Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

PSFK & WSJ Fail to Score TD

In Insight on January 24, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I’m a big fan of PSFK and I respect the work of the Wall St. Journal, so I appreciated their takes on the impact of new logos for NFL teams. But I think they missed a key concept. The premise of the article is that in recent years teams like the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Tamba Bay Buccaneers and this year’s NFC Super Bowl entrant, the Arizona Cardinals have updated their logos and that their subsequent success may not be a coincidence. I would add that going back even further the Cincinnatti Bengals also updated their look shortly before going to the Super Bowl. How much of a difference did it make to the success of the team? It’s hard to say, but the WSJ hints that anecdotal evidence would seem to suggest it had some effect. None of those teams had been to a Super Bowl before they changed logos. I undersand were just talking football here, and not something serious like “real” business, but a deeper analysis was probably in order. That deeper analysis would have turned up a couple of other points worth factoring in:

New logos? Or new talent = Super Bowl

New logos? Or new talent = Super Bowl

Image courtesy of the Wall St. Journal


Like what about the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts – the last three Super Bowl winners (and the Steelers are in it again this year) – teams that have had the same logo since their inceptions – and have by and large been successful franchises. Is staying with tradition as likely to generate success as making a change?

But perhaps more importantly, what other changes did these teams make around the same time they changed their logos?

A little research would show that other factors may have played a larger role in their turnaround than simply a changed logo. For instance, new ownership and a new coach in Tampa Bay. A new coach and player upgrades in Arizona and New England. It’s also important to remember that the NFL is set up differently than regular business. Poor performing teams are given advantages – higher draft choices, easier schedules – that can contribute to improved performance.

This article, which I’m sure was written by the WSJ and supported by PSFK was written with lighthearted intention, but it really does illuminate an important issue. Plenty of brands try to change their fortunes with cosmetic changes like new taglines, different colors and yes, altered logos. But real change – in leadership, in talent – are what leads the way to increased performance – whether we are talking about the NFL or the Fortune 500. The logo change can have benefits like increased merchandise sales and even a new fan perception, but it’s not taking you to the Super Bowl.

  1. […] Can a NFL Team reach the Super Bowl with a simple brand logo change? – Over at EyeCube, Rick Liebling changes this very question from the WSJ.  If there is any truth to this, I really hope the Bengals hire a new design agency fast. […]

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