The new chapter begins https://t.co/D9h8D1R4li
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) March 23, 2020
Hello there! The Rams finally revealed their long-awaited color scheme and logo set yesterday. The unveiling took place via the video shown above, and there’s lots of additional info on this website devoted to the new identity. I recommend that you check out that site before reading further.
In addition, I had a video conference with three members of the Rams’ front office, including their creative director, a few hours before the unveiling, so I got some additional insights into the team’s thinking (which I’ll try to sprinkle into the text that follows) and was also able to ask them some questions (which I’ll save for the end of this post).
Before I get to the various elements, it’s worth noting that this was, in some ways, an extremely boilerplate brand presentation, complete with endless references to “storytelling,” cringe-inducing color names (the new shade of yellow is called “Sol,” but come on — it’s just yellow), and the umpteenth repetition of “Respect the past, represent the future.” All of that said, there’s also an intriguing design reference that they’ve chosen to draw upon — a reference I’ve definitely never seen before in a sports branding context — which I’ll explain shortly.
Okay, one element at a time:
The New Colors
As you can see above, they’ve basically taken their throwback colors and made them pop a bit more. I’m fine with that — it’s a good color scheme.
Incidentally, one good reason to refer to the new shade of yellow as, um, “yellow” is that it is literally almost pure yellow, at least on the CMYK scale. Its components are 100% yellow, 9% magenta, and zero black or cyan. In other words: yellow.
The New Primary Logo
There’s a lot to cover here. One thing at a time:
• We all knew that the logo on the leaked draft cap wasn’t going to match the colors or the format of the actual logo. How close was it? Here’s a side-by-side comparison:
• The logo has two gradients. I don’t necessarily see that as a good thing or a bad thing — it’s just a thing. But the Rams are apparently very proud of the gradient. During yesterday’s video conference, they repeatedly mentioned that they believed no other major-level pro team currently uses a gradient. They also stressed that this new brand identity is geared for gradient-friendly digital presentation, including social media and their new stadium’s high-def video boards. The flip side of that, as several observers pointed out to me yesterday afternoon, is that gradients can be difficult to reproduce in analog formats, like embroidery.
• There are additional versions of the logo, as well as additional info about the various shades of orange and grey, on this logo slick, which was tweeted yesterday by @MakersofSport:
• The intriguing design reference I mentioned earlier is the Fibonacci spiral, also known as the golden spiral, or the golden ratio (which once came up here on Uni Watch as a way of deconstructing the most famous photo of “The Catch”). Here’s how the logo fits into this iconic spiral pattern:
The idea is that the spiral represents many things: a ram’s horn, sure, but also a southern California ocean wave, the spiral of a passed football, the shape of their new stadium, and more. (At one point, as a way of playing along, I said, “Oh, and the left segment of the horn is also a crescent moon,” a seemingly obvious observation that the Rams folks appeared to be a bit surprised by.) It’s an interesting approach — I think we can safely say that no previous NFL team has ever referenced a 13th-century mathematician in its logo unveiling — although it’s not exactly the most straightforward thing on which to base a brand identity.
I wondered if the Rams planned to make Fibonacci a household name, which would be pretty great on several levels (among other things, “Fibonacci” is just a cool-sounding word — say it out loud and see for yourself), but they said no. I think maybe the rest of us should make it a thing. Let’s call it the Fibonacci logo!
• Fibonacci notwithstanding, the idea is that the segmented horn will become sufficiently familiar and iconic to function in multiple contexts, including just by itself:
Is that terrible? No. But is it better than their current horns? Also no. I’m hoping they stick with the existing helmet design, but that seems unlikely.
