The concept of an NBA team bears all sorts of opportunities for academic exercises. The most fun, likely, is what a team would be called and how it would be branded.
This is woefully premature, but the marketing agency Current360 has offered seven ideas for logos of a prospective pro basketball team in Louisville. They range from plausible to, uh, interesting.
Louisville leaders remain in the exploratory phase in regards to the NBA. There’s studying to be done, and surely more discussion. The shoulds and coulds for the NBA in Louisville are getting worked out, city leaders say, but Current360—based in Louisville and Fort Lauderdale—is jumping ahead.
Dennis Bonifer, Current360’s creative director, agreed to answer questions about why the agency underwent this mental exercise and the importance of branding for sports teams.
It looks like you guys had fun with this project. What were you trying to do with it?
I think everyone had a great time with it. For most of us the opportunity to design a pro sports logo would be an unbelievable honor and accomplishment. It’s one of those things you kind of dream of when you’re in design school. We wanted to showcase the talent we have at Current360. We have a very talented group—probably the most talented in my 16 years here—and this was a fun project to show off a little. With all of the press the NBA to Louisville has gotten as of late, we felt like it was a very topical subject and one that could generate a bit of interest. I will have to admit, I’m still shocked how much interest we’ve gotten.
How important do you think the logo and other branding would be to making an NBA team work in Louisville?
I think it would help with the initial excitement and certainly with merchandise sales. However if an NBA team is going to work here it has to be a winner. Historically this city (which probably isn’t too different from most cities) isn’t going to support a bad team, no matter what you call it.
Often, relocated franchises bring their past identities with them—Utah Jazz, New Orleans Hornets and so forth. This project seems to indicate that you’d rather that not happen, should Louisville ever get a team. What are your thoughts on that?
Don’t forget the Lakers (originally the Minneapolis Lakers). I’d love to see the team renamed to something that means something to the city and the region. I never really understand why teams kept their names when they relocated. There is nothing Jazz-like to the state of Utah, no offense. It’s almost like they were afraid people wouldn’t know who they were once they relocated. I think that’s kind of it the past though. The trend now seems to change the name and make it unique to the city. I’m not a huge fan of New Orleans new name (the Pelicans, so many better possible choices) but at least they tapped into something that is genuine to where they are. It’s certainly more meaningful than Hornets. I’d like to see that trend continue when we land a team here.
What’s the response been to these designs?
I think anytime you put something like this out there you are going to get some negative feedback, especially when people can respond somewhat anoymously. Everyone’s a critic, right? But overall, it’s been really positive. I think it’s definitely generated a lot of interest.
Of existing NBA team logos and branding, who do you admire most?
I like the Memphis Grizzlies logo quite a bit. It looks intimidating without being too over the top. It’s also huge improvement from the original Vancouver Grizzly mark from a few years back. I’m also a huge fan of what New Orleans did with their Hornets alternate logo. I felt like they did a nice job of transforming an existing team name and mascot into something that had local meaning by altering it into the Fleur de Lis.
Least favorite is the L.A. Clippers. Until recently they’ve been the bottom feeders of the league and had a very clip-art looking logo to match. But now that they’re winning and have a bit of swagger to them it makes it feel even worse. They need to step up their game.