NBA Team Logo Changes

by September 30, 2010

Orlando Magic 14
Only the font has changed in Orlando’s new logo. A cleaner-looking script is used for ‘Orlando’ and ‘Magic’ with the stars which once replaced the ‘a’ and dotted the ‘i’ completely removed. What’s remained is the basketball with three stars beneath the team name.

For the Magic, the logo was representative of their brand’s growth. “We wanted to bring us back into the forefront in that we’re a maturing brand,” said Roman Vega, the team’s Vice President of Brand Management. “We consider ourselves one of the elite organizations in the League and felt like our logo was a little dated. We wanted to reflect the new personality we have within our organization.”

Vega explained the new font comes from a desire to form a “cleaner, stronger look that evoked leadership and strength.” Even with a change it’s still imperative for teams to hold on to their lineage in some manner. Keeping the stars and basketball below the team name was a way of the Magic holding on to some of their brand identity.

“We’re going on 21 years in the League so, while we don’t have the heritage of some of the other organizations, we do have some,” Vega said. “We wanted to keep some of that look and feel of our logo and stars are definitely an important part of our logo.”

Each sports franchise has a time when it makes sense to split its ties to any connotation with expansion. The MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays, who started playing ball in 1998, essentially rid themselves of that perception in 2008 when they stripped the ‘Devil’ from their nickname, changed their color scheme and uniforms and finally experienced on-field success by making the World Series.

While the Magic aren’t completely eliminating their association with their roots — after all, Vega just made the point of keeping the stars that were their first identity — there’s a natural maturation which takes place. Vega likened it to that of a person. Now that the Magic are 21 years old, they’re making smarter decisions which comes from the experience and knowledge they’ve gained as an organization.

First the first time in their history, the Magic are an annual threat to win a championship. They want to show fans their new look is emblematic of the focus they have on winning their first title.

Utah Jazz note_635x289
A yearning for the franchise’s original colors upon its move to Utah from New Orleans in 1979 incited this logo update for the Jazz. Gone from the color scheme is the baby blue — and any other form of blue, for that matter. Back in the fold are the green, purple and yellow colors that John Stockton and Karl Malone rocked when they were NBA babies.

Just as notable is the return of the music note, a popular symbol of the Jazz for the franchise’s fan base. In fact, it was the Jazz fans who helped convince team management to bring back the popular note.

“We saw an increase from our fans in liking the old note,” said Jim Olson, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for the Jazz. “It was a good opportunity to go back to what our fans like.”

The mountain logo has been the team’s primary logo since 1996 and will remain in that capacity with the change. But Olson noted that the Jazz will make the music note a larger part of its presence. Anyone visiting the team’s official website is greeted by the music note at the top of the homepage; it’s also used as the team logo on the front of its jerseys. As much as the team wanted to satisfy its fans’ desire to see the music note come back into play, there was an organization-wide effort to honor the passing of the team’s late owner, Larry Miller, who succumbed to complications of type 2 diabetes in 2009.

“He always liked the music note,” Olson said. “When we got into discussions about changing the logo, we felt it would be a good move to change back to the note since we knew it was the one he always liked the best.”

The return of the team’s original colors provides a bridge to connect the this generation of Jazz teams to those of the past. It’s a franchise with a rich history and Olson pointed out that the Jazz prefer to make changes as infrequently as possible.

“We’re an organization that likes consistency,” Olson said. “We like to find something that works for us and try to stick with it.”

That organizational consistency goes beyond just Jerry Sloan, who enters his 23rd season as head coach. It doesn’t stop with the typically stellar play of the starting point guard, which has had two inhabitants — John Stockton and Deron Williams — in 21 of the last 23 seasons. It extends to the familiar colors and music note which Jazz fans can once again enjoy.

Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs begin a new era with a fresh take on the franchise’s wine and gold colors, which were first implemented in the ’03-04 campaign. The franchise calls the updated color scheme an “original expression” of the wine and gold.

What has changed are gold highlights around the sword, basketball and team name all within the primary logo. All secondary logos also feature a fresh taste of gold around each logo’s perimeter. The wine color has also been darkened, which is especially notable if you compare the basketball in the new primary logo to its predecessor.

“Over the last 10, 12 years, there’s been an appreciation that the team has gone back over the last several years to wine and gold,” said Tracey Marek, the Cavaliers’ Senior Vice President of Marketing. “We decided to see what the logo would look like based on the popularity from the jerseys we’ve worn — if we took the colors that were in the spirit of the team’s original colors and applied it to the existing logo.”

Indeed, the Cavaliers original logo, which was in use from 1970-83, has served as inspiration for various alternate uniforms worn by the club the last several seasons. Marek emphasized that the structure remains; it’s just the colors that have been refreshed.

“If you lay last year’s wine against the current wine, last year’s comes off more red,” Marek said. Whereas the new one comes off as more wine. Once you see the merchandise and uniforms, you’ll notice the difference.”

The Cavaliers have been one of the most enthusiastic teams in celebrating the NBA’s Hardwood Classics program. The program observes teams’ past uniforms and logos, and squads are able to wear many of their retro jerseys throughout parts of the season. Marek made no apologies for the Cavs’ constant turnover of jerseys worn by the team while stating that the team wants to always remain respectful of the Cavaliers brand.

“We’re not static,” Marek said. “We’re constantly looking at things a little differently. We also believe that people are ready to make a little bit of a jump. We’re willing to stick ourselves out there.”

Los Angeles Clippers
You might not notice the change in the Clippers logo, but there are a few alterations. The blue in the team’s text and the red in the basketball have deeper hues, for one. The more eye-catching change is that of the lines on the basketball.

Whereas there used to be two lines on the ball connecting into the straight lines which follow the basketball (which give the ball the effect that it’s moving), there are now two curved lines sandwiching a straight one. It really makes more sense to do a visual compare/contrast, but the ball in the logo actually looks more like a real basketball now.