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Make the Super Bowl Logo Great Again

Football Advertising Marketing

In the world of consumer marketing, brand consistency is important – in marketing class, we’re told this fact over and over again. It’s marketing on a higher level – adding trust, reducing confusion, driving loyalty, reinforcing key messaging, and differentiating your brand from the competition.

There’s a reason why the world’s top businesses, like Apple and Google, place such a huge emphasis on getting it right – it’s important stuff.

Knowing all of this, it still doesn’t change my opinion that the NFL’s decision in 2010 to standardize the logo of their annual championship game, the Super Bowl, was the wrong move, announced by the NFL’s design firm, Landor, in 2010:

“The NFL has historically introduced a dramatically different Super Bowl logo every year based primarily on the location of the game, and using roman numerals for greatest impact. Landor’s strategy for the new visual identity system places at the heart of it the Vince Lombardi trophy, given to the Super Bowl’s winning team each year. Depending on the NFL event, the new system allows for complementary elements to be introduced. The released version, for the Arlington 2011 Super Bowl XLV, is the first example of a region-specific identity which will include each year’s stadium venue and the roman numerals to designate the event. This system affords the NFL consistency from year to year, regardless of the playoff event.”

Just like that, the magic was extinguished. Can you spot when the change was made?


Via: The Atlantic (City Lab), NFL.com

No longer did each logo’s colors, imagery, shape, typeface, and theme match the host city’s personality and the design trends of that time. No longer did each Super Bowl stand alone as a unique, stand alone event, completely unique and independent from other years’ big games, like the Super Bowl logos of 1996, 2001, 2003, and 2005 (my personal favorites):

New Orleans’ 1996 Super Bowl logo, paying homage to Mardi Gras.


Via: NFL.com

The 2001 Super Bowl logo, made to invoke a sense of patriotism and unity in the country after the attacks of 9/11.


Via: NFL.com

Houston’s 2003 Super Bowl logo, serving as a tribute to the city’s indelible connection to NASA  and the Johnson Space Center:


Via: NFL.com

Detroit’s 2005 Super Bowl logo, a nod to the city’s rich automobile manufacturing history:


Via: NFL.com
These sort of colorful, imaginative, and completely unique logos were squashed for this template:


Via: SportsLogos.Net

Sure, the Super Bowl logo is now consistent and uniform, but to what end? The Super Bowl isn’t a brand that’s shown off to the public year around, where it would truly benefit from a consistent look. Rather it’s a one-time event, in the public’s consciousness for about a week each year. What’s the point in establishing brand consistency for something you’ll see once a year and probably forget about in a month?

As marketers, we need to do a better job of ensuring creativity isn’t sacrificed in the name of branding consistency. It’s crucial we find that right balance of creativity while delivering on the needs of the business and end-user.

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