Set to begin play in the 2011/12 season of the NHL, the Winnipeg Jets are the result of the purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers (who joined the league as an expansion team in the 1999/2000 season) by True North Sports & Entertainment with the full intent of bringing the team to Canada, where they own the MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg. If, to some, the Winnipeg Jets name sounds familiar it’s because it used to exist first as a World Hockey Association team from 1972 to 1979 and then as an NHL franchise from 1979 to 1996. Last week, the Jets unveiled their new identity designed by Reebok, that celebrates the city’s ties to the Canadian Air Force.
“We felt it was important to authenticate the name Jets and we believe the new logo does that through its connection to our country’s remarkable Air Force heritage, including the rich history and relationship that our city and province have enjoyed with the Canadian Forces.”
— Mark Chipman, Chairman & Governor of True North Sports & Entertainment, Press Release
“The design cues for the plane were inspired by the military jets flown by the Air Force over the years. So not only were we able to establish a new identity for our brand, but we were able to maintain a traditional, time honoured look to the logo.”
— Dorian Morphy, Senior Director, Marketing & Brand Management of True North Sports & Entertainment, Press Release
The new primary logo is based on the RCAF roundel and its McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet fighter jet rendered with the obligatory pointiness and shading of sports logos. The result is slightly odd. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. It’s bold and aggressive but there is just a little too much happening with all those angled, sharp points from the maple leaf and the jet and the addition of the North-pointing compass arrow. The muted colors don’t help much in creating distinction between the elements and they turn everything into a bit of a mush.
The secondary mark with the hockey sticks and wings looks as if it came from another team, perhaps an inter-league of passenger planes. In contrast to the primary mark, this is totally G-rated. But I will grant that it will probably look great on merchandise and apparel.
Finally, there is the wordmark. A truly horrific piece of script. Not only is it unpleasant to look at but it makes no structural sense: why does the “J” connect with the “e”? I have never seen a “J” do that. And the “t” and “s” segue? Completely jarring. Loading Snell Roundhand and adding pointy ends to it would have probably been better. “We wanted to do something that authenticated the name Winnipeg Jets,” said True North chairman Mark Chipman, “rather than just a new artist’s take on it, we wanted to link it to something meaningful.” Emphasis mine. Next time get the best of both worlds, even if it requires hiring an “artist”.