• Transform magazine
  • October 25, 2021


Firing on all cylinders

  • Detroit Pistons 4.png
  • Detroit Pistons 2.png
  • Detroit Pistons 3.jpg

In 1996, one of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) most celebrated teams, the Detroit Pistons, based in Detroit, Michigan, made the decision to completely overhaul its longstanding brand identity. In the process, the Pistons left behind a logo that carried the team through what came to be known as its ‘Bad Boy’ era and, despite remaining largely unchanged since the team’s inception, defined the very nature of what basketball meant to Motor City – red, white and blue.

The new logo was the Pistons’ answer to the changing face of the sport, leaving in its trail the peach baskets and sub-six-foot players of the 1970s and ‘80s and entering an era of inflated sponsorship deals, high-tech sneakers, Michael Jordan and the birth of rivalries. The departure, illustrated by a flaming stallion and ‘Pistons’ typeface underscored with an ignited exhaust, aimed to symbolise the locus of its brand promise, horsepower. Yet after a series of unsuccessful visits to the NBA playoffs, the Pistons ceded to the pressure of its fan base, and in 2005 returned to an incarnation of its halcyon days.

Now, priming itself to compete, the Detroit Pistons franchise has made the recent decision to rebrand its primary logo, making a full return to its championship-winning identity. The new logo comprises the typeface of its current wordmark with the traditional backdrop of the 1979-1996 identity. Sharp lines contribute to the logo’s contemporary feel, with distinct lettering complimenting the logo’s typographic dominance. With nostalgia forming a central component to the rebrand, the rollout will see the new logo in full effect across kits, stadiums, and wider team merchandising through the 2017/18 NBA season.

Charlie Metzger, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for the Pistons, says, “We’ve been working on this for six months and it’s a product of work we did in-house with our creative team in conjunction with Nike and the NBA. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re excited about the logo itself and the move downtown and everything that’s happening with our organisation. It’s a new chapter.”

The franchise’s decision to relocate its stadium to the highly-populated Detroit metropolitan area from its current suburban arena further illustrates the brand growth of the NBA, which has seen revenue double from 2.6bn USD in 2001 to 5.8bn in 2016.