Categories
Design Sports

Contrast, color theory, and the Milwaukee Bucks

Much has been said when it comes to color theory: certain colors emote specific feelings; never use purple; green means go.

Coming from a communications school (shouts out to Newhouse!), we didn’t focus much on color theory – we focused on communication and legibility. To this day, communication grounds me in my best practices color: it’s about contrast and nothing else. Showing depth? Lean on contrast. Pairing complementary colors? Lean on contrast. Increasing the legibility of type? Lean on contrast.

Which brings me to another love of mine: NBA uniforms (my Evernote app just auto-corrected “uniforms” to “undies” — that’s an entirely different blog post which is likely behind a paywall). My beloved Boston Celtics recently eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs with the Bucks in their second full year of a new uniform system. Simply put, they look like nothing else in the league… and that’s a good thing. It’s a unique color scheme with modern type and lots of flexibility. I see only one issue — and that’s contrast.

The Bucks' road uniforms are green.
Matthew Dellavedova wears the new Milwaukee Bucks icon uniform set.

Let’s take a look at their green “icon” uniform set, my favorite of the bunch. That custom font is fantastic! Note the way that “Milwaukee” sits on the jersey. It’s white type with a cream outline (Milwaukee is known as the Cream City, a reason for one of the team’s tertiary colors and an entire separate alternate uniform).

In this case, I prefer my uniform without cream. The cream is too similar to the white in the word mark, creating a blurry effect on what should be bold, sharp letter forms. Even worse, it crowds the letters, creating a jumbled word mark.

Here, I believe some contrast would help. Perhaps “Milwaukee” would be better served in cream without an outline. This creates sharper letters, a smoother word, and significantly better legibility. Alternatively, “Milwaukee” could be set in white, but that’s a lost opportunity to use a unique supporting brand color.

The Bucks’ uni set is one of the strongest in the league and is unique across the sporting world. I’m thoroughly impressed with the design work from Doubleday & Cartwright… and with more contrast, these unis could be all-timers.

Categories
Sports

Royalty

The world lost Arnold Palmer this week… but the world won Arnold Palmer for 87 years and counting.

Golf is in my blood; golf is family. And as of yesterday, we no longer get to hear the most important member of golf’s family.

I never met my grandfathers (or Arnold, not surprisingly) so when an older gentleman like Arnold spoke on TV, I listened. I listened to his stories, his commentary, and his passion for helping children. I loved his grace, smile, and sense of humor.

He was my grandma’s favorite golfer, their birthdays separated by only a month in 1929. I loved talking about the sport with her, another member of my golf family. She passed two years ago and I thought of her when hearing the news of Arnie.

Arnold’s presence will certainly be felt at this week’s Ryder Cup, my favorite sporting event. It’s a biannual ode to golf competition and sportsmanship, two things that defined Arnold. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch Team USA celebrate with Arnold Palmers instead of champagne?

Death invokes sadness but also makes for a collection of wonderful stories. Arnold reminded us about the love and competition of a great game, and the grace he displayed both on and off the course.

RIP, The King.

Photo by Ed McDonald via Creative Commons

Categories
Business Sports

Brand Evolution: from Tiger to Rory

It was only a matter of time.

Nike hitched their wagons to Tiger Woods at an early age and turned the Nike Golf brand from a novelty to major competitor. The traditional golf manufacturers – Titleist, Ping, Taylor Made, Callaway, et. al – struggled to slow down Nike Golf’s meteoric rise since the late 90s. In fact, Nike equipment was considered a joke, even after Woods began using the clubs. But the brand’s explosion is all thanks to Tiger Woods.

And then Thanksgiving of 2009 happened.

Since the story broke of Woods’s extra-marital affairs, both the Tiger Woods brand and Nike Golf brand have taken a hit. Sure, Tiger won a few tournaments last year and his game looked solid. But Woods hasn’t won a major since 2008 and his popularity has decreased since 2009. What was Nike to do?

Nike did the smart thing, sticking by one of their most successful, famous, and marketable athletes. But they knew the Tiger magic couldn’t last forever. Could Tiger go on to win several majors over the next decade? Absolutely. But with a brand literally built by one star, Nike Golf needed the next step in its brand evolution.

Enter Rory McIlroy. Young. Multiple major victories. Incredibly likable. Sounds a lot like Tiger Woods.

