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Rebranding the Basketball Superleague

Rebranding the Basketball Superleague

Last month, a new basketball league called the Basketball Superleague was announced.  I consider myself pretty plugged-in to such things, if for no other reason than my interest in sports branding, but basketball really isn’t my sport and there are dozens of regional low-level basketball leagues that come and go, so this normally wouldn’t have been noteworthy for me.  Except this announcement included a logo, and it was a familiar one.

I’ve been a member of the community at SportsLogos.Net for decades (I even hosted it for awhile), I’m friends with the site’s founder, and I’ve written for the site at various points in the past.  Even without that context, it would be easy to see that the announced BSL logo had borrowed heavily from the Torch Creative-designed SportsLogos.Net logo.  And that kind of blew my mind.  Lots of sport-related logos borrow (or outright steal) from other logos.  But to do so from the site that documents sports logo history is pretty impressive.

So that got my attention.  And got me thinking about how I would brand a basketball league, something I’d never tried before.

The first thing that came to mind is making something that would remind you of basketball without literally saying basketball.  The original BSL logo could be for anything (I argue the same about the SportsLogos.Net logo itself but there’s history behind it that’s irrelevant to this).  The NBA uses the silhouette of a player, so I knew I would want to avoid that.  I also wanted to avoid using a basketball alone because I felt like the only option for text would be to slap the league abbreviation over it.

I settled on using a ball entering a hoop.  As this is also a defining feature of the BIG3 league logo, I decided to put together a much simpler graphic representation than the one used by the BIG3.

Part of that simplification was making the logo (or logos, as I ended up working up multiple versions) monochrome.  As I wrote about my design for the Grand Rapids Griffins’ “80s night” fauxback jersey contest, I feel like color can be used to imply an era.  Black on white and white on black are relatively timeless.  Black on highlighter-yellow is a modern trend in the NBA.  White on blue or white on red invoke nostalgia to the 1970s and 1980s.

As the BSL was already using the “Industry” font, I carried that over into my design.  The primary version of the logo features the “BSL” abbreviation horizontally next to the ball/hoop element.  There’s a modified version of this where the text “Basketball Superleague” appears below the league abbreviation.  Finally a third version of the logo features the “BSL” letters aligned vertically to the left of the ball/hoop.

That third version is the weakest of the set and, in a world where this identity was actually used, would be intended to be temporary.  My thinking was that a square-ish version of the logo was necessary for things like web/app icons.  Eventually the ball/hoop element would be used on its own, after the BSL used it for long enough to build up brand awareness.  In the meantime, the version with the vertical “BSL” would serve that purpose.

As I mentioned above, by going monochrome, colors can be applied in different ways to give a different feel to the logo.  My intent is that the black and white versions would be the primary ones but that black could be used on any suitably bright color (or any suitably bright color could be used on black) while white could be used on any suitably dark color (and vice-versa).

BSL logo concepts with various color usages.

I should be clear, despite the BSL’s pledge to work with SportsLogos.Net’s Chris Creamer on a new league logo, I never intended to pitch this design to the league.  A professional basketball league should be paying a professional designer for a project like this.  I didn’t want to put more than a couple hours of doodling into it.  I’d rather keep it as a concept than allow it to be used by the league to cheap out on paying what a league brand identity is actually worth.

After I designed this but before I decided to post it, the BSL did announce a new logo.  For the record, I kind of like it.  It gives me a “fleur-de-leaf” vibe.  There’s some stuff I would tweak but that’s neither here nor there at this point.

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