With the all-time high popularity of pro football, helped in part by the colorful cast of characters both on the field and on the various NFL shows, the league has decided that the best way to capture the excitement and unpredictable nature of the game is to… drum roll please… punctuate the championship game by standardizing the Super Bowl logo as a bland, lifeless identity.
I suppose the logo, in and of itself, is nice enough. But, after yesterday’s game and some of the thrilling finishes of the last few years, it hardly seems like a logo worthy of a day that has become an unofficial holiday to some.
Since I am a designer who has an affinity for logos and identity design, I may be more sensitive to this than most. In fact, many may let out a collective yawn and wonder why I’m getting my knickers in a twist about it.
I think it comes down to the fact that since about 1992 (and you can throw the Super Bowl XXI logo in there, too) the unique logos for each game and have been infused with symbolism of the city where the game is played that year. It’s a chance for the city to show off at one of the most widely-watched events of the year and the logo can embody that and more.
So now that’s pretty much gone. As logolounge.com describes it, the logo is now some space-faring phallus which returns to earth once a year in a slightly morphed form from it’s exposure to gamma radiation. Gone is the character. In it’s place, a monolithic, Illustrator-chromed, testimony that the NFL was tired of having to—gasp!—redesign the logo of their ultimate game year after year after year.
To honor the NFL’s wonderful decision, I have listed what are—in my opinion—the 5 best Super Bowl logos. Thanks to sportslogos.net for the library of all Super Bowl logos kept there. It will be some time before you see Super Bowl logos with this much character and charm.
In no particular order:
Super Bowl XXXVIII, Houston, 2004
Probably best known for the infamous “wardrobe malfunction”, this logo represents much of the personality and history of Houston and Texas. Aside from the colors reminding me of the old color scheme of the Houston Astros—that’s baseball, I know, but that’s what it looks like to me—the things I see in this logo is the western style typeface, the lone stars, the orbiting swooshes (NASA), and the points which could be interpreted as conceptual “steer horns”. All-in-all, a logo that represents Houston/Texas as well as the game.
Super Bowl XXXIX
Simplicity is always a goal I strive for when designing an identity and this logo does that very well. The iconic Main Street Bridge is depicted with the flowing waters of the St. Johns River below. Simple and elegant.
Super Bowl XXXIII
Unless you’re a big fan of Don Johnson, one of the first images that may come to mind when you think of Miami is the wonderful Art Deco architecture that dots the landscape of the South Beach area. Again, simplicity is king as just a very few shapes represent an entire art movement and captures one of the things that makes Miami unique.
Super Bowl XXXVI
Less than six months after terrorists attacked America and killed over 3,000 innocent people, the country was still suffering some shock over how the world had changed in one day. Not the original logo for this game, it was redesigned in response to the dramatic changes endured in the months prior and, rightly so, the Super Bowl became an event for all Americans to rally around and, if only for a few hours, put the realities of life aside. Punctuated by a thrilling game (48-yard field goal to win the game as time expired) and a moving half-time show by U2, this logo may not be the best design, but it is certainly the most appropriate. And is it only fitting that the Patriots won the game?
Super Bowl XXXI
Lastly, in honor of the newly crowned Super Bowl Champions, New Orleans Saints. During a time when their team was still looking for playoff victories, let alone a championship New Orleans still knew how to party and this logo says just that. The atypical color scheme immediately stands out from the other logos as Mardi Gras stamps its’ imprint on the biggest game of the year. Probably a bit daring for the time and showing some sophistication. The triangular “contours” are somewhat dated but all-in-all, this logo holds up well.
So that’s my list and what I think of them. What do you think? Do you have a Super Bowl logo you believe should bump one of these off the list? Am I full of hot air or spot on? Let me know what you think. Cheers, and only about 5 and a half months until training camps open.