And with Nike’s latest commercial featuring both golfers, the message is clear: Tiger is still a big part of Nike Golf, but Rory is THE part of Nike Golf in the not-so-distant future. The commercial literally shows them as equals, matching shot for shot, until the end… where Tiger says, “you’ll learn.”

Here, “you’ll learn” means much more than hitting a golf ball into a small plastic cup. It means that the brand rollout for McIlroy will learn a lot from the brand rollout of Woods. Within the next couple of years, Nike Golf will develop a McIlroy logo, apparel, and McIlroy-only commercials. As Tiger’s career winds down, McIlroy’s will be doing the opposite. And the Nike Golf brand continues.

Nike’s stance on McIlroy sets them up for the next couple of decades in continuing the Nike Golf brand story. All McIlroy has to do is keep winning… and stay away from the ladies.

Categories
Design Media Podcast Sports

A new venture

The Design Game: a podcast about the role of design in sports.

In November, I reached out to good friend David Merriell about starting a podcast. I had been feeling creatively unsatisfied for some time and wanted to explore a new outlet. We knew we wanted to discuss something of which we both enjoyed and were knowledgable. Through a suggestion from David, we settled on the idea of discussing the role of design in sports. After a couple of name changes, The Design Game was born.

Being first-time podcasters, we learned a lot in the months leading up to our first episodes – equipment, editing, technology, RSS feeds, and the iTunes store. We thank Cliff Ravenscraft of Podcast Answer Man for his incredibly useful tutorials. Without his clear, concise YouTube clips, we’d still be fumbling around the internet trying to figure out the podcasting workflow.


Our first four episodes explore both the smallest design challenges like 1-game uniform designs to larger challenges like the design of NBA All-Star Weekend events. In the coming months, we’ll explore golf fashion and culture surrounding The Masters, European football and jerseys with ads, and throwback culture.

We hope you will listen and we look forward to sharing our thoughts on all things design-related in the sports world.

You can listen to every episode on iTunes or at thedesigngame.com

Categories
Business Culture Media Sports Strategy

Focus and self-questioning: What we can learn from the replacement refs

From the HB Blog.

By now, everything is back to normal for the NFL fan. The full-time refs returned for their first full weekend of the season. No longer will nationwide media outlets waste valuable time with nonsensical referee talk.

Despite some egregious errors by the so-called replacement refs (most notably the game-ending play in Seattle), we can learn a lot from their three weeks of sub-par refereeing – and none of it has to do with financial negotiations or football strategy.

It’s all about looking in the mirror.

The blame game

Following last weekend’s overly criticized calls in the Patriots vs. Ravens andPackers vs. Seahawks games, dozens of players took to the media and Twitter to complain about the outcome of the game. Most notably, Packers offensive lineman TJ Lang tweeted the following (forgive the language):

The New York Daily News compiled many other Packers players who echoed similar sentiment.

Guess what? The referees had no impact on the outcome of the game – only the players on the field.

Taking Responsibility

In times of chaos, a first reaction may be to blame outside factors. The real determining factor is the only thing you can control – yourself. Kudos toPackers coach Mike McCarthy who took the high road after the game and stressed all things the Packers could have done earlier in the game to avoid such an outcome.

“The offense didn’t do our part in the first half. I should have adjusted plans earlier… We were wearing that defense down… We need to move on. It’s important for us to get back and get ready for the Saints.”

Before investing time in determining why external factors may have changed an outcome,  first ask, “what could I have done differently?” You don’t have to be in sports to do this.

Self-questioning in practice

Professional situations often don’t run smoothly. Perhaps a contact is unreachable, or a partner misses a deadline, or a marketing effort falls short of a financial goal.

Guess what? Many of those reasons start with you.

In hindsight, you can always do things differently. I’d argue that you could always do things better. At HB, we make a practice of discussing projects after they’ve launched, mailed, or delivered. Even if it’s informal, a candid talk about past work goes a long way to making future endeavors more successful. Such a talk also makes for happier clients. Some typical questions from our discussions:

  • Did we listen to our client?
  • Did we reference the creative brief and project goals at every step?
  • Did we stop to consider alternate solutions to a problem?
  • How could we have completed our project more efficiently?
  • Did the project succeed? Could it have succeeded at a higher rate?

It helps to ask these questions of your client as well, but the first questions are from us, to us.

Self-improvement

The referee problems may have disappeared… but players will always make mistakes on the field and in the marketing arena. Questioning our actions will consistently provide improvements to our own strategies and tactics.

In fact, it’s time for me to question this blog post – how could I have written better?