Logos & Branding: Pro E-Sports vs. Traditional Sports
Professional E-Sports have really come into their own in the past decade. In terms of revenue and fanbase, certain games are on par with or even surpass traditional pro sports like soccer or football.
Players aren't making chump change either. While it was impossible to make a living only playing video games in the past, some superstars are making millions on a pro team, not to mention popular streamers and YouTubers regularly raking in more money and viewers than cable TV.
Considering professional gaming is an industry clearly doing well for itself, to me it raises the question:
When will E-Sports branding catch up?
My goal is not to rag on the gaming industry with this post. It's an industry close to my heart, second only really to design itself or health and fitness.
Traditional pro sports have been around for centuries - they've had plenty of time to figure out what they're all about. They have a rich history and traditions that new athletes join in.
Pro gaming doesn't quite have that. In addition to only really getting off the ground in the past decade, the games that are played change constantly. 2002 was all about Starcraft: Brood Wars, 10 years later Brood Wars is no longer really played on a pro level, and League of Legends has taken the top spot.
The companies making these games tend to be as professional as the next corporate giant in terms of branding, PR, etc.
But let's compare some of the above examples to the logos and branding of professional e-sports teams(I've already written a post about one that bugs me more than most):
In reality, the vast majority of pro teams typically aren't rolling in money, even if the industry as a whole is. Not to mention newer and smaller teams often consist of and are managed by young people with no previous experience in such an endeavor.
So it's just not been anyone's #1 priority to get E-Sports design game on par with it's .... game game. Getting the world of gaming out of the dark, then fighting to remove the stigma around those who are into it has been a lot of work (that's been paying off quite well the past ten years or so.)
Traditional Sport Logos
Here, I'd like to show off some examples of the design choices of traditional sports, then talk about how they fit together.
A Coherent Picture
If you take a look at all of these collages, each of the logos typically "fit" with the others. For example, the MLS and Premier League Soccer logos often depict shields, crests, and banners. While I'm not even a casual fan of soccer (and thus have little knowledge of the teams), if I had to guess this is a reference to how far back soccer goes and how wide spread it is. At least to me, it invokes thoughts of tradition and a long history, sort of similar to what family crests represent. Intentional? Hopefully, because it works well.
Regardless of WHY many of them use these elements, the fact that they do makes for a coherent image no matter what soccer match you're watching. You don't need to know who a particular team is to look at their crest & banner theme and know they're a soccer team.
Similarly, almost all NFL logos share:
Animal or warrior imagery
1 or 2 thick outlines (one typically black or white)
Movement Lines - diagonal or smooth curved lines suggesting speed or movement
Notice any similarities between all of the MLB logos?
Here's a cool article I found while researching that uses this principle to transform NFL logos to soccer logos.
Thoughts for Esports Teams
Based on the above, I think Esports could stand to use their own set of general design rules to create a more professional and coherent picture. Exactly what those rules could be will be for another blog post. This one addresses the problem - the next will be to fix it!