• Transform magazine
  • May 22, 2018


Brand refresh refines NBA logo with modernised look

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Last year, the NBA (National Basketball Association) generated $5.9bn in combined revenue, doubling profit statistics since the beginning of the century. Yet since the 1990s, the league has become a central network for several brands, with multinational partnerships and endorsements – typified in last year’s $24bn media deal with ESPN and TNT – illustrating the NBA’s growing capacity for a consolidated global brand outreach. The NBA logo however, designed in 1969, has remained unchanged throughout its brand journey. Taking the decision to sharpen its established identity, the NBA this month unveiled a modernised look, refining its longstanding ‘Logoman’ icon.

The logo’s history tells an interesting tale. In 1968, after drawing upon several photographs of baseball players, American graphic designer, Jerry Dior, sought the oversight of renowned brand consultant, Alan Siegel. Dior’s final product came to be realised as Major League Baseball’s (MLB) principle logo, a red, white and blue silhouetted figure swinging ambiguously (it is impossible to tell whether the batter is left or right-handed) at an approaching ball. One year later, using the same methods, Siegel discovered a picture in Sport magazine of NBA All-Star and Olympic gold-medallist, Jerry West, inspiring a logo Siegel describes as a “ubiquitous, classic symbol.”

The new logo retains West’s leaning outline, decorated in MLB-style colouring, only it now features an updated typeface. NY-based design agency, OCD (Original Champions of Design), incorporated taller lettering, rich colour hues and enhanced visibility in collaboration with typeface specialists Commercial and Erik van Blokland. Yet 48 years after its launch, the NBA logo generates over $3bn a year in licencing, making it a largely overlooked profit entity. Widely recognised as one of the most iconic sports logos in the world, the update frames the logo in a modern light, implementing it across not only physical merchandising and league décor, but throughout the growing range of NBA’s digital assets.

Pam El, chief marketing officer at the NBA, says, “This modernised look strikes the right balance between honouring our iconic logo and allowing us to be consistent further adapt to changing digital and media landscapes.”

The full rollout will take effect in 2018, with staggered implementation underway across the NBA’s wider brand collateral.