• So does that mean that the Rams’ new helmet will feature this new segmented horn? They’re not saying. But here’s a rough sense of how that might look:
quick mockup of how the new Rams logo could look on the helmet pic.twitter.com/T54lNk85Jq
— MadeByTim (@MadeByTim) March 23, 2020
• After the draft cap leaked, there were lots of jokes about the logo: It looked like the Rams’ and Chargers’ logos had a baby, it looked like the Firefox logo, it looked like Donald Trump’s hair, blah-blah-blah. But after yesterday’s unveiling, several folks pointed out a more serious problem, namely that the new logo appears to owe a heavy stylistic debt to Angelo State University:
Who did it better, the Rams or Angelo State University? pic.twitter.com/EtPa3mBTN8
— Taylor Jenkins (@TJenkinsTampa) March 23, 2020
Obviously, I don’t think the Rams intended to rip off a D2 school in Texas. But it’s a bit embarrassing that they came up with something so similar, even if only inadvertently. I’ve asked Angelo State for comment and will report back if/when I hear from them.
• Overall: I don’t much care for it. The “A” feels really forced, the segmentation seems unnecessary, I can’t un-see the crescent moon, it bugs me that the bottom of the crescent has a rounded tip while the top of the crescent and the top of the other segment both have pointed tips, and whole thing feels very 1980s to me.
Still, as I said when the draft cap leaked, the Rams’ primary logo doesn’t matter as much as most other teams’ logos, because they’re not going to wear this logo on their helmet (presumably). If this logo is just something we see as their Twitter avatar or their midfield logo, it’s not really that big a deal.
• Oh, speaking of which: It looks like it will be their midfield logo, at least based on some renderings now scattered around their website, like this one:
As you can see, there’s also a new wordmark in the end zones, which leads us to…
The New “Lockup” Wordmark
I like the primary logo a lot more in this context, when it’s combined with the word “Rams.” There’s more sense of flow, and the things I don’t like about the primary design don’t stand out as much. This should be fine as an end zone mark.
The New Full Team Wordmark
Unlike all the other typography, this mark is not italic. It seems fine (I especially like the “S”), but it’s hard to assess it without knowing how it’s going to be used. I asked which contexts this logo — and all of the logos — would likely be appearing in but was told I’d have to wait and see.
The New Ram’s Head Logo
This is the latest variation of a logo that the Rams have used since 1946:
I like the colors, and even the segmented horn looks better in this context. But I really wish there were more detail and definition in the face. It feels unfinished. One observer has already improved it:
— (@Jim_Everett) March 23, 2020
But again, logos don’t matter so much for the Rams, because their helmet is really their de facto logo. So we’ll get a better sense of how this new identity works when we see the uniforms.
And that brings us to the questions that I asked the Rams people at the end of their presentation to me. Here’s how that went:
Uni Watch: Will the primary logo be appearing on the new helmet?
Cory Befort, Rams Creative Director: We really can’t talk yet about the uniforms.
UW: Were the logos designed by Nike, or by your in-house design staff, or by an outside agency?
Befort: It was a collaboration between the NFL, Nike, and our in-house design team.
UW: When the draft cap leaked, a lot of the reaction I saw — and I’m sure you did as well — was that having the horn separated into sections made it look somewhat reminiscent of the Chargers’ lightning bolts. You’re sharing similar colors, you’re sharing a stadium, you’re sharing a city — was that a consideration, that the sectioned horn created a visual effect similar to the Chargers’ brand?
Befort: I don’t want to talk about the hat specifically, because that’s an NFL thing. In our brand guidelines, you are not allowed to make a ghosted or inverted version of our logo [like the one that appeared on the draft cap]. The NFL wanted to go with this neon look for the draft, and that breaks our internal brand guidelines. So that mark should never be utilized that way, it should never be seen that way, and it doesn’t exist in our identity system at all.
UW: But even the actual version of your logo, the official version, you’re not concerned that it could be perceived that way?
Befort: No, I don’t think so. I think the fact that we’re leveraging the shape of that horn, and when you see it across the board, in its totality — I think there was just a circumstance where a version leaked out that created a perception that we didn’t get to tell our narrative the way we wanted. And that’s just the way the world works sometimes. It’s disappointing that we weren’t able to tell our story the way we wanted to, but we still feel really confident and really good about the entire system in its totality.
UW: When will the uniforms be unveiled?
