Nothing is more iconic or American than Super Bowl Sunday. With its football, over-indulging of food, blatant and hilarious advertising geared simply to making as much money as possible, and halftime shows that rival any other music event throughout the year. Businesses pour millions of dollars of their budgets into Super Bowl consideration and the teams and the NFL make even more from the event.
Around the nation, no matter who you are, it is not a question of if you're going to watch the Super Bowl, it's how you're going to watch the Super Bowl. Hell, the day of the Super Bowl should probably be declared a National Holiday already.
So what is it like to take on the mammoth task of branding such an iconic event? With an air just shy of the Olympics, the Super Bowl brand gets arguably more exposure than any other out there. So the brand that represents it should be just as important, as well thought out, right? The brand's design should represent the very pinnacle of the design world and should, every year, set a standard that the world can follow, right? The Super Bowl's brand should pave the way for the most cutting edge of design advancements and transcend what people knowingly expect from an identity, right?
I mean, hell, the identity should at least be cool, right?
I've gone through all 49 Super Bowl logos to date and ranked them from worst to first to look at which ones have really scored a touchdown and which ones, well, have fumbled the snap.
Let's do this!
Super Bowl XLL
Ummmmmm, it's spelled correctly?
Alright, first off the typography doesn't exactly scream sports at all and the 3D ribbony "XII" looks like a cheesy Word Art effect. I know it was 1978 and early in the Super Bowl lifetime, but c'mon man! The color palette (I guess) is supposed to be derivative of the location (New Orleans) but purple, yellow and green don't exactly scream "American sporting event." The random outline around "Super Bowl" isn't helping anyone either.
Thankfully, it only gets better from here.
Super Bowl VII
The geometric letterforms are nice if you stripped them down to their purest form, but unfortunately there's a lot else going on here.
Normally, I would praise simplicity but I just can't let this one off the hook. The red and blue combination is downright painful to look at (like actually physically painful) and the repeated linework in the letterforms only compounds that. Kinda feels like a bad strobelight effect; like a 70s disco gone wrong.
I'm also a huge proponent of a Super Bowl logo reflecting its location and this logo doesn't even scratch the surface.
Super Bowl XXI
Stands out amongst the crowd which has got to mean it's doing something right...right?
At first glance, Super Bowl XXI looks kind of cool. It's dynamic. It's shape is different. But then you start looking closer. The rose is abstract to a fault and looks like a mistake. The "Super Bowl" typography looks better suited for a moon lander in a sci-fi movie. The location type is way way too small and I'm not sure a serif font is ever a good idea when talking about the Super Bowl. Most of all, you've got three distinct elements balanced (or imbalanced) in three different ways, all laid over the top of each other. Damn.
Super Bowl XVIII
Love how clear the supporting information at the bottom of the logo is and I'm always a fan of a red, white, and blue color palette.
The primary typography is downright illegible and and the ribbon graphic is killer (in a weird, unfortunate way). This has a sort of Roman feel to it, which could be a good route if it was a bit more refined and impactful. I wish there was more strength, too!
Super Bowl VI
I like how stylized the typography is.
I hate how stylized the typography is.
And it's got more of a western feel to it than Louisianan which I think they were going for.
Super Bowl XIV
I like the relative balance of the composition and you can't beat the red and blue color palette.
Two words: script type. And the counter of the "B" creates a huge empty space directly in the center of the logo that your eye goes straight to. Looks like a sign on the side of a Sonic or something. I understand the California connection but it's definitely a missed opportunity.
Super Bowl XIX
It accentuates the roman numeral well and I like the unique typography of "Super Bowl".
Hoooooooly movie marquee. Would anyone like to go view a matinee? I'm not sure if this logo is for the biggest sporting event of the year or a daytime off Broadway showing of To Kill a Mockingbird.
The color palette reeks of an insurance company's sea of cubicles in a 1980s office park and the typography at the bottom is downright illegible. It's a shame because the "XIX" Roman numeral is naturally beautiful and this logo completely botches it.
Super Bowl XXV
The logoform is strong and the medallion/shield fits well with the overall feel of the Super Bowl.
The gray against the red and blue is odd and the linework is too thick to be a good thing. The logo looks like it's balanced on one point with the typography below like a top and I can't help but wonder why it's necessary to completely list out the day and year as opposed to some shortened version. The "XXV" could absolutely be bolder without distracting from anything.
