During the offseason, graphic desinger Max O’Brien decided to apply his artistic skills to the world of the NFL by completely redesigning the logos of the 32 franchises that make up the National Football League. In commenting about the process on his own blog O’Brien states, “I’ve been a fan of the NFL since ‘06 (I’m not from the States) and the aesthetics have always been one of the sport’s drawcards for me. But as I’m pretty sure is the case with most people who call themselves designers, no matter what we see out there, we always think we can do a better job. NFL logos are a funny business. Some have remained the same for generations while others change regularly, but for the most part the underlying theme of the team has stayed the same for all. Not just in name but in the visuals. There are many teams in the NFL with good logos, strong visually that have stood the test of time and through the many changing visual trends over the years. There are also a lot of really crap ones. But every logo has a history and a fan base that clings to it. When I approach design, I rarely design purely for myself; the catalyst may be of my own ambitions but in the end I design for other people. I get joy out of delighting others with what I create. With that in mind, I set myself parameters for this challenge based on the target audience. Or rather audiences. 32 different teams, 32 different sets of fans, 32 themes, 32 personalities, 32 stories and 32 lines of history. 32 different cities and landmarks. 32 different names.”
We decided to pick our ten favorite reinterpretations and present them next to their current iterations. See the ten best after the jump. Head here to see all 32 designs.
The old: A solitary, orange helmet silhouette.
Why we like the new one: It adopts the personality of their rabid fan base and utilizes design cues from a more successful past.
What O’Brien said: The logo is simply a bull mastiff’s head looking out in an aggressive fashion. The dog, as most Cleveland fans will undoubtedly know, is a reference to the defense being called “the Dawgs” and of course the “Dawg Pound.” As an added bonus, I kept the old Browns logo I did in the logo type, the letter ‘O’ emphasized to look like a buckeye nut, a reference to the Ohio state tree and the name of the Brown’s first head coach (and the team’s namesake) Paul Brown’s first team the Buckeyes.
The old: A dual-colored star found on their helmets.
Why we like the new one: The star is kept in tact but given a more modern look.
What O’Brien said: The Dallas blue star is up there with the rest as one of the iconic symbols of football. How do you improve upon something so simple? You don’t, but I had this idea and I wanted to try it out, and it worked out as perfectly as I hoped it would. It’s one of the few times where the translation from my mind to execution was seamless. Don’t change something iconic if you can help it. The star remains as the focus — all I did was slap Clint Eastwood’s face in there in a way that didn’t interfere with the key shape. It’s stoic and bold, much like the Cowboys’ history itself.
Green Bay Packers
The old: As mistakable as any logo in the NFL, Green Bay’s “G” represents one of the most storied franchises in the league.
Why we like the new one: The update empowers not only the city of Green Bay, but the entire state.
What O’Brien said: Their logo, the bold green ‘G’ is unwavering and has stood the test of time. Their fans share the same qualities; proud and loyal. That’s when I realized, the logo shouldn’t be a representation of the name (beside the obvious reason of being decidedly awkward) but a testament to the legacy of the team, its history and its home.
The old: An abstraction of a bull’s head.
Why we like the new one: It favors realism and separates itself from the star motif made more famous by Dallas.
What O’Brien said: The logo is, essentially, a more realistic and irate version of the original Texans bull. I even managed to keep the star in the logo in a way that wasn’t too gaudy and unnecessary. My only concern would be that it might look too much like the Chicago Bulls to some but I think it has enough difference in the style, angle and colors to differentiate itself.
Kansas City Chiefs
The old: The cities abbreviated moniker framed with an arrowhead.
Why we like the new one: It doesn’t completely abandon tradition but does present a more clean and less offensive portrayal of Native American culture. It also ties in with KC’s Arrowhead Stadium.
