When I was a kid, one of the things I loved about sports logos was how certain teams managed to blend aspects of their sport and city into their design. For instance, the Milwaukee Brewers (Again with the Brewers? Yes. Again with the Brewers.) managed to work a baseball and a glove into their initials without it looking like four different designs were awkwardly stitched together to create a digital Frankenstein monster.
In hockey, the Hartford Whalers, New Jersey Devils and, of course, the iconic Detroit Red Wings logos come to mind. In logos like these, it always feels like care was taken to seamlessly blend multiple ideas into one beautiful piece of art.
That isn’t always the case, though, as you can see when you stare at the new Winnipeg Jets logo, which also sort of looks like what would happen if you were to forget to turn off one of your layers in Photoshop.
As I pointed out before, the design elements of a logo all need to work together, not compete. This isn’t a club flyer, where you just throw a bunch of pictures together to make it look as cool as possible. And that seems to be one of the problems with the new Winnipeg Jets logo.
Forget, for a minute, that the fighter jet looks like it was ripped straight from a book of clip art— Actually, don’t forget that, because it’s frustrating when you compare it to the design of the maple leaf, which, in my opinion, is pretty great. Of course, not only did they bury the only part of the logo they got right below the clip art jet, they also contorted it into a futuristic starburst that makes it look more like a plane is exploding and catching on fire than a jet hovering above a maple leaf. Why change the leaf only for the main logo, anyway? (The isolated maple leaf is from the sleeve. More on that in a minute.)
And why stack to begin with? I’m all for combining elements, but the stacking of one on top of another for no real reason, other than you want them both in your design, is silly and amateurish. The jet winds up blocking too much of the leaf and the leaf winds up detracting from the jet. (Which probably isn’t such a terrible thing, considering the seven minutes of work that went into designing that element.) Also not helping matters is the fact that both the leaf and the jet are done in two-tone, which works fine separately, but creates a bit of a distraction when put together.
I tried to fix that, so you can see what the logo would look like if the leaf were one solid color (above), but I don’t even know that that helped. Again, find a way to get the two elements to work together or come up with a different idea, but just placing one on top of the other isn’t designing, it’s lazy.
(After writing all of that, I came across an article where a commenter points out that the jet’s wings and nose actually complete the maple leaf. Huh. Well, look at that. That commenter would be correct. Unfortunately, that commenter, along with the designers who created it, are the only people on Earth who make that connection when looking at the logo. Maybe add a little red to outline the plane? I don’t know. The gray against the red makes it extremely difficult for someone’s eyes to ever view the two as a single unit. Even knowing what it should be, I still have trouble seeing it. Interesting idea, horrible execution.)
As for the circle surrounding the planeleafthingie, my first guess was that it was supposed to make the whole logo feel a little like a hockey puck. And while you might consider that the laziest attempt at incorporating some aspect of the sport into the logo, at least they tried, right? Well, don’t worry. Apparently, they didn’t. No, the circles are simply patterned after the roundels used by the Royal Canadian Air Force, which means that, once again, we have another design element haphazardly thrown on top of another design element haphazardly thrown on top of a maple leaf that isn’t even Winnipeg’s to begin with.
Screw it. I see a hockey puck. I’m still giving them credit for that one.
(I still wonder why the plane gets to break the circle at the top, but the bottom of the maple leaf doesn’t. Is it also a compass pointing north? Did the designer think a plain circle would just appear lazy? It’s hard to be certain, really.)
defense defence, the Winnipeg franchise has never been all that good at incorporating multiple elements into one design. I do admit I’m a sucker for the hockey stick “J”, though.
The Shoulder Patch
Listed as their alternate logo, this tribute to the RCAF appears on the shoulders of the jersey. (At different points during this post you may have to stop and remind yourself that this is a hockey team and not a segment of the Canadian military.) As I said earlier, I love—LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!—the design of the maple leaf here. The rest of it is pretty nondescript, though. Could be a patch on a hockey jersey, could be a pin they sell at Hard Rock Cafe. Hard to love it, but I also found myself having to actively search for reasons to hate it, which is a plus, I suppose.
From Nondescript to Inexplicable Script
I’ve yet to see where and when this script logo will be put to use, but I can only hope the answer to those questions are “nowhere” and “never”. A futuristic script typeface might have made sense if it were used anywhere else in either logo, but by itself, for no apparent reason? Um, okay then.
As far as the font choice goes, this looks like something you might find on dafont.com. It’s a little too cheesy for my taste and I wish they would’ve pulled the letters together a little more. All that unnecessary space between each letter just winds up forcing the designer into gray overkill. Tightening up the kerning and maybe making the white stroke a little thicker could probably help with that.
Oh, and look! Another element just thrown into a design for no real reason. Who’d have thought? The way the maple leaf is used here makes it no more valuable to the overall design than the trademark.
Hard to hate on the jerseys. They both have a cool, crisp feel to them and I love that they chose not to use red anywhere except the maple leaf; it really forces your eye to the logo in the center of the jersey.
As with my taste in most hockey jerseys, I’m seriously digging the road whites here. My only issue is the decision to have the blue from the shoulders continue down the sleeves while still keeping the elbow stripes. It doesn’t necessarily ruin it for me, but it is a little awkward. Like the player recently broke out of restraints or something.
Apparently, this whole thing was designed by Reebok, which doesn’t surprise me at all, as you can almost imagine the logo sitting perfectly on the tongue of a basketball sneaker.
I do like that it has more of a modern feel to it; I just wish the designers would have done a better job of bringing everything together. To me, this logo is fine for a generic hockey jersey in the next Batman movie. For a professional club, though, the design, as a whole, is a little weak.
The good news, of course, is that when the Jets ultimately decide to change things up in a few years, Toronto can steal their maple leaf back, tweak a few colors, and maybe have themselves a modernized third logo to complete some kind of “Past, Present & Future” kit…
Logos, for the most part, found here.