While Sports Brand Jury wasn’t thrilled with the BIG3 pro basketball league logo, the eight inaugural team identities hit nothing but net.
If you’ve read the recent Sports Brand Jury review of the BIG3 basketball league logo, you know that that the Judge had some issues with it. But since the designer of that logo also created the visual identities for the eight inaugural BIG3 teams, I thought it might be fun to review those team logos as well.
And (full disclosure) since the designer happens to be Todd Radom, a sports branding specialist whose work I have long admired, it also seemed like the right thing for SBJ to do.
First, a little background. In case you’ve been in a coma or on a desert island for the past year, the BIG3 is a 3-on-3 professional basketball league created by rapper Ice Cube and his partner (entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz) that features players like Rashard Lewis, Kenyon Martin, Mike Bibby and rosters filled mostly by retired NBA players. But even more impressive is the list of BIG3 coaches which includes NBA Hall of Famers Julius Erving, George Gervin, and Rick Barry. Its inaugural season was played in the summer of 2017, and in 2018 the league travels to eight different cities before finishing with two weeks of playoffs in Dallas and Brooklyn to crown the new champions. The games are played half-court style and even include a unique 4-point shot. Overall, pretty fun stuff!
Having called upon Todd Radom to design the league logo, it was logical for Ice Cube to include him in the process for the individual team designs as well. Creating eight completely different team identities is a huge undertaking, and, according to Radom, “There were multiple challenges here, among them the fact that the teams are not linked to any specific location,” Radom wrote on his site. “The teams had to look separate,” he added in an interview for Paul Lukas of Uni Watch. “They should look like each one came from a different designer, if possible, because each team deserved its own look, its own feel.”
The new teams had unique and creative names, which must have ignited the design process. They were: 3 Headed Monsters, 3’s Company, Ball Hogs, Ghost Ballers, Killer 3s, Power, Tri-State, and Trilogy. Fun opportunities for diverse concepts, but a definite challenge for any designer.
The finished team identity systems are an amazing collection of designs that achieve individuality while creating an overall visual unity for the league. And that’s where the true genius of the designs is displayed. And while Radom achieved his desired eight degrees of separation among the teams (no easy feat), there is also an intangible and collective harmony that binds them together on an almost subliminal level. That might have been possible by using different designers for each team identity, but wasn’t very likely. The decision to use just one designer for the entire project paid dividends. And for that, I give kudos to Ice Cube. By following his instincts, he successfully framed the league’s visual positioning to match its unique sports entertainment product.
I have my favorites among the eight teams, so here are the different designs in order of my preference with a few comments about each taken from the designer’s website, and followed by brief SBJ opinions:
Designer: “The punchy green and gold color palette provides great personality, as does the determined, all-business pig that I created as the focal point of the whole deal. He has a headband, he is resolute, and there’s no way you are prying the ball away from his cloven hooves.”
SBJ: I absolutely love this one. The intensity and the teeth give it a “wild boar” fierceness that somehow still manages to maintain a degree of cute. It begs for a war cry of “sooey!”
Designer: “Killer 3s is all about bold horizontal motion and a spare, effectively deployed color palette.”
SBJ: This is my second favorite team identity (and not just because I’m a Pittsburgh sports fan at heart). I love the play on words for the team name and the lightning bolt stingers give it an edgy, aggressive tone. The colors, of course, help to create the buzz around this one.
Designer: “Trilogy is a fun take on a b-movie theme, with a dripping basketball/eyeball that is foreboding, but not too scary.”
SBJ: The typography carries the day for me on this design. Part B-movie and part superhero comic book, it pairs perfectly with the clever dripping (and bloodshot) eyeball.
Designer: Tri-State “defied easy depiction, so I came up with a theme that reflected the familiar graphics of the American interstate—red, white, and blue, with a healthy dollop of stars and stripes.”
SBJ: I admire this take on a shield concept, which can sometimes be an overused graphic device. But this has perspective and dimension that make it work.
Designer: “The Three Headed Monsters identity is a study in symmetry that’s both fun and dynamic.”
SBJ: Slightly Jurassic Park laboratory and somewhat Halloween. Not exactly sure why it works for me, but it does. Sometimes that’s enough!
Designer: “Ghost Ballers was inspired by a sketch that Ice Cube drew and then texted to me—a baller ghost, on the move. The accompanying typography echoes the ghost’s movement, a wispy and slightly mysterious flow, backed up by a spirited purple color.”
Designer: 3’s Company: “I explored several options here, including a military corps theme, but it ultimately became a factory—a basketball company with an old school vibe.”
SBJ: This one has the most intangible visual identity for me, but I think it works really well. It says “New York Knicks throw-back” to me but with a blue-collar hometown feel. Though I might have gone with three smokestacks instead of two.
Designer: “The identity for Power had to be centered around the team name, a typographic approach. I selected a vibrant blue color that would translate especially well to the uniforms, knowing that it’d look great on broadcast.”
SBJ: My least favorite team name, I think there might have been more creative options. But the logo is cool and the colors feel mostly Duke and Carolina to me, and they work really well. I wonder if “Power of 3” would have been a simple adjustment to make this name and identity more power-ful?
So what’s the Sports Brand Jury verdict on the BIG3 team identities? Well done Todd Radom Design. And just one question…how long until expansion teams?
Note: Logo images borrowed from Todd Radom Design’s article describing the BIG3 design project.
Sports Brand Jury welcomes your opinions, comments, and suggestions for future cases. If we use your ideas for a future post (if we haven’t already planned on it), we’ll send you some SBJ swag as a thank you.