When we talk about logo design, we’re usually referring to the branding of products or services. But today we are going to look at something different. Since it is deep into the second half of the Major League Baseball season, let’s dive into the realm of logo design for our country’s beloved sport to investigate two well-known team logos.
First up: the St. Louis Cardinals. When it comes to shapes, letters, and colors, the Cardinals have an impactful, well-evolved logo. There are a few variations of their logo, all similar in design – a good branding strategy for versatility and memorability. They use the bold, bright primary colors which look great against both white and gray uniforms. The shade of cardinal red in their logo has a storied past. Did you know the franchise was first known (from 1883 to 1898) as the St. Louis Browns? Then, for a year (1899), they were the St. Louis Perfectos. Their new team owner had the idea to make a color change to something more vibrant than the brown they were using, and hence their signature red color was embraced.
Shortly after that, a St. Louis Republic sportswriter overheard a fan remark that the color was a “lovely shade of cardinal”. This remark appeared in the paper along with a suggestion that the team adopt the name Cardinals, which it did in 1900. How’s that for customer feedback?! The cardinal bird design was first used on the team jerseys in 1922—two birds balanced on either end of a bat, with the letter C of Cardinals looped around the bat. Simple, easy to read, and memorable; these qualities combine to make a powerful, balanced logo. Adding the iconic birds was the last step in a chain of events that began with a rebranding effort rooted in a color change.
Next, let’s take a look at the New York Yankees. We know a lot of folks hate on the Yanks, but hey, Logoworks is based out of New York. This is our hometown team! (Editor’s note: we also like the Mets!) Like the Cardinals, the Yankees use a few logo variations. But their versions vary quite a bit from each other; the NY icon, the baseball design with bat and Uncle Sam hat, and simply the words New York all spelled out in a block font.
The interlocking ‘N’ and ‘Y’ that make up the New York Yankees icon is one of the most popular and recognizable images in the world. The NY icon was designed way back in 1877 for a medal awarded to a New York City police officer, the first NYC policeman to be shot in the line of duty. It was eventually adopted by the city’s baseball team possibly because one of the club’s owners was a former NYC police chief, according to the Yankees’ website.
In the United States and around the world, you’ll encounter people donning caps bearing this team’s insignia—a mark that reaches far deeper than merely giving an identity to a professional baseball team. The Yankees brand holds meaning culturally, in music and in fashion, especially within the U.S. Using the Yankees logo as the example, we uncover an important lesson showing the incredible power and reach of design, and the vast value of a strong mark for a brand.
Looking at sports in general, and these two baseball teams specifically, we see that it’s the community surrounding and within a team—a customer’s praise and an owner’s deep-seated loyalties—that can enable a brand to discover and develop its own unique visual identity.
-A Closer Look: Two Major League Baseball Team Logos