-by Andy Dudas 2/2/2021
This is the fourth installment(part 1 part 2 part 3 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. I am not looking forward to this. This is going to be rough.
This brings us to the next phase of Super Bowl logos: BIG GIANT ROMAN NUMERALS…and that’s about it.
There was such an obvious shift in their designs of these next few years. Super Bowl logos 40 -44 are not in and of themselves bad designs but going from thirteen consecutive years of just the best logo designs ever and to then go to what these next five were was sadly a sign of things to come for the eleven years following this group. I’m not saying these designs are terrible, but they are not what they had been.
Super Bowl 40…XL…extra large: there is nothing wrong with this logo. It could have been fun to see what a connection to Detroit could’ve been, but I like it.
SB 41 quite creatively, incorporates an endzone pylon and we see just the second use of a football in any SB logo, this time right from the NFL shield logo itself. With a gleaming sparkle shining us right in the face, again, not a bad design…it just isn’t what they had been. I mean, where was this game played? On a football field…the league has 32 of those and judging by this design, I don’t know which one it was.
Super Bowl 42 is the outlier in this group as they make a very subtle nod to the location of the game giving us a curved version of the state of Arizona acting as a base for the logo that I never saw until just a few days ago. It’s there but man, is it subtle. It just looks like some sort of stylized wedge. The use of turquoise is another nod to the southwestern location of the game. It’s got some motion to it. It feels like it’s flying into the future. This is good but over all feels out of place compared to the logos of the two years before and after.
SB’s 43 and 44 introduce the football field itself, a goalpost(in a super clever way) and again the NFL shield football.
I’ve put a lot of work into this blog and have been looking at these logos for hours, days, and weeks on end and I just now picked up on the red and blue stars that carry over through these last five designs, signifying the colors of the two conference logos. While it’s a wonderfully subtle touch and is minutely specific(which I love) and I am kind of geeking out over still finding new things in and about these logos, but I have to say from a design standpoint, from an artistic standpoint: don’t try and be so clever that a majority of people will never even see what you’ve done. Create what you want, sure, but don’t be too cool for school.
Call it whitewashing. Call it brand consistency. Call it streamlining. Call it…idk. Here is the beginning of the end of me giving a damn about Super Bowl logos.What is this? If you wanted to construct these in the real world and make a new city specific base as which to attach the Lombardi trophy to, fine. But as a logo? No. Giving us this design just once could’ve been fine but five in a row was too much of this…this “welcome to the future and it’s boring AF” kind of thing.
And then came Super Bowl 50. The Roman numeral for 50 is the letter L. Just an L. I have to wonder if the marketing department at the NFL saw this looming for like forty-seven years and were just like, “You know in 5o years we are really going to have our work cut out for us” and then never said anything until about a week prior to the deadline and told the new guy to go and design something. To which I can only assume he responded, “One character? Just one? An L? How am I supposed to make that look sexy and appealing???” I have some ideas with what they could’ve done with a Roman numeral L(more on that in part 5) but if anything this design would wrap up this Diet Coke phase of logos. But the more I look at it it does appear as a hybrid of the previous designs and the ones they were about to change to. They kept the stadium but moved the number above the SB label.
While that phase of designs would thankfully come to an end, the next phase(our current one) seems to be grinding us closer and closer to a grinding halt of Super Bowl logo design. Nothing about the designs for SB’s 51-55 say anything to me except, “placeholder.” These are the “I don’t have time to flesh this out even in the tiniest way right now and I’ll get back to it later” and then they never did. They went ahead and made this a whole direction with which to take Super Bowl logo design. The only one that even hints at anything is the use of the color aqua for framing the title for SB 54 as the game was played in Miami and could be seen as a nod to the Dolphins color scheme.
The rest of them don’t appear to have any connection to anything…except to each other. At least the previous phase of designs had the stadiums as part of their logos and you could make that connection that way but even then I can’t give them much of the benefit of the doubt as stadium design has so little to do with football. Basketball, tennis, hockey and football all have the same field dimensions from one site to the next. The field of play is completely identical at every venue. Baseball and golf would be two examples where the shape and design of the playing field(foul territory and the outfield) is different every time you step onto the next playing field. When you’re watching a football game on TV, everything is the same, except for the branding on the field. So the only way we really have any reference for the stadiums depicted on those logos makes any sense is if you have any idea of what the exterior of the places look like.
To be fair, the exterior of the stadiums in Dallas, Indianapolis, New Orleans, New York, and Phoenix are all masterfully designed works of architectural artistry but what NFL venue isn’t? And short of having seen any NFL venue in person, how much of an impact can the design of the exterior of a stadium really have on us? I’ve seen US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in photos and on video and it looks amazing but I can guarantee you seeing it in person would be the only way I can truly connect with it.
What is my “old-man-screaming-at-the-world-from-his-front-porch-to-stop-the-world-from-introducing-anything-new-and-different” point in all of this? The last fifteen years of Super Bowl logos have given us very little to get excited about. And the last ten of those years are nothing short of phoning it in. I hate to be that guy but that’s what we have.
I recall when Sony released the new logo for the Playstation 5 and the ridiculous online backlash about that.
Apparently that wasn’t good enough. Some people wanted this.
Let people design things the way they want!!!! This is their property and their business but it’s time for the National Football League to stop subjecting us to these unbelievably bland Super Bowl logos.
With all of that out of the way, let me say this: the NFL can do whatever they want. I’m sure they have dozens if not hundreds of well educated, creative geniuses handling all of their marketing and branding. I say that with all seriousness and not one ounce of sarcasm. My lifelong and continuing love of sports logos is only buoyed by materials from all the sports leagues in this country, probably the majority of which is due to the wonderful work of the National Football League and it’s thirty-two team organizations.
The NFL doesn’t need nor did they ask for my opinion on these things, much less anything else. The spirit of this blog series is nothing more than to show where I think they could have gone with some of the past SB logos and perhaps where they could go in the future.
All that being said…go to part 5 for my take on correcting what I think the NFL has gotten wrong over the last decade or so.
Andy 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.