Super Bowl Logos – 2 Colors 2 Purpose

-by Andy Dudas 2/2/2021

This is the second installment(part 1 part 3 part 4 part 5) of a five-part series where I break down every logo beginning with the First World Championship Game AFL vs NFL in 1967 up through this year’s Super Bowl 55. Some are basic but not boring, some are very detailed but not overly complex, and some are, well…you’ll see.

For as much as the first twelve SB logos were about the fonts, if not just the words “Super Bowl” themselves, all but one of the next fourteen logos were very much about the Roman numerals and all but two would show a move toward using virtually only shades of red and blue as an exclusive color palette. Most of the first twelve designs mostly used red and blue but this next phase of designs seemed to take a much more obvious “hey we only use red & blue” in their logos.

Super Bowl 13 gives us the most out-of-the-box take on the Roman numerals yet. Using a circle pattern to create some gigantic forms, this design is pretty cool. I believe this is the largest set of Roman numerals we’ve seen so far.

SB 14 shows me promise of designs to come. This feels like the beginning of a trend of being more creative and stylistic and less focused on just basic numbers and letters. The first use of a flowing cursive font dipping in front of the big Roman numerals is a very elegant take on these designs while at the same time showing us a layered look to give a little bit of depth.

Going back to New Orleans for Super Bowl 15 would take us away from reds and blues. A simple design that goes back to the use of shades of brown. Almost too basic as the last couple of designs have started to show us more flavor.

Moving to Detroit for the first time, SB 16’s design would stick with the brown color palette. Nice beveled faces and some glare shining off the leading edges give a strong look which works well. I find the color choices to be a little at odds with the overall design. I like it but it feels like a different choice of colors could’ve made this design even better.

SB 17 would move back to the Rose Bowl for the third time. I love this logo. This logo looks like a real thing from the real world. It almost looks like it could be a hood ornament or a piece of badging on the side of a new car from the 1930s. “Did you see old man Johnson’s new car? He’s driving a Packard Super Bowl XVII.” I love this design.

The big Roman numerals are not showing any signs of slowing down when we look at the logo for Super Bowl 18. The use of a paler blue is a bit of a departure but the ribbon(a first) wrapping around the numerals gives a nice bit of depth. I would’ve maybe liked to have seen some three dimensional effect or shadows for the Roman numerals to flesh this out a bit further.

SB 19 really shows us a stronger focus on some Art Deco themes only slightly hinted at from logos prior. Art Deco designs just lend so well to the real physical world. I can see this as a giant marquee for a theater called “Super Bowl XIX.” A very balanced design that interestingly uses gray as the color covering nearly most all of the real estate but is done so with a good neutral balance from the other colors we see here. Muting the red and blue to match the gray and using white for the prominent faces of the numerals…this is a very nice logo.

Super Bowl 20 looks like it was ripped from the tail section of an Air Force fighter jet. Perfectly balanced. There is nothing wrong with this one. It’s sharp and strong and the Roman numerals are just fantastic. I LOVE this one!

I am skipping over Super Bowl 21 and will discuss it in the next installment in this series. SB 22 is a bit of a different design to me. It looks at first like it belongs in the world of baseball more than it does football. I don’t think it’s a bad design it just seems less than keeping with the last few years of wonderfully progressive logos.

Super Bowl 23 sticking with the vivid red from the previous year’s design, this logo is creatively balanced in a way that doesn’t mess with your head even though it’s not symmetrical. It’s close but it’s not. And now all I am left to wonder is: why not narrow up the I’s just a tad and balance the thing out?! The bottom vertex of the large blue triangle centered with the intersection of the second X is just bananas. It’s pointy, it’s angular…while it looks simple at a glance, I think this is a very creative design. A little depth might have been nice to give it just a little more but this is a good design.

SB 24 brings a ribbon element back for the second time to these designs. With some rolled ends, the ribbon wraps a simple but effective field with the Roman numerals which don’t seem as heavy by bisecting them with thin white lines. This is nice.

The twenty fifth anniversary of the Super Bowl brought to us a strong logo design. SB 25 is remembered for many reasons. Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem as the first Gulf War was commanding so much attention in the world, the Buffalo Bills beginning their four year run of Super Bowls, and most notably the missed field goal with just 8 seconds left in the game. For me…I remember this logo. It reminds us of the NFL shield logo and they found a creative way of centering and balancing the Roman numerals.

Super Bowl 26’s design feels very bright and energetic. The first SB played in Minneapolis and the only one played in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Surprisingly, this marks the first time we see an actual football as part of a design and it would be another fifteen years before we’d see one again. The ball traveling through the Roman numerals themselves give this logo some depth and motion…this is a good one.

This second set of designs I think was done so well as to set up the next set of designs. So much of life is about trying to build on the previous step, to progress beyond where you’ve been and really lean into the process and take real steps into trying new things that you may not have thought of before. I think these logos did just that because the next thirteen years would be the golden years of Super Bowl logo design.

Missing from this installment was the design for Super Bowl 21. That logo designer just kind of popped their head out of the ground and shouted to the world, “LOOK HOW AWESOME I’M GOING TO BE IN A FEW YEARS” and quietly went back to the business of the day. Because the design for SB21 was glorious. Make sure to go to part 3 to read the next installment in this series when I will look back at all previous New Orleans Super Bowl logos and Super Bowls 21 and 27 through 39.

12410579_10205670940677771_1882142758445994632_nAndy has interests varying from painting and singing, to photography and prop making.  Pretty much anything that has a creative element.  Amateur status in all endeavors, he finds art everywhere he looks.  Always seeking his next inspiration.

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