Rating the Super Bowl Logos: Part V

Previously in this series: Part I | II | III | IV

Super Bowl XXI: A very different approach from the last few, this goes for an even more retro look, while still achieving a new milestone for the future. This is the first Super Bowl logo that actively tries to represent its home stadium with the rose motif, which is very abstract and avant-garde. It’s also very asymmetrical, and I could do without the “Super Bowl” font. It barely even looks like a logo; it’s like they tried desperately to get all the elements they wanted to fit. There is a time and place for the diagonal phrase, but this wasn’t it. Grade: C-.

Super Bowl XXII: This one goes back to the same approach used for recent Super Bowls, to very good effect. It’s nice and simple, the “Super Bowl” font is retro but in a way that befits the toughness of the game, and unlike those earlier games, the Roman numeral isn’t fat and distracting. This is one logo that really makes the game look important, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the model for many of the 90s logos. Grade: A-.

Super Bowl XXIII: Is this a real game, or a video game? With the generic triangles, generic and blocky Roman numerals, and blocky, vaguely pixelated, asymetric “Super Bowl” (most apparent close up), I wouldn’t be surprised if this was made for the Atari 2600 (or at least the original NES). What’s up with the white poofy collar? Why are the triangles placed where they are relative to the Roman numeral? Why is “Super Bowl” so small, are they trying to hide that this is a recycled video game logo? Can I use Bo Jackson to pwn people’s asses in this game? Grade: C.

Super Bowl XXIV: Now they decided to really get modern, and instead of focusing on strict geometrical shapes, have an impossible banner wrapping around the Roman numeral at an angle. The banner kind of makes it seem like a party, but I can’t keep my eyes off the Roman numeral. It’s so blocky (especially viewed close up where you can see the interior gray lines), and vaguely reminicent of the horrible Super Bowl V logo, that it seems an odd fit with the informal “Super Bowl”. Points for effort, but it’s still an awkward logo. Grade: C+.

Super Bowl XXV: A return to the geometrical shapes. This logo re-uses many of the best elements of the Super Bowl XXII logo, and puts it in a vaguely pentagonal shape. The “Super Bowl” doesn’t wrap around the Roman numeral, which helps with readability, and the motif all around it helps it look like a real logo. It almost looks like a police badge or a shield. Once again, a simple logo that gets the job done. Grade: A.

Next time: Logos that looks like the recent logos!

Rating the Super Bowl Logos: Part IV

Previously in this series: Part I | II | III

Super Bowl XVI: Similar logo to the last one, but now it’s gold-embossed and in a fat font with sharp edges. They really tried to make this one look special. And yet… something seems off. Maybe it’s how 80s it all is. Maybe it’s the trapezoidal serifs on the Roman numerals. Maybe it’s something off-putting about the embossed look, like it kind of looks like it’s a logo for Publisher’s Clearing House giveaways. Maybe it’s how it manages to be complex and simple at the same time. But somehow, this seems like a step down. Grade: C+.

Super Bowl XVII: I guess if Pasadena isn’t known for making cars, it’s known for driving them, because this is the second straight logo for a Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl that looks like the front grille of a car, and the comparisons are even more obvious. “Haven’t you heard? The Super Bowl XVII is so much better than the Super Bowl XIV!” This is another candidate for “first modern Super Bowl logo” with the long rounded rectangle containing the words “Super Bowl”. I’m not necessarily feeling this one either; it hasn’t aged well. The long bottom of the “V” is the main thing putting me off, but there’s also how fancy they tried to make the words “Super Bowl”, which can make it hard to read, and the general perplexity of making the Super Bowl look like a car brand. I’m actually vacillating between whether this is a good logo or a bad one, but I’m kind of leaning bad. Grade: C.

Super Bowl XVIII: Simple yet effective, with the “Super Bowl” banner curving impossibly against perfectly serviceable Roman numerals… and yet the font of the words “Super Bowl” kills it instantly. Just look at how wild those letters are and how they manage to make the whole logo cheezy. Although looking at it in long shot, the way the letters of the Roman numeral are crammed together doesn’t help. Grade: C+.

Super Bowl XIX: This is the opposite of the Super Bowl XVIII logo: the “Super Bowl” that flanks the Roman numeral is perfectly servicable, if in a funky 80s font, and the whole pseudo-circle motif really makes this feel like a big football game, but my god, that fat Roman numeral! It’s not as hard to read as you might think, but it’s still an ugly 80s number. Grade: C.

