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August 11, 2005

Logo Limbo

Posted in: Art/Design,Sports

Kobe Logo Vince Logo Tiger Logo Lebron Logo Mike Logo

Which of these things is not like the others? A few weeks back, Nike launched a line of Kobe Bryant-branded shoes with a spanking new logo (far left), putting him in elite company. Only Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Vince Carter have attained similar stature at the king of sneakers. But, what of the logo itself?

To put it bluntly: not so much. Take a look at the logo compared to those of Kobe’s colleagues (red to right). Vince’s has sweeping strokes that say “bird” while at the same time evoking human shoulders and a body: man in flight. Tiger’s presents a refined flag — a prefect match for golf’s conservative image — with his initials cleverly inlaid. Lebron’s L23 isn’t quite as refined, but the pattern is pleasing enough and his moniker “King James” is clearly alluded to by the mini-crown. And, of course nobody can top Jordan. His logo is simply classic.

So, what again of Kobe? What exactly is his logo saying? One could argue that it has a kind of “iron man” torso thing going on; is the statement supposed to be strength? Some have compared it a certain male body part, which would be unfortunate for anyone but is particularly so for Bryant considering his recent history. The CCO of SME finds the logo to be “devoid of any specific Kobe characteristic.” Ouch. For me, somehow it brings to mind the Citgo logo and not much else. No matter how you look at it, though, this level of confusion isn’t exactly what you shoot for in a high profile logo. At this level, logos are supposed to communicate, and effortlessly.

With the clearly strong pool of talent at Nike, how could this happen? One might guess that Mr. Pigheaded insisted on a logo that appeals to him personally regardless of the public’s reaction. Another possibility is that Nike, annoyed when Kobe’s legal entanglements appeared almost the instant after they signed him to a huge shoe deal, didn’t put their best people on the project. A third option is that Nike is just slippin’ in the marketing department.

This final option seems unlikely, though, as Nike continues to turn out astonishing ads consistently. In an industry where products are so similar, the Nike marketing machine is impressively on point, and necessarily so. Surely their next anointed one will recieve a logo that’s not so, well, “devoid.”

For more, see the ESPN story on Kobe’s kicks, check out the ‘boards cache of hot Nike spots, and recall Nike’s seamy underbelly

images grabbed from nike.com

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