Meet Rick Bakas, Former Nike Designer

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Rick Bakas, a graphic designer and creative director who spent eight years working for Nike early in his career. We hope that today’s entry, which will serve as an introduction of sorts, will be the first of many contributions from him. Enjoy. — PL]

By Rick Bakas

As a kid growing up in Denver in the 1970s and early ’80s, I remember having a distinct brand experience with Nike. In third grade, one of my classmates came to school wearing the royal blue Nike Cortez sneakers with the giant yellow swoosh. Until that moment, the only things that had generated as much buzz in our class were the Ataris we all got for Christmas.

Other kids might have wanted to be astronauts or firefighters when they grew up, but at that exact moment I decided I wanted to work for Nike. As luck would have it, my family moved to Portland, Oregon, during my senior year of high school. In fact, we moved to a house down the street from Nike’s world headquarters.

After getting my design degree, I partnered with a friend to create a clothing line called AnyWear Gear, which was sold at Nordstrom on the west coast and was picked up in Japan by some skateboarding shops. As a 24-year-old, I was good at design but not at business — the brand was growing but we weren’t making any money. Fortunately, someone at Nike noticed AnyWear, and that led to my being hired as a graphic designer in the Team Sports division of Nike apparel in October of 1995 — a dream come true. The company was expanding its apparel business on-field in an effort to be the authentic head-to-toe brand worn by pro and college athletes.

What I didn’t know at that time was that I would be part of a small team of designers who would change the face of team sports through apparel innovations and a series of high-profile team identity redesigns.

Our ring leader was Ken Black, an art director who had studied at the pinnacle of design education — the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. The architect and creative director for our team was Todd Van Horne, who was one of the coolest people a creative person could ever work for. He was part long board skateboarder, part soccer fanatic, and part “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski.

Just as the NFL had the so-called Bill Walsh coaching tree, producing legendary coaches like Jon Gruden, Dennis Green, Ray Rhodes, Mike Holmgren, and Steve Mariucci, our Black/Van Horne design tree produced designers like Scott Patt (currently head of design for the footwear brand Cole Haan) and Rodney Richardson (head of Rare Design, which has done many of the recent NBA team redesigns), and Eric Bodamer (currently doing NHL uniform design for Adidas). We may have joined Nike as a ragtag crop of fresh-faced graphic designers, but we came out armed with a deep understanding of sports branding.

During my time at Nike, I was fortunate enough to serve on the teams responsible for redesigning the Denver Broncos (very special for me, since I grew up in Denver as a Broncos fan), the University of Oregon Ducks, the New York Giants, the Florida State Seminoles, the Portland State Vikings and Team Jordan. Rodney Richardson and I also worked on logo and uniform concepts for the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, although neither of those projects saw the light of day.

I left Nike in 2003, when I had to move back to Colorado due to a family emergency. I did some design work for the Sports Authority in south Denver and have done some other sports branding projects, including updating the brand for Sacramento State.

Why am I telling you all this? Because as I look around the world of sports branding and uniform design, it disheartens me to see where the trends are going. Timeless design and brand equity have given way to cartoony team logos, greed, and manufactured retail spikes. It’s no longer a matter of creating a timeless iconic sports brand like the Los Angeles Lakers or the Green Bay Packers, who respect their team heritage by keeping a consistent brand year over year. Now it’s all about changing team logos every five years and watering down the brand equity with multiple versions of a popular player’s jersey. There are so many different Lebron James jerseys on the market that it’s hard to know which one is the authentic version. Will the real Cleveland Cavaliers please stand up?

In the weeks and months to come, I look forward to drawing upon my experiences at Nike to share more thoughts about the current state of uniform design with readers of Uni Watch. If you have any particular questions, or topics that you’d like me to explore, please feel free to post them in today’s comments.

100 comments to Meet Rick Bakas, Former Nike Designer

  • Oakville Endive | January 12, 2018 at 8:12 am |

    Could be wrong but the 80’s fauxback link doesn’t look too 80’s to me. It looks like what won the competition?