Joanna Hunter, Senior Director, Corporate Communications: Considering the state of the world, we can’t commit to a date right now.
UW: Even before the world turned upside-down, your stated plan was to unveil the the logos and colors before the draft and the uniforms after the draft. What was the thinking behind that? Why not unveil all of it at once?
Befort: From a brand perspective, the idea that you could have multiple splashes over the course of a year, it gives you a better opportunity to reach the masses. And especially with us being relatively new and back in the [L.A.] market, I think that just makes sense, from a brand perspective.
Tyrel Kirkham, VP of Merchandise: To build on that, based on my experience in Brooklyn [Kirkham previously worked for the Nets — PL], it’s good to have a chance to get multiple bites of the apple and give people time to digest what just launched. In this instance, given the complexity associated with our new identity system, we felt it was of the utmost importance to really leverage that moment, allow people to get familiar with what we launched, and then have another moment later on that would connect the dots.
UW: Is there anything you can tell me — anything at all — about the uniforms?
Befort [laughing]: They will match.
UW: Okay, here’s a question that sort of straddles the logo and uniform situations: I’m assuming there will be an inaugural-season patch for your new stadium?
Hunter [smiling and shaking her head “No”]: I’m going to keep shaking my head.
UW: Okay, okay. I know you guys don’t currently have a first-round draft pick, but it’s possible that you could trade up, and then you’d have a situation where your first-rounder could be photographed at the draft posing with your current or outgoing jersey.
Hunter: Paul, I don’t know if you know [Rams GM] Les Snead, but it’s very unlikely that we will trade up for a first-rounder. Also, given how the NFL has changed the draft this year, we’re not sure how they’re going about featuring which players, or getting hats or jerseys to them.
And there you have it. I’m not really sold on this package, but assessing the logos without seeing the uniforms is like assessing an appetizer without knowing what the entrée will be. I look forward to sitting down to the full meal sometime after the draft.
Meanwhile, an interesting loose end: In that unveiling video at the top of this entry, there’s a scene set at the Riddell helmet factory. As many observers quickly noted, the footage appears to show a batch of Patriots throwback helmets (click to enlarge):
Some people have seized upon this as evidence that New England is bringing back Pat Patriot. Personally, I don’t buy it. For one thing, that could be old B-roll footage, and/or those could be souvenir helmets or mini-helmets, and/or a few other things. Which leads us to the next section of today’s post — see below.
(My thanks to Donovan Moore for pointing me toward that logo slick.)
And hey, speaking of the NFL…: We’ve known for a long time now that the Rams, Bucs, Browns, and Falcons would be unveiling new uniforms this spring. But there have also been rumors swirling about three other teams: the Chargers, Patriots, and Colts.
I’ve been unable to confirm those rumors, but they now appear to be true. Associated Press writer Joe Reedy — a reputable source — confirmed the news yesterday with this tweet:
Logo and uniform changes: #Rams, #Chargers
Uniform changes: #Falcons, #Bucs, #Patriots, #Browns
Logo/uniform tweaks: #Colts
Usually you get only 2 or 3 per season. Seven is unheard of https://t.co/Kwxri6b8fN
— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) March 23, 2020
So what can we tell from these tea leaves? Let’s go team by team:
• Rams: Nothing new to learn here, obviously.
• Bucs: This confirms what I’ve already reported, namely that their new uni set is keeping the current logo.
• Browns: Nothing we didn’t already know.
• Falcons: The news here is that they’re changing their uniforms but not their logo (which had been hinted at but not confirmed until now).
• Chargers: It’s hard to know what to make of this, since a “new logo” could be just a new secondary mark, and a “uniform change” could just be a new alternate uni. In any case, it’s surprising. But on the other hand, the Chargers, like the Rams, are moving into a new stadium (the same stadium), so maybe it’s not so surprising after all. Anyway, maybe the new Rams logo won’t look so Chargers-like after all once this is over!
• Patriots: Again, “uniform change” could simply mean a new alternate — like, say, the long-rumored throwback. That’s what I’m expecting, especially since they’re apparently not getting a new logo (which means no Pat Patriot, despite the glimpse of him in that Rams video).
