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A Look at 3 High Profile Sports Industry Rebrands

A Look at 3 High Profile Sports Industry Rebrands

These days, it seems that everyone in the sports industry is updating their brand. Whether it is a team that has been historically bad looking to begin a new era or a franchise with a storied history looking to maintain success, identity updates are sweeping the sports world. We decided we would take a look at three of the more notable sports industry rebrands of the past year to look at what was done well and what could have been done better.

University of Tennessee Volunteers—Nike


Since the announcement of the partnership between The University of Tennessee Athletics and Nike, there has been a lot of anticipation and excitement about what the sports giant would do. Nike did not disappoint when it rolled out their new logo, brand identity, and uniforms for all of the school’s sports.

Nike’s goal after the initial brand audit was to unify all the school’s teams through a slightly redesigned “Power T” logo. This included the decision to cut the “Lady Vols” nickname from all of women’s sports except women’s basketball, which met with some criticism from fans and student athletes alike. The Nike Power T is not much different, although it is slightly slimmer and a brighter orange. Nike has also created a unique Tennessee lettering that resembles the shape of the state, which will eventually be used by all sports programs to promote unity in the athletic department.

As for the uniforms, Nike delivered what has come to be expected from the sports equipment giant. The alternative “Smoky Gray” football uniforms look great, especially the helmet, complete with images of the nearby Smoky Mountains. The home and away jerseys are simple and clean, although I would have liked to see a little more design elements, maybe along the side. All of the jerseys look pretty good. You can check out more pictures of all the uniforms here.

Overall, Nike did a pretty good job with this brand update. Personally, I would have liked to see them step out on a limb a little more with the home and away football jerseys, but the Smoky Grey looks awesome and gives the fans something to get excited about. The most impressive part of this redesign was that Nike found a way to modernize Tennessee but also stick to the traditional Volunteer style.

Major League Soccer – Athletics & Berliner Benson

mls new_old

Major League Soccer has been around since 1996, and has grown to 19 teams worth an average of $103 million. The league has begun attracting older European superstars (think David Beckham) looking for the chance to dominate in their remaining years, while also cashing in on the chance to live in America. Recently, the MLS has also benefited from American success in the World Cup, spurring domestic interest in the sport.

Drawing on this recent success, MLS decided to rebrand itself, and aims to be among the best soccer leagues in the world by 2022. Their new logo looks more like a badge or a crest, and aligns the MLS, at least visually, with top European leagues. The slash through the shield represents the energy of soccer and the rise of the MLS, while the stars stand for the three pillars of MLS: Club, Country, and Community. Each club also has a version of the crest where the red and white sections are replaced with team colors.

This new crest is distinctly North American with a European flavor to it, a goal the league had in mind during the redesign. The applications of this logo look really good, especially the promo layouts the league has mocked up. The league took a chance on this design by leaving a good amount of white space, but I think it is a great combination of the league’s uniformity combined with the individuality of the teams and players that make the MLS unique.

Los Angeles Clippers
clippers logos

As any basketball fan can tell you, the Los Angeles Clippers have had a tumultuous history as the black sheep of LA sports. The Clip Show has made the playoffs just eight times in its 31 years in LA, and has never gone deeper than the second round. However, recently the franchise has experienced unprecedented success, reaching the postseason in the last four years.

Following former owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks in 2014, Steve Ballmer bought the franchise in August 2014 for $2 billion. Ever since he purchased the Clippers, Ballmer has expressed interest in rebranding the team and establishing a new, more respected era of Clippers basketball.

Ballmer decided to roll out his new brand on Conan, along with Clippers superstar Blake Griffin. The new Clippers logo doesn’t look to be quite finished at first glance. The “LAC” monogram logo looks quite similar to the Chicago Cubs “C”, and it seems like they tried to incorporate too many different styles. The emblem can be broken down into three partial logos, most likely in an attempt to expand the line of merchandise fans can buy.

The applications of the logo are better than the logo itself, and the Clippers are certainly doing everything they can to get LA fans excited about the new look by handing out t-shirts and hats in their #GearUpLA campaign. Some of the merchandise looks pretty good, but the jerseys leave a lot to be desired. The away jersey is not as strong as the home, and the lack of hierarchy on the away jersey is…different. In the end, the logo lacks consistency, and creates a confusing system of emblems throughout the brand. Only time will tell if the fickle LA fans will accept the logo, but as of right now it isn’t looking good.

Rebranding is not a simple endeavor, especially in the sports industry. Players and fans have sentimental connections to their team’s identity, and change is not always embraced. That being said, rebranding is a necessary part of business to remain relevant or redefine company goals after they have outgrown their original mission.