Review: Miami Marlins redesign

The Miami Marlins baseball team recently spent a lot of money on a rebranding effort. The result is a pretty good first draft, but nowhere near ready for prime time.

Other sites have done a critique of the result, so I’m going to go in another direction; I’m going to see if I can fix some of the problems. As noted at the Under Consideration site linked above, the old logo seriously needed updating, and there are some things here that work; the colors, for instance, are evocative of the Miami image.

Here’s the before-and-after, shamelessly stolen from the aforementioned site:

There are basically three separate issues to discuss in this re-brand: color, typography and the icon. We’ll start with the icon.

Here’s the icon, isolated from the M mark:

The first problem; what is it? If you know the team name is “Marlins” you can tell it’s supposed to be one. If you’re looking at the mark devoid of context, it might be a rocket or a kite or an airplane or an abstract swooshy thing (which is perfectly okay; how many people know that Nike’s swoosh is supposed to be a representation of the Greek goddess of victory?) But if we want people to understand that it’s a marlin, it needs one more thing: a tail.

Now the icon can stand on its own, detached from the type, which it really needs to do. The arbitrary placement against the M in one application and the I in another is clunky and pointless.

If there’s one thing that defines the Miami aesthetic, it’s Art Deco. The designers have made an attempt here, but they picked the wrong flavor of Art Deco; they went for more of a Bauhaus style, more evocative of the European Constructivist movement than the flashy, splashy Art Deco exemplified by the likes of Erté or the streamlined stylings of Loewy. A change of typeface is clearly in order here.

The ultimate purveyor of stylish retro fonts is Nick’s Fonts, so let’s take a look there first. There are 562 fonts in Nick’s collection, covering a range of periods and styles, so we’ll just refine the search, and we narrow it to 160 faces. Renard Moderne has possibilities; so does Jazzfest. Perhaps Duesenberg is a little too much. As it turns out, none of Nick’s fonts are what I’m looking for, so we’ll do a search for Art Deco in all the different foundries at MyFonts.

My choice, ultimately, is something from the Kabel family. It’s got the same weight and basic forms as the face the designer chose, but it’s more “Miami” to me.

There’s really not much too wrong about the color choices here; certainly the rationale given in the description is valid: blue for the sea, yellow for the sunshine, orange for the citrus industry. I’m not sure that these are the right versions of those colors. The orange is good, but I think the yellow and blue could be adjusted some. And honestly, when thinking of Miami, the colors that come to mind are coral-pink and teal. That’s probably too ’80s, and definitely too fey for a sports franchise, so we’ll stick to the concept here, but we’ll make the yellow a little brighter and more sunshiny, and the blue a little bit green and seawatery.

Most problematic really is the grey; why is it there?  I’d say lose it. Here’s what I’d do with it:

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Typography (Part 2)
Moving on from the basic mark and icon, we have to deal with the type treatment as found on the uniforms. Here’s what they did:

And here’s how I’d fix it:

That’s a start anyway. Of course, there’s no real empirical “I’m right, you’re wrong” claim here; I just think that the designers who were paid a lot more than I charge missed the mark with their design, and I’ve nudged it a little further down the right path. Or what I think is the right path, anyway, based on what they said they were going for.

Total time spent on redesigning this stuff: 2 hours and 25 minutes.

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1 Response to Review: Miami Marlins redesign

  1. Orlando says:

    I just happened to run in to your post while I was searching for some pictures of the new Marlins logo. I have a Marlins fan blog and I would like to see if you could make a header for the blog. It would have to be transparent and I’d like it to incorporate some elements of the logo. The name of the blog is “The Win Column” and can be found at I’d appreciate your response. Thanks!

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