• Colts: Just “tweaks.” A team spokesman has already told me that they’re not changing their pants striping. Maybe they’re finally ditching the Flywire and graduating to the new tailoring template? That would be my guess for the uni tweak, although it doesn’t address the logo tweak. Hmmmm.
In any case, it looks like I’ll have plenty to write about in the weeks to come, despite the sports world’s shutdown.
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By Brinke Guthrie
This week was supposed to be opening week for the National Pastime, but we all know how that worked out. (And yes, baseball will always be the National Pastime, no matter what Roger Goodell says.) But while we may not have the games, we still have our love for the game, so let’s get started with a team whose logo we all know and love, the Montreal Expos. These two media guides from 1978 and 1979 look great. On the left we’ve got the Hawk and the Kid; on the right, a series of team logos. (Cue Todd Radom for his treatise on just what that logo means.) So why does it say “Guide Media”? Is that a French language quirk written en anglais?
Now for the rest of this week’s picks:
• Mets catcher Mike Piazza gets the “pop art” treatment on this stylish poster.
• This sticker says “’70 Belongs to the Senators.” Just two seasons later, they’d be in Arlington as the Rangers. (And for those scoring at home, 1970 ended up not belonging to the Senators. They went 70-92 and finished in sixth place.)
• This promo belt buckle from NBC says “AFC on NBC 20th Anniversary 1984.” Hmmm, were they also taking into account the AFL, since the AFC didn’t exist until 1970?
• Staying with the Peacock network, I think this NBC polo shirt is a bit of an attention-grabber given the garish color scheme. The tag says “In the Paint, For the Player On and Off the Court.”
• The Phillie Phanatic stars on this 1979 Phillies season schedule poster.
• Going back even further for the Phillies, admire the simplicity of this 1942 media guide.
• This San Francisco Giants ticket brochure artwork plays up the fact that you’ve gotta be a hardy soul (or slightly crazed, as the illustration suggests) to catch a game at the ’Stick.
• The New York Daily News printed up this Keith Hernandez poster sometime in the 1980s.
• Dig the totally 1970s font on the front of this Bobby Orr puzzle.
• Sportscaster Brent Musburger signed this copy of the Broward Dolphins Booster Club program for Earl Morrall Night at the Inverrary Country Club on Nov. 16, 1976. Notice the helmet drawing has the Griese-style facemask.
Membership update: Most people ordering a membership card use their own surname as the NOB. A few use a favorite athlete’s surname. And then there are the people who use the NOB for a slogan or message. That’s the case with Ryan Smith’s new Nationals-themed card. The Nats’ postseason slogan in 2019 was “Finish the Fight,” and of course that’s just what they did — hence Ryan’s “Finished 19” design. Nicely done.
Ryan’s card is part of a new batch that’s been added to the membership card gallery, as we continue to work our way through the huge surge of March orders (thank you!).
Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.
ITEM! Pin raffle: Last week we raffled off a hoodie that was generously donated by reader Brandon Lenk. He also has an extra winged stirrup pin, so we’re going to raffle that off today.
This will be a one-day raffle. To enter, send an email with your mailing address to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tonight. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Big thanks to Brandon for sponsoring this one!
By Alex Hider
Baseball News: Reds beat writer and longtime friend of Uni Watch C. Trent Rosecrans shared the story of his favorite piece of memorabilia — a jersey worn by former Reds pitching coach Dick Pole, who kept his jersey hemmed high so he could wear a pullover above it and keep it untucked (from Quentin Tingle). … Someone made an impressive paper model of old Yankee Stadium (from James Burke). … The Toledo Mud Hens are asking kids to design a new team jersey (from Matt Rashford). … The Amarillo Sod Poodles, the Padres’ Double-A affiliate, will wear gold-accented caps every Monday in honor of their 2019 Texas League championship (from Ignacio). … Kansas City is urging people to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic with a logo that became popular as a T-shirt during the Royals’ World Series runs in 2014 and 2015. Speaking of the Royals, that’s longtime 2B and current Jackson County Executive Frank White standing behind the podium and to the left (from Ron Baker). … The Korean team Lotte Giants held an intrasquad scrimmage in an empty ballpark yesterday, with most of the players wearing surgical masks. “Interestingly enough, the pitcher was still allowed to lick his fingers (while off the rubber) before pitching the ball — um,” says John Exby. You can see video of the entire game here.