Super Bowl XVII
This has a more effective Californian style than Super Bowl XIV and it's nice how "Super Bowl" is front and center with the larger Roman numerals behind. The strength of the "V"s point directly in the center of the composition is dynamic and the forced perspective of the letterforms is interesting.
The "Super Bowl" typography is far too sinuous and it's a little awkward that the supporting text is perched on top of everything. Kind of looks like a sign for an auto body shop or something but it has an inherent American quality which I like.
Super Bowl IV
The simplicity is refreshing in a Super Bowl logo and I never get tired of a slab serif when it comes to sports branding.
Not exactly sure where the color palette is coming from, I'm guessing it's an homage to championships, but I think the gold is kind of a nice change. It's missing the location information to support it and the letterforms are a little awkward. If the letters were a little bolder, the shadowing a little shallower and there was some semblance of football iconography, this one would be on its way.
Super Bowl XXVI
The logo has a good overall form and visual hierarchy and the good ol' red, white, and blue color scheme always wins points.
The football is being treated like a rocket ship which is...I just don't know...and the way it shoots through the letterforms and obscures them is just as bad as treating it like a rocket ship. The scalloped edges at the top and bottom of the logo are reminiscent of a doily and are definitely unexpected. Not to mention, the thin outline on the "XXVI" is so thin it almost feels like a mistake.
Super Bowl IX
Love the simplicity and form of this 1975 logo. The "S" has a charming character that's refreshing in a Super Bowl Logo and the "X", although unusual, definitely catches your attention.
The brown and light blue color scheme is odd and the logo is missing any location or date information (why can't Super Bowl logos do this better?!?). I also know that the form of the "X"is probably purposeful although I can't figure out what it's significant of for the life of me. If someone else knows, please help me!
Super Bowl XV
Love how prominent and bold the Roman numerals are here and I appreciate the gold color scheme to define a championship. The typography of "Super Bowl" is unique with its dropped midpoints and the "U" is one of my favorite in this entire lot.
The lack of football iconography or imagery associated with the actual location of the game is a missed opportunity (although the simplicity is nice). The text at the bottom could be more well-integrated into the overall logo and the logo needs some a good healthy does of dynamism to make it work better with the excitement of the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl VIII
The core typography is extremely interesting and the "ER" ligature is a nice detail (when you're not distracted by the dirt brown outline surrounding the entire thing). The Roman numerals have a pretty great form as well in and of themselves.
Kind of looks like a 20 year-old video game logo. The outline is heavy and awkward and the drop cap on the "S" doesn't make a whole lot of sense. And the color scheme?! Brown and black?! You know what would've been a better choice?...red, white, and blue.
Super Bowl XI
Much like its Super Bowl VIII comrade, the core typography is awesome especially the spiked serifs on the letterforms. Also, RED, WHITE, and BLUE!
Almost everything that was bad about the Super Bowl VIII logo is bad about this one except for the color scheme. I'm really wondering why there were 2 whole years between such identical logos and why Super Bowl VIII and Super Bowl XI weren't designed completely identically.
Super Bowl XIII
This is one of the more interesting logos visually of the lot and it definitely stands out in the crowd. The dots are reminiscent of fans, or players, or lights, and are a nice abstraction of sport. The typography at the top is structured and bold and works well for the Super Bowl.
The use of the dots unfortunately takes away from the overall structure of the logo and the logo feels top-weighted as a result. The location typography is nice to have functionally but centered and set beneath everything leaves something to be desired.
#29 - #33
Super Bowls XLV - XLIX
Alright, now I love the work of Landor (designed this entire set of newest logos) as much as the next guy and I applaud their desire to create a formalized identity system. I support the consistency of the last 5 years and I love how the primary changing element is the stadium in which the game was played.
The beauty and allure of a great Super Bowl logo is the overall character of its design. The new format that has been adopted loses the year to year uniqueness. I support that the silver or platinum color as being representative of a championship but it's a little too monotone. I think if these were established as the single representative logo of the Super Bowl and then each city/year had its own unique design (like the Olympics), it would be a lot more successful.
Sidenote: If you look closely at NYNJ 2014, you'll see that just having the image of the stadium in the background apparently didn't quite suffice so they just added in some NYC buildings just to make sure there was no confusion.