Congratulations! You’ve found a name, enough bodies to staff a board of directors, purchased your gear and found space to skate ‘round and ‘round. Before you master your first tomahawk or host your first home game, the team logo becomes a priority. Why? Because skating under a unified logo as a team is, well, unifying. Visions of new fans wearing your shirt to bouts and to the grocery store, dance in your helmeted head.
Or maybe your team is expanding. That’s super! You’ve been through the process of getting your first logo designed and approved so the second time around may be easier.
Logos play a big role within sport. Do it right and your logo takes on a personality of its own. A sports logo, no matter the activity, becomes an emotionally attached brand; as if the cheering that surrounds it gives it magical power. When eyes gaze upon it, it can bring love, hate, excitement or fear depending on the eye of the beholder. (Habs fans, you know what I’m talking about.)
It’s also a money-maker for a team. Do it well and you’ll have non-stop opportunities for supporters to buy all the things with your logo on it. Do it not-so-well and you’ll likely sell shirts and maybe some stickers, but you won’t get many repeat buyers. People love to wear attractive logos, so it should be a goal as a new or expanding league to make yours desirable from a marketing perspective.
In my 20 years in the print, pre-press and design industry, I’ve been involved in a lot of good logo designs and some not-so-good. When dealing with a new client, I often have to educate them about how to make a good logo… the technical specs. You can have the most beautiful, colourful, detailed logo in the world, but it will be useless to you if the t-shirt maker can’t work with the logo due to its design.
Here are things to think about when you’re contemplating a new or team expansion logo. I’ll be posting in parts, because this topic is too big for just one post. I hope you find the tips helpful and, as always, I welcome comments and additional tips.
Recruit a graphic designer into your fresh meat program
(No, really. Recruit a graphic designer into your fresh meat program.)
Finding someone to create your logo can be challenging. The easier you can make it on yourself, the better. There are lots of great artists and graphic designers out there who could help you. However, you want to try and find someone who has had pre-press or pre-production experience. Why? The mediums used when you send a brochure to get professionally printed, silkscreen a t-shirt or produce a temporary tattoo, have some limitations in reproduction of your design.
A knowledgeable designer will know those limitations and design your logo around that. I’ll go through some of the more common limitations down below and in future posts. So having a designer already skating for your league may be able to oversee the process or at least help you take some of the guesswork out of it.
“I know, let’s have a logo contest”
This sentence makes me shudder. For many reasons. Not only does it devalue the industry for graphic designers (Do accountants participate in math contests?), it doesn’t allow you to have one-on-one conversations with the designer to help them understand how the team wants to be portrayed. This is going to be your brand; your image; your emotional attachment to your fans. Without those conversations, it would be difficult for anyone to get a logo perfect on the first try.
Logo creation takes time. It also takes revisions. Contests lend themselves to neither. It’s also a process that designers charge from hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you think about it, would the really good designers who are paid hundreds to thousands of dollars, join your contest to design a logo for payment of a t-shirt? Probably not the good ones, unless you recruit one into your league. See above.
Logo contests are also risky. Logos shouldn’t contain copyrighted material but sometimes it’s difficult to tell. Good artists would never rip off another’s design. Opening up a contest for anyone to enter can increase that risk because you simply don’t know who you’re dealing with. In the end, your league could be held liable and be forced to never use the logo if the copyright infringement is discovered.
For more information on the pitfalls of logo contests, read this article on logodesignlove.com. Please read it before you consider a contest.
Here’s my confession. I participate in logo contests sometimes. I know it’s hypocritical based on what I’ve written above. But I only participate if I’m inspired by an idea quickly, have time and I truly want to support the organization hosting the contest. If you’ve used a logo contest and was gifted with a logo that was everything you ever wanted it to be, that’s fantastic! But please keep in mind that it’s not always the most easy or effective way to get a logo done.
If, despite all my efforts, you’ve decided to still run a logo contest, please stay tuned to my next post which will include how to run your contest to keep you from getting burned but the tips are great if you plan on hiring a designer too. The post following I will explain some of the technical jargon in dealing with logos: resolution and why it is important; the difference between raster and vector; colour in logo design, brand standards and more. Stay tuned!