Football News: A huge Twitter thread broke out yesterday that shows the helmets of high school teams from across the country (from Steve Bradley). … Here’s a history of Florida’s mascots — Albert and Alberta Alligator (from Kary Klismet).
NBA News: The rock band Wilco is selling a T-shirt based on the Raptors’ “Earned” jersey (from Roy Weiss). … A designer has mocked up dozens of NBA jerseys to represent neighborhoods in the Dallas area (from Chris Mycoskie). … Reader Derek Linn was watching Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb give an update about his state’s response to the pandemic and spotted what appears to be the layout of a basketball floor on an easel behind him. It appears the floor has a Pacers logo in the left lane, an Indiana Fever logo in the right lane, the Indiana state flag in the center circle, a high school three-point line, and a restricted area arc in both lanes which appears in every level except high school.
College Hoops News: Reader Daniel O’Hara’s mom was cleaning out some boxes and came across this button from Seton Hall’s 1989 Final Four run (and while not hoops-related, she also found this 1984 Olympics patch).
Soccer News: Inter Miami FC is promoting social distancing by separating the herons in their crest. Their legs are usually interlocked (thanks to all who shared). … La Liga has finally suspended its season. … Lots of kit leaks from Josh Hinton: RB Leipzig of the Bundesliga’s 2020-2021 third jerseys, Tottenham’s 2020-2021 third jersey, and PSG’s 2020-2021 third jersey. See more kit leaks over at Football Kit Watch. … The Australian A-League’s Newcastle Jets have been wearing a hashtag on the front of their jerseys in support of the victims of the country’s bushfires (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Scottish side Ayr United will now be outfitted by Hummel. “New shirt coming later today as well,” says Ed Zelaski.
Grab Bag: With no sports going on, a British rugby broadcaster is staying sane by doing hilarious play-by-play of his everyday life (NYT link) and sharing it on Twitter. … Speaking of, Fox’s Joe Buck is offering to do play-by-play for other people’s lives (from Ignacio Salazar). … Santini, an Italian cycling apparel company that’s the outfitter for the sport’s governing body, the UCI, has converted its factory to making surgical masks (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Golf Digest is running a March Madness-style bracket to determine the greatest golf course architect of all time (from Kary Klismet). … Speaking of brackets, here’s one to determine the best Italian pro volleyball logo (from Guy Fish). … One more: This bracket looks to determine the most stylish tennis outfit (from Bastien Fachan). … The U.S. Navy has updated its religious accommodations policy and will allow Sikh sailors to wear turbans for the first time (from Timmy Donahue). … Also from Timmy, the Park Forest (Ill.) Police Department has retired badge No. 204 in honor of an officer who was critically wounded on the job in 2016. … It seems inevitable that the Olympics will be cancelled,
but for now the torch relay is still set to start on Thursday — but with a lantern being carried by a vehicle on empty streets. Check that: The Olympics are now officially postponed.
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What Paul did last night : Although you can’t really see it in the photo (which is just one of the problems with the truly terrible photo I took), it rained all day yesterday in Brooklyn, so the front section of our porch got wet and we had to bring out the deck chairs instead of just sitting on the top step like we usually do. Budweiser for me, white wine for the Tugboat Captain.
Since it was cold and rainy, there were no dogs for us to say hi to as they walked by, and none of our neighbors were on their respective porches. It felt like we were the only people in the world who were (stupid enough to be) outside. It’s supposed to be sunny and warmer today.
All of the porch cocktail photos can be found here. Everyone out there stay healthy, safe, and sane — we’re all in this together. — Paul