Meant to post this when it was announced a few months ago, but can we take a look at all of the oddities of the Cleveland MLB team’s new name and visual identity? Let’s leave out the political discussions. There is plenty to talk about just on the branding side of things, anyway.
First, the name - “Guardians.” I get that the statues are iconic, historic pieces of the fabric of the city of Cleveland. In fact, they’re one of if not the first images in the opening montage of “Major League.” But I’m extremely curious to know, do Clevelanders (Clevelandites? Clevelandians?) actually like these things? I mean, their official name is the “Guradians of Traffic.” Traffic might be the lamest thing to dedicate a statue to outside of…I don’t know…sewer systems. Are they looked at with any sort of nostalgia or reverence? If so, more power to the name choice. But the initial backlash I’ve seen from longtime residents and fans gives me the feeling that the statues are looked at as more of an oddity than a point of pride.
It’s also tough to ignore the fact that the wordmark’s typeface is extremely similar visually to one of the existing variations of “Indians” and that they both share the letters “dians” at the end. It kinda makes you wonder if part of the decision-making process around choosing a new name involved looking for one with as many of the same letters as the old. Brand continuity is great and all, but wasn’t the whole point of this exercise to distance themselves from the previous name? Recycling the last five letters and the last two syllables of your old name might not be the best way to go about that. Again, just odd.
Finally, the icon. I dig the clean, retro vibe of it. Sports logos often fall victim to looking too modern and trendy and consequently feel dated very quickly. Baseball is a sport in love with its heritage, so I a retro strategy really makes sense. But…the actual execution is just plain weird. It’s drawn in three-dimensional space. Cool. The wings and the top half of the Gs are isometric. Also cool. But the bottom of the front G is either in perspective or slightly askew for…reasons. Also, regardless of whether they’re in isometric or two-point perspective, the two Gs are not aligned. The back G is positioned slightly lower than the front.
The real kicker for me, though, is the baseball. There are some M.C. Escher-level shenanigans going on here, because that thing isn’t a sphere. Based on the sizes and positions of the Gs, and the amount of space between them, that ball is considerably taller than it is wide. If you were to look at the three-dimensional icon from the front, it would look approximately like the crooked, squeezed image on the left rather than the properly-aligned, spacially-accurate image on the right:
That said. I kind of get it. The perspective (or lack thereof) and the squished baseball both seem like the kinds of things that might look weird if you drew them out “perfect” or “correct.” I can absolutely see a nudge here and a tweak there getting things to where they’ve ultimately landed. At the end of the day, though, it’s all just a tiny bit too off for me to not be distracted by the oddities.
In summary - cool retro visual language, weird name choice, weird visual execution. Thoughts?