I love watching basketball. I hate watching players in ridiculous uniforms. The Complete Graphic Designer informs us that “sports team brands help identify players on the field of competition, but to be truly effective, they must be marketable as both memorabilia and merchandise. They evoke spirit and unity among the teams, fans, and community.” I created a point system to grade all 30 NBA teams on their overall branding (nickname, colors, logo, and jersey), giving us The Jersey Score. For me, less is more. Clean, simple, and retro are the way to go. For more on my grading, read this. (A special thanks to SportsLogos.net, which I reference heavily.)
In honor of MLK Day, we’re going to take a look at the Memphis Grizzlies.
Nickname: Grizzlies is a solid nickname (tough and cool), but has absolutely nothing to do with Memphis, Tennessee. I suggested last fall that the Grizzlies should return to the northwest and the Sacramento Kings could replace them. Kings would make sense because of Elvis (the King), B.B. King, and Martin Luther King Jr. This pays homage to their the city’s culture and history. Grizzlies is still good enough to score them 18/25.
Colors: While the team kept the nickname in it’s move to the southeast, it fortunately scraped everything else from that miserable franchise. I actually really like their colors, even if it breaks my rule of having too many. The differences in their three shades of blue are slight enough that it works with that highlight of yellow. Their blues are even relevant to the city. 17/25
Logo: In the move, they did an excellent job of taking what they had and minimalizing it perfectly. I really like their logo. The grizzly face they use isn’t too real, nor is it cartoony. They even kept the same secondary logo while improving it. Even the font, while nontraditional, is pretty cool. It’s original without going overboard. 22/25
Jersey: It’s biggest knock is the stripes down the sides fans out at the bottom of the shorts and at the sleeves under the arms. But even that isn’t that bad. If they stayed straight, it would be hard to improve upon this jersey. The collar isn’t the best, but it’s far from the many goofy options out there. 20/25
While these marks are only good enough to get the Grizzlies 77% (C+), I probably would’ve given them a B- to B. Where they really get hurt is having a completely irrelevant nickname when the city has so much culture to name a team after. The also take a hit for getting caught up in the trends just a little by doing some funky stuff with the stripes 9maybe a small thing to most people) after they did such a good job of keeping everything else so clean.
But anything is better than what they wore in Vancouver, which scored 53% (F). While I would’ve probably given it something closer to a mere 25%, the Vancouver Grizzlies benefited greatly from having a relevant nickname, which is what damaged their score in Memphis. Even after I calculated an adjusted rating, their scores were only a few points different.
Overall, I like what they did. However, even though it would be messy, I still think relocating them back to the northwest and bringing the Kings to town would make sense. Something to consider.
What do you think of the Grizzlies’ branding?