Introduced to the NFL in 1950 — after playing and dominating the All-America Football Conference league from 1946 to 1949 — the Cleveland Browns are the professional football team of Cleveland, Ohio, and are members of the North Division of the American Football Conference (AFC). After early success, winning four league championships in their first 15 years including that of their inaugural season, the Browns have yet to make the big game again since 1965 and have only had two winning-record seasons since 1999 — after being “deactivated” by the NFL for three years. (Long story). For the past month or so, anticipation and hype had been building up for the introduction of a new team logo and identity that was finally revealed this past Wednesday and was received with a sad trombone attitude by most fans and media.
Although no credit is given I think it can be gathered that the Nike Identity Group designed it. The logos have been designed by Michael Irwin, Senior Designer at the NFL. Uniforms will be designed by Nike.
The orange is brighter and richer and matches the passion of our fans and city.
One of the most poking-fun-at elements of the identity was the change in saturation of the orange. It’s a significant change, as any designer would know, but for most fans this was a barely-there change. While I don’t think the new orange “matches the passion of our fans and city” in such a hyperbolic way I do agree it’s much more aggressive and visible.
Our updated helmet logo is reflective of today’s modern Cleveland — the design honors the past while evolving into the future. The iconic brown and white stripes stand tall over the orange helmet — a new orange color that matches the passion of the Dawg Pound. The new brown facemask represents the strength and toughness of Cleveland.
For those of you who have little to no interest in the NFL — I include myself in that camp — the before and after logos you see are correct: The Cleveland Browns logo IS a helmet. Basically, it’s a graphic representation of the thing they wear on their heads. While every other team has a logo (that is not a helmet) and that logo is placed on their helmet, the Browns don’t put their logo on their helmet, because a helmet drawing on a helmet is lame. But, to start with, a helmet as a logo is not the most Stephen Hawking move in the history of athletic logos. It’s as if, say, the Philadelphia 76ers logo was a basketball jersey. So we have to roll with the fact that their logo is a helmet and that, to some, it’s one of the most classic and great NFL logos.
Even with that in mind, the redesign is vehemently underwhelming. The helmet remains the same. Its coloring has been tweaked; not just the orange but the dark stroke around the metal-y part of the helmet has been shifted from black to white, improving the helmet in no way. The biggest change is the wordmark, moving away from the more collegiate slab serif approach to a bold, industrial condensed sans serif. It’s alright and it has no spikes.
2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the Dawg Pound — bestowing a unique opportunity to modernize the symbolism of the Dawg Pound through an evolved logo. The Dawg Pound represents one of the most iconic fan bases in all of sports. The Dawg Pound is a unifying identity of all Cleveland Browns faithful. It’s tough and exemplifies the “Play Like A Brown” attitude. With one passionate voice — the DAWG POUND BARKS TOGETHER.
Perhaps the biggest story here is the redesigned Dawg Pound logo, moving away from a more literal representation of a dog to a more abstract drawing of one. As a standalone drawing of a dog, it’s pretty cool. I really like how they have used the minimal facial features possible, letting your brain complete the full picture. The white eyes and teeth add a great spark. The problem is that it feels very un-NFL-like. Too playful and more akin to a minor league baseball team — which is not a diss at all to minor league baseball logos, since they have a great batting average of being awesome. But for a team with such a bland main logo, this Dawg is almost out of place.
Perhaps all will be neatly resolved when the Browns introduce their new uniforms on April 14 and all the elements gel together in some cohesive way. In the meantime — and considering that this was a 2-year process — the Brown’s PR bark was louder than the bite it eventually delivered.
Thanks to Tom Hackett for the tip.