    • Oakville Endive | January 12, 2018 at 8:22 am |

      Sorry I get it, the contest was the 80’s fauxback, I thought two separate designs. I guess the first half still applies – that middle stripe is the hottest fashion statement today in terms of hockey uniforms

      • Rob S | January 12, 2018 at 9:15 am |

        I think it actually has a bit of a late-1970s feel to it, probably because of the typography. Something that could’ve carried over into the 1980s.

  • Greg | January 12, 2018 at 8:33 am |

    He was on the team that redesigned the Broncos? Definitely will be interesting to hear how they came up with a design that was such a radical departure.
    I always find it interesting how the manufacturers have so much say in the uniform redesigns. I would have think the teams in house marketing, equipment, and management would have some basic ideas on what they want, and the manufacturers then create variations of said concepts.

    • Paul Lukas | January 12, 2018 at 8:48 am |

      I always find it interesting how the manufacturers have so much say in the uniform redesigns.

      They don’t always. It depends. Some teams place themselves in the manufacturer’s hands and say, “Here’s what we want — go to town.” Other teams keep things more tightly controlled in-house.

      • Greg | January 12, 2018 at 9:08 am |

        Thanks for the clarification. Hopefully future articles with Mr Bakas can get into some real world examples of this. I’d love to hear the background of how the designs developed in various scenarios. I’m guessing they fall into 1. hey, we want something like this concept, 2. just make sure you feature our existing team colors and logo, and 3. go nuts with it.

        • Special K | January 12, 2018 at 6:31 pm |

          As an architect, we also have some clients who have a very definite idea of what they want and may have some sketches that they have already done to show you, and other clients give you lots of freedom to design it however you want. This is probably true for any design profession, whether it be building design, graphic design, uniform design, or anything else.

      • Lou | January 12, 2018 at 9:43 am |

        I would love to hear from him about whether they intended for the Broncos jersey side and pants stripes to form a swoosh when the linemen take their positions. I am pretty sure I have read that Nike denied this, but I find it too obvious to not have been intentional.

        • jacket18 | January 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm |

          [quote]I would love to hear from him about whether they intended for the Broncos jersey side and pants stripes to form a swoosh when the linemen take their positions. I am pretty sure I have read that Nike denied this, but I find it too obvious to not have been intentional.[/quote]

          This raises an interesting question (at least to me). During a uniform design, how much time to they typically spend examining how the design will look on the field (i.e. on different players, in different positions, etc.)? It’s really only “too obvious” if you look at an OL in position. If you mostly look at players standing, running, etc., I’d argue it’s hardly obvious.

        • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 1:32 pm |

          @Lou I can tell you with 100% certainty none of us intended the side stripes to look like a swoosh. If you knew how stringent NIKE legal was about how the swoosh is used, you would know how quickly they’d shoot that idea down. That is a conspiracy theory that was hatched by Woody Paige when he wrote for the Post.

          The side stripes were meant to be visual cues to the technology in the uniform. Before that ‘Bat Wing’ jersey made its debut, football uniforms used to hang loosely. Our genius uniform designer worked to create a fabric ‘hinge’ that would allow full range of movement while keeping the fabric tight.

      • Thomas | January 12, 2018 at 11:01 am |

        My question would be how the Broncos design came to feature the split helmet stripes.

      • John | January 12, 2018 at 1:46 pm |

        Tell this dude, thanks for the Broncos uni change, he really messed up a great uniform. That idiot.

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 1:28 pm |

      @Greg We’ll definitely be delving into that. In the near future I’ll share the story behind how the Broncos identity came to be along with some examples of sketches along the way. We should probably explore the Oregon Ducks unis as well. I was the lead designer on that project, but left before they really dialed up the uniform options.

      • Greg | January 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm |

        Thanks Rick. As you lamented at the end of your post, it is sad to see the goal of a timeless design being replaced with the goal of interchangeable costumes for sales purposes. I think of the recent Bucs redesign, nothing wrong with what they had before, in some ways it had become a modern classic (even though I prefer the white helmets and orange jersey) the Nike update seemed like change for the sake of change.
        Re: Oregon, can’t wait to hear about your experience there and how it went so far to the pure nonsense they put out now.
        Also I’d love to hear to what extent the teams and designers poll for fan input. Seems like so many new designs get poor reviews, do they even bother to see what the fans like?

