Logos are the visual stories for sports brands. The good ones connect fans to an organization's culture and history while also being fashionable, simple, and sleek. First impressions of an organization typically come from someone seeing the logo. From colors to overall design, a logo says a lot about a team.
As you can tell, designing a well-liked, accepted, and artistic logo is a lot tougher than just splashing some color and using different fonts. Todd Radom knows this best. For the last 25 years, Todd has been creating pieces for organizations to share their story in one glance. His work covers many major teams and leagues. He is an artistic expert and a self-proclaimed sports geek. For the last 25 years, he has been, "The Man Behind the Logo."
I had the privilege of asking him a few questions about his current and past work and research. Read his thoughts below.
The Man Behind The Logo
Q & A with Todd Radom
How did you first get involved with doing design for sports brands?
I've been interested in the visual culture of sports since I was a little kid, which is to say a very long time ago. My first professional experience with design for sports started in the early 1990s, with my work for Major League Baseball and the NBA.
Looking back on your career, what are some of the top designs that you have produced?
This is a really difficult question considering the fact that I have three decades of work to pool from. While I enjoy every project I am given, here are a few that were very interesting to work on.
BIG3 League Work
The opportunity to create and oversee the look of an entirely new professional sports league is a rare thing indeed.
Big3, America’s new 3-on-3 professional basketball league, came calling in the fall of 2016. Working with the league’s co-founders—legendary rapper and actor Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz, along with their talented team, every single visual detail, starting with the league’s primary identity as well as the design of the Big3’s signature half court—was attended to with precision and care. The league was officially launched at a press conference in New York City on January 11, 2017.
Big3’s inaugural lineup of eight teams needed and deserved unique and marketable complete identity systems, built with flexibility and varied usage in mind...Each team identity needed to be robust and extendable. The underpinnings of a league-wide licensing program were a constant consideration, with a series of assets that spun off of the primary logo of each team. Each asset serves to support the core team brand, an especially important thing when introducing teams with no history, no home region, and no individual fan base.
Here is what was created:
If interested in reading more about each design's story, check out Todd's full story in the blog article here.
Los Angeles Angels Logo
The Los Angeles Angels, founded in 1961, opted for a makeover in 2002, the seventh major identity change in franchise history. They promptly went on to win their first World Series that year. The Angels brand is now firmly established, an enduring aesthetic for Orange County's home team.
Interested in getting Angels gear? Check out all the options here.
2016 MLB All-Star Game
Beautiful downtown San Diego played host to the 87th MLB All-Star Game, and the identity system and visual assets richly reflect the local landscape. A representation of San Diego's familiar local neighborhood archways, backed up by the colors of a vividly blue sun-kissed sky, provides the core of the primary logo.
You recently did some work with the Major League Rugby team, Rugby United New York. How did they approach you for their project?
Like most new clients, they found me via my long trail of work, which is out there on the web. I leaped at the opportunity to work with them; we had a good series of discussions before jumping in, and I could tell that it all seemed like a good fit with the potential to come up with something special at the end of the process.
Had you ever seen a rugby match (let alone a RUNY one) before the team approached you?
Nothing at the professional level, although I was familiar with RUNY and their emergence on to the New York sports scene.
What design elements did you include with RUNY's logo to make it more connected to New York?
I'm a native New Yorker, born in Manhattan, college educated there, and have never lived more than 50 miles from Times Square. The goal here was to embrace elements that were familiar to as many New Yorkers as possible.
What unites New York? It's a vast, sprawling, sometimes messy mix of disparate neighborhoods and people that somehow works. It's not always easy and it might get loud at times, but we all push forward. Here are is one of the symbolic pieces from the city that I have included in the logo.
Statue Of Liberty Piece: The National Parks Service, describing one key feature of Lady Liberty [states], "Liberty's keystone-shaped tablet is cradled in the left arm. It is a representation of law written down for citizens of the nation to see and read. Upon it, 'July 4, 1776" recognizes the date on which the American colonies declared their independence from England...the keystone in architectural design is a critical component. The stone specifically cut into this shape supports all others within an arch. Therefore, the tablet pays homage to our republic's keystone document: the Declaration of Independence." I felt that this was a great symbol to encompass the "NY" in the logo even if it's a little bit obscure.
To see the rest of the logo's story and elements, people can read more [on my blog article]: RUNY Logo Work.
You recently came out with your second book, Fabric of the Game, exploring the names, logos, and uniforms from the NHL. Why was hockey the focus for your next book?
This was the result of a three-year collaboration with my friend Chris Creamer, who lives in the Toronto area. I've always been a fan of hockey logos and uniforms—back in college, I lived a block away from Madison Square Garden, and I went to a ton of Rangers' games back then. There were stories to be told here and it seemed like the timing was right to tell them.
Interested in Learning More or Purchasing Todd's Book? Click Here.
Is there a favorite logo that you have after doing research for the book?
I'll point to a few, because it's impossible to limit things to just one. Every design geek/sports fan loves the Hartford Whalers' logo [that] does so much with so little. The colors are sharp too.
See more details about this Hartford Whalers' Jersey here
How about the Montreal Canadiens mark, which has stood the test of time for over a century while uniting French Canada and serving as a cultural icon?
See more details on this Montreal Canadiens T-Shirt here
And I'll throw in the Buffalo Sabres logo, which literally depicts that location and the nickname of the team.
See more details about this Buffalo Sabres sweatshirt here
You've gone from baseball to hockey to rugby and designed for most major sports brands. Is there a brand that you would like to do some more designs that you haven't worked on or done a lot with?
I've covered a lot of territory over the years across a bunch of different sports, but I think that the opportunity to do more work internationally—Japanese baseball or European soccer—could be a fun and potentially rewarding challenge.
What lays in store for you in the future as you continue to design for sports brands?
We need to get past the current pandemic, which has hammered sports and entertainment in ways that none of us could have envisioned. But I can see more consulting for leagues, teams, and stakeholders, in addition to designing, writing, researching, illustrating, and creating letterforms. [I just need to] keep evolving and making stuff.
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Todd's career has stretched far and wide. With some of the most recognizable designs in sports, I can not wait to see the next pieces he comes up with. Being the man behind the logo is a hard task, but his designs have helped fans better connect with their teams' stories.
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To see more of Todd's work and their stories, visit his website at toddradom.com. Follow him on Twitter (@ToddRadom) and on Instagram (@toddradom) for further updates and be sure to check out his books, Fabrics of the Game, and, Winning Ugly, A Visual History of Baseball's Most Unique Uniforms.
Want to read more interesting sports stories? Check out our full blog, Sports & Stadium Reads. If you are interested in contributing a unique sports story, leave a comment below, or message us on our social media @stadiumgearapparel.