sunday, March 13. For more info, see Design Ideas Crucial to Sports Franchise Identities by Jared dubin O Le f t : O rig in a l 1 9 6 8 M ilwa u ke e B u ck s lo g o Rig h t : 20 07 lo g o N ew M ilwa u ke e B u ck s' i d e n t ity a s d es ig n e d b y D ou b le d ay & C a r t w rig h t

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