  • Chris | January 12, 2018 at 8:41 am |

    Love today’s leade by Rick, why all the bumper stickers on the newer uniforms, Az cards, Falcons etc?

    Why does the pants striping not fully extend on some teams?

    Has any owner been over ruled by Nike, ie if they wanted to do a more traditional redesign but Nike wanted to do something nuts like with the Browns?

    Why are more newer logos just of the heads of an animal only, like the Eagles & Rams?

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 1:32 pm |

      @Chris we’ll be exploring all these topics. Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

  • Graham | January 12, 2018 at 8:43 am |

    Paul – Thanks for the link to the piece on the pencil factory. Do you have a favorite pencil?

    • Paul Lukas | January 12, 2018 at 8:49 am |

      I do not have a favorite pencil. But I agree that it sounds like something I would have.

    • Winter | January 12, 2018 at 10:26 am |
    • Rob Ullman | January 12, 2018 at 11:45 am |

      I love the Blackings, but for drawing/sketching, I almost exclusively use Prismacolor ColErase pencils. I usually opt for blue or carmine red, but I like to use many of the other colors, particularly green and tuscan red, as well. They’re perfect.

    • mike 2 | January 12, 2018 at 12:14 pm |

      For my fellow pencil lovers:

      http://www.erasable.us/

      You might say “there’s not enough stuff about pencils to support 88 episodes of a podcast about pencils”. You’d be wrong.

    • Joseph | January 12, 2018 at 3:11 pm |

      Wood: Yellow Ticonderoga #2 (old school, I know). I liked the Mirado Black Warrior before Papermate bought then out and ruined it.

      Mechanical: old school twist-to-feed Cross .9 mm (sadly out of production). Pentel .9 mm drafting pencil gets the job down though.

  • Silver Creek Dawg | January 12, 2018 at 8:49 am |

    Dufner doesn’t have a hat deal for the current PGA Tour season, so he’s wearing quite a few different models. He was born in Cleveland, which explains the Indians cap. He also wore a Notorius B.I.G. hat at the TOC event last week amongst many others.

    http://www.golf.com/extra-spin/2018/01/08/jason-dufner-has-taken-hat-style-new-level-2018

    • Mainspark | January 12, 2018 at 11:19 am |

      I don’t think he’s in contract with Titleist anymore. He’s still using the Pro V1x ball but is now using a TaylorMade M4 Driver. Also for the last few years he was sponsored by Vineyard Vines and that also seems to have lapsed.

      • Silver Creek Dawg | January 12, 2018 at 3:14 pm |

        I was a professional golfer earlier in life. My hat deal was separate from my club deal. That being said, the manufacturers offer you more money if you wear their logo on the hat and play their clubs/ball. Even more money is given to you if the manufacturers logo is on the front of the cap rather than the side. I don’t think Duf has an equipment deal for this season, which will allow him to mix and match as he sees fit. He gets the equipment/clubs/balls/gloves for free, but he isn’t being paid to endorse/use the stuff.

  • CW | January 12, 2018 at 8:58 am |

    Ryan Blaney link in the Grab Bag doesn’t lead where it should

    • Paul Lukas | January 12, 2018 at 9:03 am |

      Fixed.

  • Tim | January 12, 2018 at 9:02 am |

    I believe the Mankato Moondogs play in the Northwoods League, a college wood bat summer league. It’s not minor league ball as far as I know.

    • Paul Lukas | January 12, 2018 at 9:04 am |

      Fixed.

      • JAson | January 12, 2018 at 9:32 am |

        Blaney link still doesn’t seem to be working. It just opens today’s entry.

        • Paul Lukas | January 12, 2018 at 9:38 am |

          Fixed-fixed.

  • Steve | January 12, 2018 at 9:05 am |

    I enjoyed Rick’s backstory, and look forward to his future contributions. I’d love if he would take us through a detailed look into the Broncos and Giants redesign processes he was a part of.

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 1:28 pm |

      @Steve Will do. And the Oregon Ducks too.

      • Steve | January 15, 2018 at 9:22 am |

        Thanks Rick!

  • ScottyM | January 12, 2018 at 9:24 am |

    Why has Nike done such a poor job of differentiating its collegiate partners? There was a period, from about 2006 to recently, where nearly every type style on their basketball jerseys were sans serif, block letters, arranged horizontally.