What O’Brien said: What I chose to do moving forward was to follow the same lines of the current Chiefs logo, like the 49ers and Packers logo I had done before and also bring in a bit of what I explored in my initial attempt. The ‘K’ and ‘C’ glyphs take center point and I designed the typeface with the intent of being able to slot in the arrow perfectly to make the ‘C’ look like a stretched bow. I also had to be careful not to make it look like a letter ‘E’ too. Overall, I think the logo does a good job of maintaining the current one while adding some extra modern flair.
New England Patriots
The old: Having been reworked five times since the team’s inception, the current state reflects a patriotic color scheme and ditches the rest of the body.
Why we like the new one: It feels like an organic and natural progression for the team.
What O’Brien said: Right from the get-go I had a starting shape to build off. I was convinced I could get a minute man in the position of the letter ‘P’ charging into battle with the old Betsy Ross US flag. The ‘P’ is very loosely visible but it served well as an initial shape and I think I was able to strike a good balance between bringing together the return of Pat the Patriot and the current style while striking the great theme of charging into the battlefield that is the gridiron every Sunday.
New York Giants
The old: Lowercase letters as recognizable as any two combinations around the world.
Why we like the new one: It remains simple and doesn’t inject obvious themes into an already classy idea.
What O’Brien said: Initially I started with your obvious starting points like how could an image of a Giant fit into the logo? Does the old logo from way back have any new merit or life in a new form? No, not from what I could conjure up. What about the skyscrapers? The inspiration for the team name? Close, but not quite. What I was forgetting was what made the simple lower case initials so great. The fact that it’s simple. The Giants organization is one with a very well-known reputation of being no-frills and with only one focus: football.
The old: Arguably one of the most iconic, yet mysterious logos in the NFL, the three hypocycloids (diamond shapes) represent the American Iron and Steel Institute. The original colors were chosen to promote the attributes for steel: yellow lightens your work; orange brightens your leisure; and blue widens your world. The logo’s meaning was later amended to represent the three materials used to produce steel: yellow for coal; orange for iron ore; and blue for steel scrap.
Why we like the new one: The subtle homage to the three rivers that run through Pittsburgh – the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio.
What O’Brien said: Pittsburgh quite possibly has one of the crappiest logos out of the current crop of NFL teams. That’s my opinion and yes, I’m well aware of its use (it’s a steel-mark used on Pittsburgh steel) and history but that doesn’t give it a pass in today’s landscape. Does that mean I should steer away from it entirely? No, I don’t think so. Initial concepts that I came up with saw to that. Much like the Giants, any logo I made that was more literal to the namesake of the team felt off and didn’t belong.
The logo, much like the one I did for the 49ers, is very much the same as the one I did for this team a year ago, but I really didn’t like the yellow background it relied on. The three lines were made to signify rigidity of the team and the steel the city was built from while in the shape of the letter “E” and providing an outlet to pay homage to the old logo, no matter how ugly it is.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The old: A skull, dual swords and a football presented on a pirate-esque flag.
Why we like the new one: It adds much needed realism to a franchise still looking to escape a swashbuckler logo and Creamsicle-colored uniforms.
What O’Brien said: I wanted this new logo to scare the crap out of the other team in the same way the jolly roger would as it would appear bearing out of the ocean mist. I tried multiple different angles, looked a variety of different skulls and positions all trying to achieve that sense of horror. What I ended up with achieves that I think, even if the skull seems a bit sadistic—I guess it just adds to the effect. And of course the tricorne and cutlasses for extra added pirate imagery.
The old: A “T” emblem with three stars indicative of the Tennessee state flag.
Why we like the new one: It gives a sense of identity to a team still sharing similarly eery color hints to the Houston Oilers.
What O’Brien said: My first attempts at the using the sword weren’t much to look at but after giving it a second go I think I hit the jackpot. The main issue that I found was that any logo that wasn’t in profile came off unbalanced especially if the shape of the logo was tall and narrow which wouldn’t work well on a helmet. It’s funny how much difference something as small as adding a cape to something can make. I even kept the three red stars representing east, middle and west Tennessee respectively, like the state flag.