A Fresh Start for the Leafs?

Not surprisingly, there’s plenty of online chatter this morning about the new/old Toronto Maple Leafs logo redesign.

Sports franchises don’t take logo redesigns lightly. The team’s logo is a highly visible piece of the bigger brand puzzle. A redesign is a strategic business decision. Logos are often reflections of their time, and they may no longer reflect a team’s position or attitude, or even current culture and design styles. The logo may also have been tainted by a team’s lack of success. It’s an opportunity for a team to make a statement about their shift in attitude or aspirations.

The challenge with logo updates is that the fans also don’t take them lightly. Change can be difficult at the best of times, but changes to sports brands can result in unprecedented resistance. Sports brands have the most passionate and vociferous customers, and they don’t appreciate anyone messing with their team – not even the team themselves.

The recent Toronto Raptors logo redesign prompted plenty of social media commentary from passionate fans. But a sports team is more than the logo, and the drive and tenacity of the Raptors’ current roster and their success on the court over the past few seasons has put the logo controversy in perspective.

The Leafs logo is iconic, but the truth is that the team has had a number of iterations of the leaf icon over the years. It appears that MLSE’s rationale behind the most recent update is that it symbolizes a fresh start for the team, but also harkens back to the gritty workmanlike tradition of the team throughout the 1940s-1960s.

Ultimately the new logo will come to symbolize whatever product the players put on the ice. If the on-ice Leafs can match the drive and tenacity – and success – of the current Raptors squad, then the logo will be imbued with that success.

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