    No arch. No serif. Nothing unique. For example, the U of Texas going from its western stylized face to a sans block (with zero character tied to its brand).

    • walter | January 12, 2018 at 9:28 am |

      In this respect, the NBA has it totally over college basketball with respect to design. But I’d still like to see the player names vertically arched.

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 1:36 pm |

      @ScottyM My best guess on that is they probably have some junior level designer who created a template for ease of implementation and development. Can’t think of why else that might be.

  • walter | January 12, 2018 at 9:25 am |

    Working in pencil reinforces the concept of “actual size”, which in computer environments is more of an abstraction.

    • Rob S | January 12, 2018 at 9:28 am |

      Certainly. What you see on a computer screen varies by monitor size and resolution.

  • Rob S | January 12, 2018 at 9:32 am |

    Interesting to see that Rick worked on the Giants among his projects. I actually prefer the early 2000s white Giants uniforms to their current straight-throwback white jersey, since unlike the current jersey, the 2000 version has some blue on it.

  • Phil Hecken | January 12, 2018 at 9:51 am |

    Great lede today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Rick!

    I, for one, would love to hear MUCH more about the whole Nikegon experience. Obviously, that revolutionized the whole college football uni world. BFBS, different uni combo for every game, even adding diamondplate as a uni element. I would love to know all!

  • JessMan | January 12, 2018 at 10:15 am |

    Once again the KHL gets it right with their all-star uni’s. Just beautiful.

    Also none of the in-line images on the site are loading for me today except the curling towels and NHL stamps. All broken jpgs. On my end or yours?

    • Paul Lukas | January 12, 2018 at 10:23 am |

      Working fine for me.

    • Rob S | January 12, 2018 at 4:58 pm |

      I’ve had no issues with the images.

  • hazzbrojonez | January 12, 2018 at 10:41 am |

    meh the Rick insight was cool i guess, dude seems rather out of touch with some aspects….

    like the cartoony logo comment

    dude you started at nike in 1995, by 1995 we were already neck deep in cartoon logos in all 4 big leagues…….it was some trend that saw an uptick after your time at nike.
    hell by 2000 2001 teams were already shedding those late 80s mid 90s cartoon graphics……..

    also, all of those Lebron James jerseys are authentic, i dont even understand the comment….i just don’t see how someone who worked this close to team rebrands at one of the biggest conglomerates could have the audacity to even comment on the Cavaliers identity/alternate jerseys/etc. and also some who worked that close to re-brands has no clue that sometimes teams and franchises are so desperate for success that they think something like aesthetics can have a part in it……

    just seems oblivious or tone deaf to make those comments coming where you came from…….

    by the time dude left Nike in 2003, oregon already had 5 different jersey designs lol
    were you even paying attention?

    this just reminds me of the people who have worked at Lucasfilm for 30 years making bone-headed decisions these days about star wars….its like were you not paying attention?????

    sorry for the rant but that whole paragraph rubbed me the wrong way. i can be the only one that sees the ludicrousness in some of his comments…………

    …………..

    • hazzbrojonez | January 12, 2018 at 10:46 am |

      sorry here are corrections. i meant WASNT and CANT

      it WASN’T some trend that saw an uptick after your time at nike

      ong way. i CAN’T be the only one that sees the ludicrousness in some of his com

      • vintagevinny | January 12, 2018 at 12:54 pm |

        i too, saw the ludicrousness, hazzbrojonez

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 1:47 pm |

      @hazzbrojonez Kids love cartoons. Kids love sports. The theory is that the cartoony logo trend started to appeal to a younger audience. But that can also alienate older audiences.

      Think of it like Honda/Acura. You can bring in the Honda level of consumer and appeal to a general audience. It’s hard to go up the scale from there. But if you come in at the Acura level of quality, it’s easier to appeal to that level PLUS the Honda level below.

      We were after creating the Acura level of identity. 20 years later, the team brands are still timeless and modern. That’s actually hard to achieve.

      The year the Broncos identity was introduced, the NY Islanders introduced the Fisherman logo. That logo was cartoony and it lasted 2 years. The Broncos logo is still going strong. NIKE was not responsible for any of the cartoony logos coming out back then. Those came from an agency in NY called SME, however, they are no longer around.

