The Courtroom

The case for sanity in sports branding.

It’s gone too far. And somebody has to do something about it. It’s the elephant in the locker room that no one has been willing to point out. Until now.

Welcome to the courtroom of sports branding. As far as I know, there’s nothing else out there in the sports blogosphere like this long-overdo justice system for sports branding. Finally, you’ll see due process for the teams and designers who’ve either hit home runs or fumbled their chances at sports team creativity.

So who’s going to judge these cases? Good question.

Sports branding is part of my DNA. I was the kid growing up who packed a sketch pad and crayons in my lunchbox just in case I could steal a few minutes after scarfing a quick sandwich to scrawl a new NFL helmet logo or baseball jersey logotype. I guess it’s no wonder I ended up as a graphic designer. After graduating with a design degree and working a few years at small studios, I took a leap of faith and partnered up with a high school buddy to start a design shop. It wasn’t called branding back in the 1980s, but we did the same thing – developing visual identity systems and other graphic design projects for our clients.

After a decade of hard work, hard knocks and hardly any time to breathe, I left the Arizona desert for higher ground. Literally. For the past two decades, I have been fortunate to work with some of the finest marketing professionals and sports-related clients any designer could hope for. And do it in in beautiful Colorado. From the United States Olympic Committee to numerous other Olympic sports organizations, and even the MLB Colorado Rockies, my design career has fed my sports branding appetite with portions I only dreamed of in my Crayola years.

So without formal Senate approval, I nominate myself for the position of Sports Brand Judge, Jury, and Executioner. (Insert gavel sound here…)

Big Marketing, you’re officially being served.

Then what exactly is that elephant in the locker room? I thought you’d never ask.

It’s simple. Sports branding is stampeding out of control.

That’s right, I said it. And I’m not taking it back. Big Marketing has hijacked sports branding like a big game poacher who cares only for the quick payoff while stripping the jungle of its lifeblood. It’s created a sports-branding behemoth that’s running wild and dragging a generation of impressionable sports fans into the depths with it.

Need examples? Here a just a couple to whet your whistle…

In 2017, the Arizona Diamondbacks completed just their second decade of major league baseball play. Along with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (oops, I mean Tampa Bay Rays) they are the toddlers of baseball’s big show. The D-backs (which may be the poorest choice ever for a professional team nickname) have had more team branding changes than Baskin Robbins has ice cream flavors. Their schizophrenic team identity crisis was excruciating to watch as they shed their skin and slithered from their original unique niche-branding to virtual MLB anonymity. A belly-flop into in the already overflowing swimming pool of red-uniformed franchises. Case in point, they created seven new uniforms for the 2017 season alone, Excluding jerseys worn by several teams for just one game, the rest of the league averaged between three and four uniforms that season*. You can be sure Sports Brand Jury will take on their case in a future post.

Still not convinced? Two words: Color Rush. This is where you’ll see my old school leanings show through. I like bright colors as much as the next guy. But the NFL has opened a Pandora’s box of crayons that’s dipped to new lows. This brand-fragging foray transformed many of their iconic team identities into a pathetic college team wannabe realm. Rest assured, we won’t be afraid to subpoena even the pachyderm NFL to the SBJ courtroom.

Sports Brand Jury will take on some of the big offenders. We’ll open these cases, and evaluate them from both a designer’s point of view and a fan’s perspective. And we’ll always keep it entertaining. Then, after a thorough evaluation and opinion, we’ll pronounce a verdict and a sentence for each case.

The Good as well as the Bad and the Ugly.

Even as we dissect the worst of the worst in sports branding, we’ll also give credit where it’s due. There are plenty of awesome and successful sports branding case studies that we look forward to sharing with you. And in addition to hearing from the SBJ judge, we’ll look to invite guest columnists, stage competing arguments from judges on either side of prominent cases and even create opportunities for you to cast your vote for the verdict. Not to mention the occasional contest where you can win some Sports Brand Jury swag.

One last point. SBJ is not a comprehensive sports logo and uniform site. That segment of the web is already well-handled by Chris Creamer (, Paul Lukas (, as well as several other top-notch resources that I have enjoyed for years. Keep up the great work guys.

Will Sports Brand Jury make a difference? On that point, I’ll let you be the judge. The rest of the time, the gavel is mine. So, sports branding world – you’ve been formally served. The jury is seated. Better bring you’re A-game into my courtroom.


* Uniform totals courtesy of