Point/Counterpoint: Brooklyn Nets
At Might & Main, we're not just a bunch of design geeks. In fact, we boast an NCAA Division II Final Four combo-guard(Morgan) and Maine Recreational League 5th grade champion (Graeme) amongst our ranks. It was no surprise then, when a simple debate about the new Brooklyn Nets identity turned into a hardwood classic about trends, mass markets, and the commitment to do good work.
I love it. As an NBA fan for most of my life, I've loathed the 3D, cartoony logos the association has been pumping out for far too long. In some instances, the look of a team has actually inhibited my ability to fully support a team (Im looking at you OKC!). I was a child of the 80's and largely missed out on the heyday of the sport, but something in my bones yearns for the era this identity conjures.
Now, this trend might be played out, overdone, and tired at this point, but who really cares? The NBA is an old, out of touch organization on so many levels. I am personally ecstatic that they are embracing a new, if redundant and tired, look. It's like trying to get your grandparents to eat sushi - get 'em a California roll before you order up the tobiko.
Lastly, though 'of-the-moment', I'd argue the NBA has more to do with this trend than you'd think. This look is literally the NBA's heritage, and one need not go back far to see this style in the NBA logos and jerseys of the 50's, 60's and 70's.Mitchell & Ness has been making throwback jerseys since 1999, so if you're gonna point to someone riding coattails, don't look to the Brooklyn Nets. Point that finger at everyone else.
I love it, and I hate it. There's a reason that 'hipster branding' exists: It looks good! We like it! We respond to it! There's obviously something in our generation that feels a visceral tug when we see those narrow sans serif typefaces, shield motifs, delicate crosses and anchors. We can argue that it speaks to authenticity and history, but that's a thin argument when it's so clearly the flavor of the moment. Is it even speaking to history anymore? Or is it speaking to the hot new identity that came out last month and has been making the design blog rounds?
What's interesting here is the entrance of this aesthetic into something as mainstream as a national sports team. I'm thinking that we can read that as the beginning of the end of this trend. When Applebee's and Wal Mart start doing it, it will certainly lose the sweetheart status it's had for so many Brooklyphile start-ups and rebrands.
It's worth mentioning that Jay-Z was at least somewhat involved in the creation of this identity. The fact that this aesthetic has reached the radar of a hip hop mogul, so much so that he wanted to emulate it for the team he partially owns, might officially signal the transition of this style from trend to meme.
Lastly, as Armin Vit pointed out on UnderConsideration, the technical execution of the mark leaves something to be desired. But would I wear a hat? Or a shirt? Probably. Because regardless of trendiness, it's leagues above almost every other basketball team logo I've seen. If it kickstarts a move away from the 3D SpaceJam era of NBA logos, bring on the hipster branding.
As one who is pretty detached from the basketball world, I wasn't clouded by history or attachment here. Talk to me about the Bruins identity and we'll get into some chatter, but I wasn't really that aware of the Nets existence until this morning. As any good opinion writer does, I did some research and looked at the history of how the Nets have looked. I have to say that I am, compared to their previous identities, in love with this design.
The Nets appear to be similar to Pepsi, who seems to change their logo every five minutes while Coca-Cola has been largely steadfast with it's logo execution (not unlike the Celtics) over the century-plus they've been around. The Nets last identity looks pretty trendy for the year 2000 with a pseudo-3d logo and a ring around it for motion and depth. It looks outdated by todays standards (and it might have even looked outdated then). This new identity, while being railed upon for being trendy, fits the brand the Nets have established - they're going for a trendy look and seem to update every decade or so to reflect this (at least from the 70s on).
It's an unfortunate place to be. Like Pepsi, there is little history or attachment to each decade's identity. You almost have to ask if they'd have been happier back in the 70s making the decision to stick with that logo a little bit (or a lot) longer to give it more gravitas. In the end, they're in a position of perpetually reinventing themselves.
This new logo, however, does have a timeless appearance to it (much more so than the 2000's logo) that could right the ship and give them an identity they're still quite thrilled with when 2020 rolls around.
I much prefer the current trend toward flat, minimal, retro-influenced design over the ostentatious, over-decorated 3D swooshes and gleams of the past decade. I find it fascinating to muse on what this kind of mainstream adoption of the "hipster" style, previously reserved for identifying design firms, stylish coffee shops and craft breweries, means for mass-market retailers and consumer products. Is this what the aisles at Target will look like in another 2 years?
As others have said, this logo's style is leagues above the old one, even if it's a bit trendy.
I'm all for fresh trends reaching the mainstream, even if to designers they may already look dated. That's how we get to move on to the next thing. And the concept here is pretty appealing. So in theory, I like this logo. But I have a huge problem with its execution. The more I look at it, the more I can't not see the awkwardness in the typography, the odd line weight changes in the basketball, and the uncomfortable negative shapes the various lines create. Unless Jay-Z actually drew this himself, there's no excuse for the designer not to have pored over these details, not to have printed a hundred iterations and tweaked and adjusted and perfected before rolling this out to the nation.
Perhaps the awkwardness is intentional, a nod to an era of handcrafted design, cut film and photostatted ink drawings. In that case, play it up enough that I can tell you're not just being sloppy.
Especially when your need is short term, why not embrace successful trends? But when you're the first big brand to adopt a new trend, you set the tone and send a message. The message being sent here is that the details don't matter and that it's enough for designers to regurgitate half-baked versions of the latest fashion as long as the result looks fresher than the thing it replaces. Unfortunately, this logo could be great, but better doesn't equal great.
The designer in me completely agrees with Arielle. I hate this logo. Such poor execution!
However, the basketball player in me wants to WEAR these uniforms. I've sported practically every uniform color under the sun throughout my basketball career - maroon, white, navy, bright orange, purple, teal, green, gold and my beloved Bentley blue. But for as long as I can remember, I always wanted black unis. Why? Because it's bad-ass. Black uniforms are intimidating....the dark side! It's been said that players who wear darker colored uniforms are more aggressive (hello Oakland Raiders). As a serious competitor, if I can instill fear in my opponents by simply wearing the color black even before the ball is in the air, then hey, I'm game.
With this in mind, I applaud the Brooklyn Net's bold color choice. In an industry where bright and flashy design rules, the Nets are demonstrating confidence in a new direction. It is truly a unique brand in the NBA. With all the secondary logos and merchandise, I can already picture "Black Out" at home games.