The Washington Wizards Brand: Old School vs. New School

The Washington Wizards take plenty of heat, commonly appearing in the same sentence with words like: mediocre, inconsistent, embarrassing, disappointing, irrelevant...and what's up with that creepy wizard? While it's definitely old news that the team unveiled a new logo in May 2011, fans and casual observers are now noticing the change as the NBA's season is in full swing.

In true capital city form, the Wizards took the safe route, transitioning to the patriotic red-white-blue color scheme and incorporating the Washington Monument wherever possible. It could be worse - the team could've given into fans' calls to revive the famed Washington Bullets brand, but that would've made the Wizards a punchline yet again in the running joke that is Washington sports.

The Wizards have quite a history: they began as the Chicago Packers in 1961 and later changed their name to the Zephyrs. In 1963, the franchise moved to Baltimore, Maryland and became the Baltimore Bullets. Let's take a look at how it all began:

The original Bullets logo from 1963/64 - 1968/69: It's hard not to *wince*

The team logo from 1974/75 - 1986/87: Thankfully, the flying
bullet is gone and we're playing with two hands

Official team logo from 1987/88 - 1996/97

The original Washington Bullets uniform

Major brand overhaul from 1997/98 - 2006/07: We meet the wizard

Alternate logo from 1997/98 - 2006/07

The old school Washington Wizards uniform

The 2011 Transition: Quite a dramatic shift, no? {read: sarcasm}

Alternate logo #1: In tribute to the team's history, this graphic mimics
the “i’s” in the former all lowercase Washington Bullets logo,
as well as the hand reaching for a ball

Alternate logo #2: A nice graphic incorporating the Washington
Monument, but it doesn't seem to fit with the overall brand package

Alternate word marks: Can you spot the Washington
Monument? Enough already! There's also a lack of
consistency with the use of uppercase and lowercase.

The new school Washington Wizards uniform: It all comes together
pretty nicely here, but that's mostly due to the use of color-blocking
and the arrangement of elements than the brand marks

So the "monumental" question is: Did the Wizards get it right? Does their attempt to blend old school and new school qualify as an improvement, a major disappointment or is it simply "meh"-worthy?

TSR's Call: As they so often do on the court, the Washington Wizards missed a golden opportunity. There is no winner here.

This was their chance to make a statement. With Ted Leonsis' leadership, the Wizards could've made a major change to excite fans and the basketball world by doing the unthinkable: getting rid of that stupid wizard. As one of the lamest mascots ever, there's just no way to make this team's identity cool with a wizard attached to it. So please, give it up!

Washington could've polled fans to pick a new franchise name (a la the Oklahoma City Thunder) and reinvigorated the city's sports scene with a completely new look. They could've gotten really crazy and even considered NOT using red-white-blue to distinguish themselves from DC's other teams. In theory, it's nice to unify the city's sports teams, but when you can't tell the difference between a Capitals, Nationals and Wizards shirt from the back, everything just seems too similar. Teams thrive on their unique identities and fans want to be part of that.

In predictable fashion, the Wizards had their shot and missed. There could be a comeback in their future, but they have to be willing to take the risk and finally make that creepy wizard magically disappear.

Do you agree with TSR's call? Sound off in the comments!


The Style Ref

1 comment:

  1. I’ll preface my comment by saying that while I am not a huge basketball fan, I have always liked the Bullets/Wizards.

    I disagree that they have the ~lamest mascot. Grizzlies? Bobcats? (that was the name of my basketball team when I was 12 btw.) and Thunder? Really, THUNDER? Reminds me of the MLS team: San Jose Earthquakes. Who's coming up with these names? Weather enthusiasts?

    I recently went to a Wizards game and immediately noticed that their uniforms looked much like their Bullets era uniforms and it excited me. The lack of excitement from other fans however, was so disappointing. We were playing the Lakers and there was so much yellow and purple in the stands that it could have been mistaken for a slow day at the staples center. Regardless of what brand or logo the Wizards have, I think it's time that fans and players come together and show the loyalty to their team that Washington is known for. I mean, look at the redskins, they suck and yet their fan base has to be one of the most dedicated in the NFL.

    And IMO the Wizards and Magic should have a glorious rivalry based on their names alone. Rivalries always excite players and fans!! ;)

    ***DC United needs our support as well DC!! They’re uniforms are flawless, btw! 