Super Bowl XX: Well, points for looking like the Broadway Video logo. And the Roman numeral, while still fat, isn’t quite as distracting as on the last logo and tries to fit in better. It’s still very 80s, but its simplicity manages to save it from being completely irredeemably cheezy, and instead gives it a certain retro charm. It actually looks like a logo from the 60s or 70s if it weren’t for the fact the Super Bowl didn’t have that kind of logo in that era. Grade: B.

Rating the Super Bowl Logos: Part III

See Part I and Part II of this series.

Super Bowl XI: Basically, a reprise of the Super Bowl VIII logo, only with red, white, and blue colors. I guess because this was the year AFTER the bicentennial and this game was held at the Rose Bowl instead of the South. Oh, and it’s also cramped even though the Roman numeral theoretically takes up less space. All told, this version probably wasn’t quite worth the lack of effort. Grade: C.

Super Bowl XII: Ooh, now they’re really getting fancy! See how it looks like the Roman numeral was signed? This may well be the first Super Bowl logo in the “modern” sense. Now to nitpick: I’m not feeling the font or colors, and the “signed” Roman numeral is painfully 70s and cheezy – and for that matter, hard to read, since it kind of looks like it says “X-11”. Points for effort, and this isn’t a complete embarrassment, but the Super Bowl logos still don’t have a good track record when they try. Grade: C-.

Super Bowl XIII: Simple and generic, but effective. I especially like the dots that form the Roman numeral like it was displayed on a scoreboard, which actually doesn’t lose its legibility close up. The red and blue motif returns as well. My one complaint, if it is a complaint, is the blocky lettering used for the words “Super Bowl”. All in all, however, the best Super Bowl logo done with any effort yet. Grade: B+.

Super Bowl XIV: Well, instead of signing the Roman numeral, they decided to sign “Super Bowl” itself and put the Roman numeral in fat block letters. It actually vaguely looks like the front grille of a Cadillac. “Yeah, I drive a Super Bowl XIV. What’s yours?” This logo doesn’t quite get me ready for some football, but the cursive here isn’t as much of a crime as that from two years ago, even if it is still cheezy and hard to read. Grade: C+.

Super Bowl XV: Went back to the generic route for this one, although the colors are aligned with those of the Saints. This logo is so painfully generic there isn’t much to say about it, neither offensive nor outstanding. I waffled between B- and C+ for this one, and if it didn’t immediately follow the XIV logo it might get a C+. Grade: B-.

Rating the Super Bowl Logos: Part II

See Part I of this series.

Super Bowl VI: After Super Bowl IV’s vaguely Old West styling, this logo goes all the way to looking like it belongs on the door of a saloon, so naturally it represents the Super Bowl’s return to New Orleans. For a Texas Super Bowl, I’d call this possibly the best logo yet. Instead, the saloon-style lettering is just distracting and confusing, maybe even trying too hard to be cute. This is supposed to be the Super Bowl, not a bar fight. Grade: C+.

Super Bowl VII: Oh dear Lord. I’m pining for the glory days of the Super Bowl V logo. It’s the same red and blue striped pattern (in the same font no less) as the Super Bowl V logo (though they did get rid of the awkward smoothed corners on the “E”), only darker and with no white, so it’s really hard on the eyes, and that big blue drop shadow only makes matters worse. The good news is that it looks solid purple from a distance, but then it still looks incredibly generic, like something out of “2001”, and you have to start wondering what the point was. Grade: D.

Super Bowl VIII: Ooh, they spruced it up a little! This is the most distinctive font we’ve had yet, and they fiddled with the presentation a little too! Now the “S” and the “VIII” are a bit bigger than the rest of the words “Super Bowl”. Very nice. Not a bad logo, and vaguely appropriate to this year’s Houston setting, though Tampa would be even more appropriate, since it looks like something a pirate would put up. If I had to nitpick, I’d probably mention the awkwardness of the whole thing, but it’s a minor point. Grade: B.

Super Bowl IX: The Super Bowl continues its quest for less generic logos, and this one I’m not feeling so much. It looks like the intro to a 70s TV show like Three’s Company or something. Because when I look at a Super Bowl logo, I want to be reminded of Three’s Company. And what’s with that little curly thing on the “X”? Is it even supposed to be an “X”, or is it saying horns won’t be allowed in the stadium? Is it some sort of musical notation? Is it a symbol of the Illuminati? Does it point to where the treasure is buried on the back of the Declaration of Independence? Throw me a bone here! Grade: C-.

