What Makes A Good Logo?

I was perusing some old issues of The Hockey News this morning. They're from almost a decade ago when I used to have a subscription. I was looking at the logo rankings for 1999 but something stuck out. I came across an article that has just as much relevance here at Icethetics today as it did then.

Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, is a great artist and a huge hockey fan — the essence of Icethetics. For those who don't know, he designed the Edmonton Oilers' third jersey logo you see on the left.

McFarlane was interviewed for this piece I was reading and was asked what he thought would make a good logo. So he came up with five guidelines. You can read the article below.

There's something about the Huntington Blizzard's logo that gives Todd McFarlane a chill.

Turnabout is fair play because McFarlane has been giving readers of Spawn comic chills for years. The Calgary-born artist has created a multi-million dollar entertainment and production industry sparked by his skill at drawing riveting images.

So, who better to evaluate logos than McFarlane? A self-professed hockey fanatic, he jumped at the chance to offer his two cents in THN's seventh annual minor pro hockey logo ranking.

In discussing the logos, McFarlane spawned five guidelines:

  • Cartoony characters with hockey paraphernalia are silly. "A Solar Bear with RayBans? A Stingray with a stick? Why not have a Pirate with a knife instead of a stick in his mouth? So many of these logos would've been better if you get rid of the stick."

  • The primary logo should be clean and uncluttered with words. "I'm pro image. Keep the city and nickname in the secondary logo or on a shoulder patch. The words are bigger than the icon in a lot of cases."

  • Ditch the cartoon characters. Consider the audience. "Two groups of fans attend games: children and adults. Kids are outnumbered five to one and it's the adults who buy the merchandise. They're more likely to buy if it's a cool logo. Plus, it's hard to determine what's cool for kids. What's cool for a seven-year-old is definitely not cool for a 12-year-old."

  • If you have to sell out and go with an animal caricature, "pick something menacing. Not a fish or a bird or a puppy. Be intimidating. Or at least be regal rather than dumpy."

  • The logo should be big and bold. "You should be able to distinguish it even from the nosebleeds or on TV from your couch. Too much detail just adds to the clutter."

—Brian Costello

By the way, I'd link to this article if I knew it existed somewhere else in cyberspace. I literally retyped it from the old worn newsprint where I read it.

So, all you graphic artists out there, keep these tips in mind, not only when designing logos for the IceHL, but in all your future designing ventures.

Now, I'm not done with McFarlane yet. THN got him to make a best/worst list of minor pro logos for the 1999-2000 season. That would include the AHL, IHL and ECHL. I've built graphics so you can see the logos and make your own judgments.

McFARLANE'S BEST: Huntington Blizzard (ECHL), Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL), Houston Aeros (IHL), Johnstown Chiefs (ECHL), Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL), Chicago Wolves (IHL), Louisville Panthers (AHL), Florida Everblades (ECHL), Pee Dee Pride (ECHL) and Michigan K-Wings (IHL).

McFARLANE'S WORST: Greenville Grrrowl (ECHL), Toledo Storm (ECHL), Dayton Bombers (ECHL), South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL), Saint John Flames (AHL), Hershey Bears (AHL), Mississippi Sea Wolves (ECHL), Trenton Titans (ECHL), Jackson Bandits (ECHL) and Mobile Mysticks (ECHL).

I wonder what he'd say about the Stingrays today and how his best/worst lists may have changed in the last 10 years.