    • G | January 12, 2018 at 5:38 pm |

      just wanted to interject i was about to come in and say somethign similar,

      also working for such a big company as nike, as i have done, then you’d know that there is only ever ONE official James jersey, its the one made by the people who make the jersey he wears and is normally called the on filed/authentic/player or something like that and is always the most expensive,

      the kit suppliers will always also do a fan jersey thats less money but matches it closely, called a replica/fan jersey or similar

      all the others are companies with licenses, making teams that mimic the original but are clearly not the on field tops, you can tell that buy the fact its not the kit supplier making them.

      case in point, i can buy

      Authentic on field Majestic Yankee’s Jersey or a Nike fan jersey
      or
      Authentic on court Nike Cav’s Jersey or a Majestic fan jersey

  • RyCo | January 12, 2018 at 10:47 am |

    Rick says that he was:

    “fortunate enough to serve on the teams responsible for redesigning the Denver Broncos (very special for me, since I grew up in Denver as a Broncos fan), the University of Oregon Ducks, etc…”

    but then goes on to say:

    “I look around the world of sports branding and uniform design, it disheartens me to see where the trends are going. Timeless design and brand equity have given way to cartoony team logos…….. It’s no longer a matter of creating a timeless iconic sports brand like the Los Angeles Lakers or the Green Bay Packers, who respect their team heritage by keeping a consistent brand year over year. Now it’s all about changing team logos every five years and watering down the brand equity with multiple versions of a popular player’s jersey”

    what was Rick’s opinions on those Broncos and Ducks uniforms when they were creating them? it would seem to me that design team led the way for all of these awful uniform designs, no?

    i’m really not trying to be a jerk, because what a fantastic opportunity Rick had in the design world… but… come on. am i wrong?

    • Ted Nik | January 12, 2018 at 11:44 am |

      Have to agree here.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t this blog taken Nike and the other manufacturers to task over the years in creating crappy designs. Wasn’t it the manufacturers who pushed for, or persuaded the teams to come up with, new designs seemingly year in and year out. Sports-related clothing is a multi-billion dollar industry and the “beast” has to be fed every year with new designs – the quirkier the better it seems. It’s a generational thing I suppose and at this point guys like us are spitting into the wind.

      • Paul Lukas | January 12, 2018 at 12:04 pm |

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t this blog taken Nike and the other manufacturers to task over the years in creating crappy designs.

        Yes, of course. I’m on record as hating the Broncos’ design. That doesn’t mean there’s no value in hearing from one of the people who created it. Having Rick’s voice on the site is not an endorsement of everything he’s ever done, just as Todd Radom’s frequent appearances on the site do not constitute an endorsement of everything *he’s* ever done. But it’s always interesting to hear from designers and get their point of view.

        • Tim | January 12, 2018 at 2:17 pm |

          Wholly agree.

          Would like to hear further about the apparent oxymoron of creating the Oregon look and now saying the Oregon look is cartoonish…a very true statement.

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 1:54 pm |

      @RyCo There’s always a bit of subjectivity when talking about this subject. When we introduced the Broncos identity, there was some backlash from fans. Change is hard, and the changes we made were dramatic.

      However, I’ve seen ‘Coolest Team Logos’ lists before, including on ESPN over the years. Both the Broncos and Ducks have been at the top of those lists before.

      I consider them a success because 20 years later, both of those identities are both strong and modern. It’s actually really hard to accomplish something like that in this industry.

      Moreover, the Broncos went on to win 3 Super Bowls in the new uniforms. Love ’em or hate ’em, that’s the only stat the organization cares about. The new look is associated with winning championships.

      The year the Ducks new look came out they ended up at No. 2 on the CFB poll and Joey Harrington was nominated for a Heisman. The New York Giants went to the Super Bowl against the Ravens in their new look.

      To answer your question more directly, I was on the initial design teams. The many logo variations happened after I left. I do have some opinions about the numerous uni options that will be shared here. I’m not a fan of it and find it gimmicky.

      • RyCo | January 12, 2018 at 2:11 pm |

        but you cant say that either the Broncos or Ducks is a “Timeless design” that “respect their team heritage”

        that’s my gripe

        • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 2:34 pm |

          I hear ya. So much as changed since those days. You made some good points that we’ll be exploring in future posts.