Super Bowl X: A very serviceable logo with a modern-looking font, with the words “Super” and “Bowl” stacked on top of one another, letting the “X” to the side dominate. Considering this was the tenth edition, I would suggest that maybe more could have been done with the “X”, but it’s still early in the history of Super Bowl logos. Super Bowl IX was the most they’d done with the logo, and we all know how that turned out. But the real question I have is: Why does the leg of the “L” turn into one of the legs of the “X” like that? It’s the one off-putting thing about this logo. Grade: C+.

Rating the Super Bowl Logos: Part I

Partial credit for this idea must be given to the inimitable Lore Sjoberg’s Book Of Ratings, which despite showing its age and not being updated in a while, rates such important things as “Ways To Go Straight Up” and “Aspects of the ATM”, and will tell you, among other things, the clue hiding in plain sight that is the key to capturing Santa Claus and ruining Christmas in a sappy Christmas special. Because I take this sort of thing quite a bit more seriously than he does, and I’m not always quite so imaginative, don’t expect this to be quite so humorous as his entries, but do expect to find it informative and entertaining.

We have reached the end of an era. After 45 years, starting with Super Bowl XLV, the Super Bowl logo will follow the same basic template each year, changing only in the stadium and the Roman numerals. No longer will each Super Bowl have its own distinctive logo giving it its own personality, emphasizing each individual game as an event in its own right. Now every Super Bowl will have virtually the same logo as every other Super Bowl. On this momentous yet sad occasion, I felt it appropriate to look back on the corpus of Super Bowl logos and find out the best, the worst, the ordinary, and the extraordinary.

Super Bowl I: Yes, when the Super Bowl first started it wasn’t known as the Super Bowl, but as the “AFL-NFL Championship Game”. Even granting that, though, I love how this isn’t even a logo; the word “Game” is on the same line as “AFL vs. NFL”. It’s like they added the red and blue outlines to the league names just to spice it up a little, so that when people asked their friends to go to the game with them they’d ask “How do you do that, with the league names in white with colored outlines?” Seriously, I know it was the 60s, and this was probably intended as an exhibition or something (remember, “the AFL can’t compete with the NFL”), but if you’re billing it as a “World Championship Game”, surely you can come up with something better than this to promote it with! Grade: C-.

Super Bowl II: Wait, I thought I’d read that the game wasn’t known as the “Super Bowl” until the third or fourth iteration. Yet here we see the logo refer to it as the “Super Bowl” as early as the second. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if this logo was a retcon anyway; it’s incredibly generic to the point of maybe even being the same font as the first game’s logo, only all caps and with a bit more color. Massive points just for creating something that looks more like a logo than the last one, at least. Although if the first logo is a retcon too I’m tempted to drop it all the way to an F. Grade: C+.

Super Bowl III: Now things start getting interesting, at least a little. The logo has escaped out of the clutches of 60s-style fonts. It’s a lot bigger now, taking up two lines, and the words are red and blue without any outlines. It’s still very generic, which makes the move to two lines a bit head-scratching, and I could do without the stars that make it hard to read close-up, but overall, considering we’re decades away from true logos in the modern sense, a very commendable effort. Though I sense they were going for a patriotic motif, which would make a little more sense for the bicentennial or something. Grade: B-.

Super Bowl IV: A smaller version of the Super Bowl III logo, drained of all its color (it’s now just white with a dark yellow outline and shadow) and adopting an Old West font, which I’d expect for a Texas Super Bowl, but not one in New Orleans. Maybe the colors are supposed to match those of the Saints, but still. It somehow becomes more generic than the last one despite the motif. Props for the shadow representing a little more effort, but it seems that effort was taken away from any attempt at distinctiveness, or of making the game look important. Grade: C.

Super Bowl V: Yes, we’re officially in the 70s now. Now we get this red-and-blue stripe pattern that’s hard on the eyes, a nominee for “Gayest Super Bowl Logo Ever”. What’s worse is how atrocious the font is, like it was computer-generated or something. I’m supposed to take this seriously as the representation of the championship game of your newly merged league? Grade: D+.