Sinking or Sailing: The LA Clippers Rebrand – Bold Move or Misguided Voyage?

Category

Branding

Read Time

3 min

Published

26 February, 2024

The LA Clippers launched their rebrand today.

And when sports teams rebrand, it’s always risky business.

You’ve got thousands and thousands of passionate fans turning into designers, getting on their soapbox, and spouting off in every direction.

So… is the rebrand sinking or sailing?

Today the Clippers not only revealed their new jerseys, logo design, and colour scheme, but also the first look at the Intuit Dome, their own building that helps distance them from the Lakers.

LA Clippers new uniforms and jerseys
Images copyright to LA Clippers

First up, the new uniforms and jerseys are outstanding. They’re a proper throwback to the late 80’s to early 2000’s style tops, and they also reintroduce the red they wore throughout the 90’s.

The jerseys are adorned with a beautifully crafted script style Clippers wordmark, which in isolation, is outstanding. They’ve stepped forward by taking a step backwards.

So far so good.

Then there’s the new logo itself.

LA Clippers new logo design breakdown
Images copyright to LA Clippers

The press release states the logo design is:

A strong and stylized mark that illustrates movement and precision while paying homage to the team’s nautical heritage.

And honestly? It’s not bad. It’s just a bit chaotic.

The custom designed typeface looks good. Maybe a little squashed, but I’d like to see it not bent around a circle.

The logo mark encompasses so many things.

There’s the hull of a ship, with lines from a basketball, there’s a nautical compass, and a surrounding C for Clippers. As you can imagine, it’s a tad messy.

A cool hidden Easter egg in the logo design is that the N from “Los Angeles” is directly above the north pointing compass. And, in the Intuit Dome, this will always point north.

Small details like this matter. They’re interesting and give something for us designers to cling onto.

All of this is surrounded by several circles, ranging from white, to blue, to dark blue, to red. It’s a lot.

But, there’s also a stripped back version of it, which I much prefer.

LA Clippers isolated logo
Images copyright to LA Clippers

The single colour “C come compass come ship” works much better than the whole shebang version.

It’s easier to look at, it’s easier to replicate, and it’s much more memorable.

The boat looks like a super yacht rather than a clipper, but then clippers aren’t as cool as super yachts these days.

There’s mention of the logo taking inspiration from PSG (Paris Saint Germain), one of France’s leading football teams. And with the shape, and the colours, it’s quite an easy comparison to make.

The new Clippers logo does look more “soccer-esque”. And if this new identity is a push into that direction and the European market, then maybe it’s just right.

One of the main problems that I can foresee is the script and the logo design conflicting with each other.

Using them both on the same deliverables or brand touchpoints for example, will be a nightmare.

As Bill Kenney from Focus Lab has put so brilliantly:

First reactions are not always the best reactions, and I don’t want my opinion to disrespect people who worked hard on this.

I’d love to end this article saying the Clippers rebrand is a slam dunk. But it’s only halfway there.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Clippers roll out and active their new brand over time.

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Hey I'm Tony, Founder and Director of Canny Creative. I eat, sleep and bleed Canny to be honest. I'm an absolute workaholic (and yes, I know that's not a good thing!).

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