  • Mike Ortman | January 12, 2018 at 10:47 am |

    “Pencils eschew digital jiujitsu,” may be the greatest sentence ever written.

  • Omar Jalife | January 12, 2018 at 10:52 am |

    The Army has filed a trademark claim against the NHL team.
    https://deadspin.com/united-states-army-files-trademark-claim-against-vegas-1822005024

    • Arron Swink | January 12, 2018 at 3:17 pm |

      Best part of that article? In the game photo, the Golden Knights’ opponents are the Rangers. Wonder what the Army thinks of that?!

  • MotorCityJeff | January 12, 2018 at 10:55 am |

    Every time I see Kris Gross as I start the ticker, I do a double take because I think it says Kris Kross.

    • Brent | January 12, 2018 at 1:44 pm |

      Does it make you jump jump?

      • Rick Bakas | January 13, 2018 at 6:01 pm |

        LOL! nice

  • Kek | January 12, 2018 at 11:06 am |

    Strongly agree with Ryco and Hazzbro here. The Oregon designs begat the very thing Rick laments as far as the timeless and iconic comment.

    • RS Rogers | January 12, 2018 at 12:53 pm |

      Which doesn’t necessarily reflect on Rick or his work on Oregon or Denver. An innovative design might become so widely copied or imitated that it appears, in retrospect, to be cliche. But a new thing is not cliche at the time, and a novel thing is not, by definition, part of a trend at the time it appears. The trend only happens later, and is largely beyond the control of the original innovator. I assume one doesn’t redesign the Broncos intending for every football team to copy the new design approach. One can, for example, appreciate the innovative-at-the-time approach taken to designing Camden Yards and bemoan the unfortunate faux-retro copycatism of the dozen or so ballparks that followed.

      Which gets to my question for Rick: To what extent was design work for major clients done in isolation as stand-alone work, and to what extent does the design process in-house at Nike integrate with other existing and potential future Nike work for other clients and/or Nike’s own branded properties?

      • RyCo | January 12, 2018 at 1:05 pm |

        i think a more accurate analogy would be, Rick designing the SkyDome, but being disheartened that teams aren’t rebuilding Forbes & Ebbets Fields…

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 2:04 pm |

      @Kek I had nothing to do with what the Ducks did with their uniforms after I left. I designed the ‘O’, the initial typeface and color scheme. After that, a different department took over and I left the company.

      Not a fan of what they’ve done with it. It’s gimmicky, but they did it in an effort to recruit the best players in the country so they could compete with other iconic programs, especially in the SEC.

  • Joe Hilseberg | January 12, 2018 at 11:29 am |

    As a designer myself who always dreamt of working in sports full time, I am super excited to see future entries from Rick Bakas. It sounds like he has literally lived my dream.

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 2:01 pm |

      @Joe Feeling very blessed (and lucky) to have been in the right place at the right time.

  • Nate | January 12, 2018 at 11:40 am |

    I’m nearly positive someone on the PGA Tour wore a Red Sox hat once. Maybe it was a Patriots hat, though. Google is failing me right now, however.

  • Logan Light | January 12, 2018 at 12:07 pm |

    Question for Rick:

    When it comes to new uniform designs, particularly these new one off NBA jerseys, I’ve always been curious how much input the team actually has. Are there conference calls or meetings to talk about aesthetics or does a company, say Nike, have complete control over alternate designs? Teams like the Celtics and Lakers – who typically have a traditional uniform set / branding – rolled out the gray parquet and black mamba jerseys

    Do teams have any say in these one off jersey trends?

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 1:55 pm |

      @Logan we’ll be exploring that subject at length. Stay tuned.

  • PT | January 12, 2018 at 12:07 pm |

    The Georgia Tech retweet deal would be just for warmups, as stated in the tweet, not the game.

  • Wade Heidt | January 12, 2018 at 12:31 pm |

    Enough time has passed. We are due for Nike to give us another redesign for the Denver Broncos. Maybe they could have it look a little something like this?

    http://history.denverbroncos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/1996_davis.jpg

    • Paul Lukas | January 12, 2018 at 12:37 pm |

      Radical idea: Maybe the team will decide when it’s time for a redesign, not Nike.

