Out with the Birds, In with the Words


When it comes to the logos of professional sports teams, there is a widespread proliferation of clawing, screeching, or threatening bird-like identities in various stages of emboss and swirlyness. We are pleased to announce the departure of two previously bird-emblazoned team logos. Unlike the recent success of the Stanley Cup-winning Anaheim Ducks, the World Series-worthy St. Louis Cardinals, and those other Cardinals in Arizona (who may not be quite as good), two teams are banking on birdlessness for starting a winning tradition in their cities: the Washington Capitals (NHL) and the Altanta Hawks (NBA).

With lofty aspirations of rising from the ashes of dismal losing seasons fueled by the power of re-branding and a new wardrobe, both teams logos have bid farewell to eagles and hawks respectively.

Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals have chosen to retire their screaming eagle logo/capital building jersey tandem, which capped off a twelve-year identity experiment (and a 70 point season – good for third-to-last place in the NHL.) The new logos and jerseys are actually very similar to old jerseys that had been with the team from 1974 until 1995. These “new” jerseys are a disappointing remix of old-school ideals that do very little to strike fear and/or respect into opposing teams or other fans of the frozen game. The logo is better suited for a team of Capitol Hill legislators on the ice for wobbly-kneed, breathless, noon-hour scrimmages.

The Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are the other major league team that has chosen to let their bird logo go. It hasn’t gone too far though, they have just removed it from the uniforms. In order to avoid a $500,000 charge levied by the NBA for identity changes that may impact other teams in the league, the Hawks chosen to minimize the use of the red basketball-clutching hawk rather than setting it loose altogether. In its place is a small bird head on the bottom of the shorts instead. The uniform colours have also changed from red, yellow and black to blue, red and white which seems to be the most notable change. All in all, from a design standpoint, this identity shift seems fairly low-key.

That’s our design round-up from the major sports leagues in North America. We hope that this post will inspire the Danbury Trashers and the Wichita State Shockers to seriously consider changes as well. Yikes on both accounts.

  • Amy Browne

    It would seem that both these teams are going towards a more “forget the bird and remember who we represent” type of message. Perhaps they are trying to evoke a more loyal fan base to the city by plastering the name a big larger, or tag along with the more simple, vintage look many fans seem to be taking a liking to. I agree that the Capitol’s new logo definitely lost quite a few “intimidation” points, but I guess if they’re hoping for a new & better team next season, the only thing to change right now while the ice is melted is their logo.
    I found a site with a couple more funny logos: http://www.bushparty.com/htms/hockeylogos.htm
    I think if I started a sports team, I would purposely made a hilarious name (i.e., Brandon Wheat Kings) just so I could laugh and make a ridiculous logo (i.e., a bull on skates).

  • http://www.elbowroomdesign.com neil

    You might be right! Maybe sports teams are ready to move away from the flashy, swirly, angry logos and back to a classic look similar to what the NY Yankees and the Chicago White Sox logos look like.

    Here are some more horrible sports logos!!

    My favorite horrible logo is the Denver Spurs.