The Big Game Branding Showdown

Forget the records. Forget the stats. Forget the players. Forget the coaches. Forget the owners. Forget the mascots.

The only thing that matters going into the big game is the branding. Okay, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but as a designer, I find all aspects of the branding of a team just as important as the actual game plan. It doesn’t matter if you have a solid core of young players and the coach that’s supposed to be the next big thing, if your helmet design is terrible, you simply will not succeed (looking at you, Jacksonville Jaguars). With that idea in mind, and the fact that countless people who can write better than me have already covered the actual team and player matchups ad nauseam, I will briefly cover the following categories and declare a winner for each:

  • Current Logo Design
  • Wordmark
  • Jersey Design
  • Throwbacks

This straightforward, no bias (I hate the Patriots) analysis will go a long way to determine who is going to win the big game (of branding).


Current Logo Design

(Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots)
Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons have one of the more modern logos in the league, having updated it in 2003. While the old logo also did an okay job of forming the hidden “F” of the logo, this newer, sleeker logo really makes it shine. It also does a great job of making the falcon look angry and mean, where the old logo looked confused or upset (you’ll get to see later). Initially, I thought the thick outer border might have been too much, but this border helps the logo work on so many different mediums, so many props on that effect.

Patriots

The New England Patriots have technically been using this logo since 2000, but it also existed with a different color scheme from ’93 to ’99. Sigh….I am trying to find something nice to say about this logo—I really am. The color scheme is nice and subdued compared to what previously existed, and it also features a white border (which you can’t really see above), but outside of that area, I am at a loss for nice things to say. This logo has a nickname “The flying Elvis” because of its resemblance to the profile of the famous singer. I guess it’s meant to resemble a flag blowing in the breeze? I don’t know, but I think it failed on execution completely. Also, the star—don’t stare too hard at it; the design just makes the effect worse. What happened to the star?

WINNER:

FALCONS


Wordmark

(Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots)
Falcons

The type in the wordmark for the Falcons carries over the flair of the feathers in the logo, with definite mixed results. By the time my eye gets to the end of examining each letter in Falcons, I am pretty bored with the single flair on a pretty simple letter design. While it works well when combined with the logo, when the wordmark has to stand on its own, it’s a bit wobbly.

Patriots

I want to hate this wordmark because of those weird flairs on the “A” and the “T,” but I also kind of love them. The sense of motion and movement that little bend in the bottom of the type goes a long way for this wordmark. While the actual type is a standard sports typeface, the little touches New England added help it stand out.

WINNER:

PATRIOTS


Uniform Design

(Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots)
Falcons

Each team has a home, away, and alternate uniform every year, but we are focusing on what each team will be wearing in the big game. I will say for both uniforms that I am not a big fan of this modern trend of random splashes of colors on the sleeves and down the sides. I get that the elements are supposed to break up the solid color designs, but it seems noisy to me. The Falcons have a nice red they use, and it is highlighted well in this jersey design. The little pops of black are good, but boy oh boy, those numbers are atrocious.

Patriots

I know I called out the little side and sleeve flairs in the last paragraph, but they seem to work on the Patriots jersey. Maybe it’s the fact that without them, the design would simply be an all-white jersey, but either way, those elements bring something to this jersey. I think a secondary logo needs to become a thing in the NFL; it would really help on the sleeves instead of repeating the same logo, but that is a business decision for all the people buying this design and not wearing it with a helmet I suppose. Flying Elvis aside, I also enjoy the Patriots numbers more then the Falcons, although I am not a big fan of the red highlight around them. While neither jersey is jumping out as a remarkable jersey, I have to give the edge to the Pats here, too.

WINNER:

PATRIOTS


Throwbacks

(Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots)
Falcons Logo

Nooooooooooooo. While the actual shape of this logo is nice and kind of pleasing to look at, I can’t get over the little eye and mouth hanging open. It looks like he was surprised by a monster in a horror movie. There is no sense of movement to this design; it looks like it’s stuffed and mounted on a wall…maybe that’s why it looks surprised?

Patriots Logo

Patriot Pat is life. Patriot Pat is everything that is right with this world. Patriots Pat is almost enough to make me buy Patriots merchandise (not quite enough though). Is he slightly cheesy and overly complicated for a logo? Absolutely. Is it still fantastic? You know it is.

WINNER:

PATRIOTS


Overall Winner:

It seems like this showdown is going to be pretty one sided, much like the real game is going to turn out to be. As much as it hurts me to say this, it seems like the Patriots are the…wait, what is this?

(TB12 Logo)

What is that thing? I know it’s actually the TB12 Brand logo, which is Tom Brady’s sports training company. I totally get that it’s supposed to perfectly mash up a “T” and a “B” and the number “12,” but it almost hurts to try to read it. After careful discussion and analysis from an emergency designer panel, we have no choice but to change our initial ruling.

PATRIOTS

FALCONS

Congrats to the Falcons! You got lucky and were saved by the mistake of one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. Now can you please actually do that in the game?

Hopefully, this fun little examination in branding showed you how a brand can evolve, and how every piece of branding can change how you view a brand. Countless people choose their favorite team, a team they spend their hard-earned money on, simply because they like how the logo looks on a sweatshirt or hat, or how the jersey looks on TV. This thinking can also be true outside of sports, and it’s something to closely examine when refreshing or creating a new brand.

Images via sportslogos.net and tb12sports.com

Post by Zach Rupert