      • RS Rogers | January 12, 2018 at 12:58 pm |

        “Maybe” admits the possibility – which we know from reporting here by Paul to be true – that the uniform supplier might take the lead in presenting options or a proposal to the team. Another possibly good subject for Rick! To what extent does Nike’s design team wait passively for client work to fall into their laps, and to what extent does Nike seek to initiate work by making approaches to existing or potential clients?

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 2:01 pm |

      @Wade the redesign project was initiated by Pat Bowel. He and Phil Knight were buddies. Until that time, the NFL was in charge of all team branding and identities. Mr. Bowlen went against the rules and did things the way he wanted.

      As far as I know, the league still is in charge of updates to team identities. I would find it hard to believe the Broncos would want to update their identity. They’ve won 3 Super Bowls in the look. Why would they go away from that?

  • 420Phil | January 12, 2018 at 12:58 pm |
    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 1:56 pm |

      @420Phil WeedHorn merged with the American Cannabinoid Clinics last September. It became the media side of the doctor’s operation.

  • Scott | January 12, 2018 at 3:03 pm |

    I’m looking forward to reading more from Rick. I also grew up in Denver, started designing shirts and team logos in high school without making any money… but I got a degree in engineering instead. I still like graphic design and would love to hear more of his stories.

    • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 4:25 pm |

      It’s one of those things you do because you love it. Really, design is about telling stories through graphics. You just really need to know the story of the company as well as they do, then translate their story to a graphic language.

      If you want to be good at design, that’s it. I see so many designers who don’t take the time in the beginning to understand the heart and soul of the company. They just start making cool stuff.

      Whether you’re an engineer or anything else design related, I hope you love what you are doing.

  • Perry | January 12, 2018 at 4:02 pm |

    Afraid I’m not getting the reference on the Indians uni-number instagram, although it seems to be a big hit in the comments. What’s the play on uni numbers for “Chisenhall 8”? It went right over my head whatever it is.

    • Winter | January 12, 2018 at 4:40 pm |

      It’s a slideshow. Click through and the numbers are 867-5309. Like the song, ya know.

  • Daniel Tarrant | January 12, 2018 at 4:42 pm |

    One point I like to make here from time to time, (and one that Paul always will disagree with) is that sometimes time itself is enough to make a “crappy” design into a “clasic” one.

    The Broncos uniforms are a good example. I hated the new design when it came out in the early 90’s. But they’ve stuck with it, and it’s grown on me. It’s unique and easily identifiable.

    Same goes with the Carolina Panthers. Lots of people hated their look when it was introduced. Two decades later, a lot of people seem to consider it among the league’s best.

    Jerry Richardson vowed to never change the uniforms as long as he owned the team. Now that he’s selling the team, I worry…

    • Paul Lukas | January 12, 2018 at 4:47 pm |

      It’s absolutely true that all sorts of art and design, including a uniform design, can age well (or poorly).

      I don’t think that’s quite the same as saying that “sometimes time itself is enough to make a ‘crappy’ design into a ‘classic’ one,” however. I thin, a better way of phrasing is that that some things become familiar over time, and familiarity often (but not always) brings its own comforts.

      • Daniel Tarrant | January 12, 2018 at 4:59 pm |

        That is true.

        But would you not agree that art in general sometimes “grows on you”, be it uniform design, music, film, etc.?

        And also people change over time, the things you might find appealing as a youngster might not appeal to you as an adult, and vice-versa?

        • Rick Bakas | January 12, 2018 at 6:35 pm |

          We call it Brand Equity. It has to start out being a solid outward sign of an inward belief. Over time, that outward sign either maps up to the story or it doesn’t.

          With the Broncos logo, Pat Bowlen asked for a ‘horse that looked like it was going to kick your ass’. But the story went deeper. The horse is white because it’s a ghost horse inspired by a native american legend of a ghost horse of the plains that was so spirited, it couldn’t be tamed by man. The eyes are the windows to its soul aka its fiery belly.

          Mr. Bowlen and the players at the time all felt really good (after 4 various design rounds) that we had developed a timeless mark that looked like it was going to kick your ass while representing the story.

