Super Bowl Logos – Episode I: The Standard Premise

-by Andy Dudas 2/2/2021

This is the first installment(part 2 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.

The first twelve Super Bowl logos were, by future standards, pretty standard. Of course this event wasn’t even called the Super Bowl until its second year of existence. Super Bowls 1 – 12 focused almost exclusively on fonts.

Played in Los Angeles, the First World Championship Game AFL vs NFL isn’t really much of a logo so much as it is just text. Not yet knowing what this game would grow into there understandably wasn’t much effort put into making anything much more than what we have here: text. We do see an establishment of the use of red and blue for what would become the basis for the logos of the American and National football conferences.

Now officially called the Super Bowl, SB 2 in Miami uses the same font from the previous year and begins in earnest the NFL’s use of reds and blues as nearly exclusive colors in their logos. Again, just text but with a tad more texture thrown in with a border of color wrapping each letter. This logo would establish the use of Roman Numerals, perhaps the most distinctive trait of all but one SB logo in the fifty five year history of the game. By that measure, this could be the most important design as virtually all logos to follow would use Roman Numerals in the makeup of their design.

Super Bowl 3, again in Miami sticks to red and blue but with a bolder shade of red. With a different and taller font this year we don’t yet have anything to indicate much in the way of variety with these logos. Stars are introduced for the first time in what can be assumed is a deeper stretch into patriotic touches to join with the uses of reds and blues. Stars are such an accessible, recognizable, and effective design element, it’s somewhat surprising we won’t see another star in a SB logo until Super Bowl 40, some thirty seven years later.

Super Bowl 4 played for the first time in New Orleans, shows us a logo for the first time to not use red or blue, going with a white font trimmed in golden brown. With a three dimensional look this font and the color choices show for the first time a willingness to expand from the established standards. While this could be seen as the most ambitious design yet because of it’s departure from the norm overall, it’s not overly exciting. It would however be the cornerstone of a major trend in logos to come many years later. On the surface it doesn’t seem to do much but in reality this is logo shows us a very important design element. More on that in part 3 of this series.

SB 5 back again in Miami, is a nice logo that I like for it’s simplicity and airiness. Using a font identical to that of the 1968 Olympics logo, I am left to ask one question: what’s up with the E? Every other letter in these logos are nice and somehow seem soft to me, but the E looks like someone cut something out of a shape that didn’t start off being an E. Other than the E, I like this. The E seems like it doesn’t share enough of the same traits as the rest of the characters in this logo.

New Orleans hosting for the second time, the Super Bowl 6 logo really shook up the neighborhood. The use of an ornate font with lots of texture, this design stands apart from anything we’ve seen yet. Use of brown and tan doesn’t usually excite most of us too often but it works really well with this font. Understated colors with the use of such a fancy style of lettering takes the next step from the foundation the SB 4 logo laid.

Going back to Los Angeles for Super Bowl 7 would return us right away to red and blue. The interior blue is too dark. I would prefer more contrast. With such a dark shade of red I think the this element should’ve been a lighter color. Here’s an image with the blues reversed and other versions with white.

Super Bowl 8 would take the big game to Texas for the first time. Houston’s first SB logo design would introduce us to a higher level of prominence placed on the Roman numerals. A nice font with strong color choices stands out with a band of white separating them.

New Orleans hosting for a third time, Super Bowl 9’s design would take the “let’s make the Roman numeral huge” to even bigger heights. The combination of brown and light blue seems odd while the font comes across as a tad more fancy than we’re used to. It’s simple but again a design from a New Orleans SB logo gives us something very different.

Super Bowl 10 in Miami and 11 for the first time held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena just straight up used the exact same font from SB 8. It’s not a bad font but using it three times in four years seems like a bit of a shortcut. They’d already used a single font for the very first two logo designs, so why not again? Looking forty years into the future would have told us using a cookie cutter design element would become quite the standard indeed.

With green, yellow, purple and fruit punch pink, the Super Bowl 12 logo is the most vibrantly colored design yet. Still using the same font(with a heavier weight) now four times in five years, the bold colors give it new life. A nice three dimensional effect on the Roman numerals and with a free flowing form to them rather than the usual blocky, straight and hard traditional style we’ve grown accustomed to gives this logo a nice and easy feel.

I think this first batch of Super Bowl logo designs are typical of anything in this world: at first you don’t know quite what you have and the more repetitions you put in, the better you become. SB 12’s logo I think is the first indication of where these designs would really go in the future. Make sure to read part 2 in this series when I will go over the next phase of Super Bowl logo designs: 13 – 26.

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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