My nephew brought to my attention recently the logo for the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team in the National Hockey League (NHL). Because he reads my column (and lives in the Columbus, Ohio area), it cued his imagination, he told me, that the existing logo (bottom left) has a few quirks about it.
In looking at the logo, it does indeed have a couple curiosities. That reversed flag for one, and the star—what’s the star signify? The Blue Jackets have been in the NHL for 20 years, and the logo designs have been changed a few times.
Sports logos, I’ve found, are generally based on emotion. Especially logos for teams in sports that evoke a high stress factor among the fans—sports that are among the more physical in nature. Football and hockey are two of the toughest sports in the world, certainly in this country. One of the alternate Columbus logos has an angry wasp or bee holding a hockey stick, one of thousands of emotionally driven designs that might engender fans to root vigorously for the local team.
An emotion-driven logo design in sports is not necessarily accurate in depicting the mascot for the team in question. Plus, to further the inaccuracy, almost all of these designs are cartoonish in nature, exaggerating the aggressiveness of the sports’ players. I’m not certain just where the cartoon genre for sports logos comes from, but I’m going to guess that designers for these logos call on their visual experience from looking at comic book heroes—including such characters as Mighty Mouse—who summarily vanquish the enemy to smithereens.
Let’s face it, the most vocal of fans would like to see something like that happen, on the gridiron or the ice, however momentarily they imagine it. All in good sportsmanship, of course.
I’m zeroing in on the Columbus Blue Jacket logo because it was brought to my attention and I want to comb over it and figure out just what the intention was in designing it. I don’t know if it was designed by one person (not common in today’s world) and if it was possibly submitted in a design contest. But there were many submitted designs for this logo that are not shown here.
Back to the quirks I cited: the flag and the star. The Ohio flag (bottom center) is unique among state flags in this country for being the only pennant formatted design. The design also has certain similarities to the Cuba flag (bottom right). Ohio was the 17th state admitted to the union, which is referenced by the 17 stars in the flag. But the flag in the logo has just 12 stars. Plus, the flag in the logo is “swished” as a shape coming from the behind a star to the foreground, resulting in the reversed flag positioning. This bothered my nephew more than anything, and he’s not a designer. But he’s learning.
The star, according to Wikipedia, is supposed to signify that Columbus is the state capital. I’m not sure that’s of any real importance here, unless most Ohioans are not sure just what their state capital is. But it must be noted that the entire design could be used for the city of Columbus, because there is no reference to a sport in the design: there’s just the star and the flag in the “C” configuration.
I realize—and I’m more than certain that some readers will mentally reference other sports teams logos—that designs such as two red socks (Boston Red Sox logo) don’t hardly depict a sports team, either. But I’m talking about modern sports logos here. We can debate old logos until the next millennium.
Also, from what I’ve read about the history of this logo, the name “Blue Jackets” is derived from the Ohio contingent that was instrumental in the Union Army in the Civil War. But that reference was used only in a recent logo (top right). It’s that reference—or more appropriately why it was dropped—that seems odd to me. And then I realized there might be a reason for that.
Although I haven’t researched it further—they might’ve dumped that theme is because of the war itself. I figure that if they’re getting rid of Confederate statues in the south because of perpetuating hateful memories, then the owners here are covering their butts for similar reasons. That makes sense to me, and also because that logo would then be the only one in major sports celebrating the Union victory in a war that everyone would rather not recall as a victory.
Sports nicknames themselves are all over the place. Some are regionally referenced (Pittsburgh Steelers) while others are not (Pittsburgh Penguins). In any case, the Blue Jacket name sounds a little too remote as referenced to the Civil War and a logo using imagery from it not politically sound in this polarized climate we have in this country.
The existing logo of the flag and star is too generic and without any reference to hockey. I would keep the name, but change the logo to a Blue Jacket bee.