          The uniforms are the same as an AIR sole. NIKE like to highlight technological advancements. The AIR sole is technology you can see, and often becomes the focal point of a shoe design. The ‘bat wing’ or orange side stripes were a huge technological step forward, so we highlighted them with orange.

          Before this uniform, players could grab onto loose jersey fabric that would hang in various parts of the body. O-linemen could grab loose fabric under the armpit and hold D-linemen. The old jerseys had a horizontal stitch line that went across the chest about nipple high. The ‘Bat wing’ uniform was designed to be lighter, but also fit snug all the way around the body. There was (and is) no loose fabric hanging anywhere. Players like Steve Atwater mentioned the uniform felt lighter and gave a better range of movement. Back then, we didn’t do enough PR to really emphasize how progressive those uniforms were. Now, it’s a standard at any level of football to have a uniform that doesn’t sag or hang anywhere.

      • John | January 12, 2018 at 7:53 pm |

        Reminds me of the Mark Twain qoute about politicians, old buildings and prostitutes becoming respectable with age ;)

  • Steve Prudente | January 12, 2018 at 4:44 pm |

    The Eagles announced their uniform in advance of their game against the Falcons, and this page also posted their record in each of their jersey/pants combos this year:
    https://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2018/1/12/16885454/eagles-announce-jersey-selection-playoff-game-falcons-philadelphia-nfl-schedule-2018-uniform-green

  • Mike Engle | January 12, 2018 at 5:00 pm |

    Yes the pencil pictures are cool, but I love learning names of things you wouldn’t even think have their own names! (In this case, ferrules.)
    As for me, jeez, I don’t think I have a favorite pencil, though as a musician and knowing me, I’m surprised I don’t…I guess I just go with Bic mechanicals at 0.7mm lead because they’re cheap and easy to find, but I hardly ever use pencils anymore. For pens, my weapon of choice is the Bic Atlantis.

  • BvK1126 | January 12, 2018 at 5:41 pm |

    Great intro, Rick! I’m really looking forward to your involvement here at Uni Watch.

    Topics I’d love to see you cover in future missives:

    1) The Denver Broncos redesign in 1997. As you can already see from today’s other comments, there’s a significant contingent of the Uni-verse that hates the Broncos’ redesign and blames it for lots of bad design that came after it. As a life-long Broncos fan who still has a fondness for the pre-1997 uniforms, I nonetheless have an appreciation for the redesign. In particular, I’ve always contended that, while it probably fits into the category of “modern” uniforms, the redesign actually adheres to classic, traditional design principles more closely than the critics give it credit for.

    2) Ads on sports uniforms viewed from a designer’s perspective (not just “uni ads are bad,” but the design challenges they present).

    3) Soccer teams’ brand identity in the U.S., especially in connection to American teams starting to take their cues from European clubs rather than this country’s own soccer history for team names and logos.

    4) Pro sports teams that could use a redesign, in your opinion.

    • Rick Bakas | January 13, 2018 at 5:59 pm |

      Thanks for the suggestions. You hit the nail on the head with 3 out of the 4 ideas—those were literally the next three topics I was going to suggest to Paul.

  • kdf | January 12, 2018 at 8:25 pm |

    Alright. Maybe I’m dumb, but I don’t get the gag in the Indians number reference in the ticker. Someone wanna dumb-splain it for me?

    • Paul Lukas | January 12, 2018 at 8:47 pm |

      It’s a slideshow. Click thru it.

      • kdf | January 12, 2018 at 9:47 pm |

        Ah, yes. Got it now. Thanks, Paul!

  • Scott | January 12, 2018 at 9:09 pm |

    As a teacher, and an amateur pencil lover, love the all black Ticonderoga. Classy, and stands up to abuse!

  • Mike Abegg | January 13, 2018 at 12:54 am |

    Can’t believe nobody else commented that Ensminger’s LSU tie appears to have been cut from a spare pair of Zubazes. Zubaz’? Zubazz? Zubazs? Whatever.

  • Billy Len24 | January 13, 2018 at 7:28 am |

    Looking forward to Rick. The Nike story in school brings me back to the first Nike Bruin that I saw. Like him, I was all I. From that day on………