Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Tale of Two Cities—Rams Logo Change is Worst PR Disaster Since 49ers Logo Change in 1991

By John Turney
Part of covering esoteric NFL subjects in the aesthetics of logos and uniforms and facemasks and shoes and various sundries.

This week the Rams changed colors and logos. As we've outlined the colors were met positively but the primary logo was met with incredible resistance.
Rams primary logo
The secondary logo (the Ram head) has been received okay but hilariously Rams fans with computer and designing skills have been blowing away the Nike "world-class" designers that supposedly came up with what is being called the "Ram skull" with lifeless eyes.
Left is the official "skull" and the right is a fan iteration, one of many that can be found (see below)
After raising $2 million for charity Rams COO Kevin Demoff plans to read the Top 10 Mean Tweets about the new logos in the near future—which is fine. He likely won't read the Top 10 Positive Tweets because there likely are not that many.

What he should read are the constructive criticism-filled Tweets or the ones from fans who are just plain disappointed. After 2½ years of build-up and many trolling Tweets from Demoff there was great anticipation and by any objective standard, the Rams and Nike failed to deliver.

The Los Angeles media has barely touched the gravity of the situation (the New York Times, at the time of this post, has more coverage of this story than the Los Angeles Times), unlike the 1991 situation in San Francisco when the 49ers released this logo and we going to put it on the helmets.
1991 failed 49ers logo
Pre-Internet, fans called in, wrote letters, called radio shows and voiced their displeasure. The Bay Are media ran polls and cover the situation very well, not taking sides, but giving their readers a fair reading of the situation, unlike what we've so far seen from the Southland media. And the 49ers brain trust listened and reverted to the old logo.
That won't happen here. The Rams are dug in. The process is finished. Though the uniforms are yet to be unveiled they are set, done. The helmet will have the broken Rams horn on it—count on it. And Rams fans have already expressed how much they'd dislike that. 
However, the Rams fans will have to just get on board, unlike the 49ers fans. For one, the NFL has rules in place about changed and the NFL Creative people have signed off. 

So, sorry Rams fans. It's done. The petition at is D.O.A. No amount of e-mails, Tweets, phone calls can make a difference here. It should be noted that the rams fans ought to be commended for mustering enough energy to complain in the middle of a serious life-or-death national crisis where hope in anything is a good thing. If these were normal times the outrage would be far greater than it is now you can bet on that.

Your legitimate complaints will be characterized by Rams brass as coming from malcontents—you will be painted as the same as those who sent in "Mean" Tweets. It's simply a way to shut off the conversation, to marginalize real beefs and conflate them with over-the-top verbiage. It's a political trick that corporations use to "change the conversation".

Uniform/logo complaints will be mocked, the "what does it really matter" tact will come it, "it's all about winning and we've brought a winner to LA". Yes, McVay and Snead and Demoff have done that. But's it's a straw man. A pro sports team can win and please the fans with a good logo and uniform AND win. In fact, winning is hard. Uniform and logo design is easy by comparison.

And you can do both just as one can walk and chew gum at the same time (to throw a non-sequitur back at those kinds of silly retorts).

So, even with Eric Dickerson's criticisms of the logo or anyone else's, this is over. But make no mistake this is the biggest logo PR disaster since the 1991 49er logo change. What Demoff never fully understood with his trolls and when he got questions on chat boards over the years ("can't do a chat without a uniform question" smugness) is that Rams fans LOVE their helmets. They LOVE their uniforms. Many became Rams as young boys and girls solely because of the uniforms. It wasn't the city or the name. It was "the HORN". 

Sorry. There won't be a "New Coke and Coke Classic" moment here. 
On the bright side, the Rams may be the first team in history when the illegal, bootleg merchandise outsells the official swag because this fan-based design knock-off stuff is already being marketed (purportedly anyway)—


  1. ahhhhh…."logo disaster changes" is several topics rolled into the top of my head:
    1. the Giants shift from the 1950s era Giant raised over Yankee Stadium to the absurdly boring "NY"
    2. (my personal favorite outrage ): the wonderful late 60s early 70s Baltimore Colt (with the helmet on the horse's head) leaping over the goalposts > a lame
    3. the 50's Steeler hardhat on the steel beam kicking the football to the Steel Union logo
    4. Cleveland's classic "Brownie" to an orange helmet?
    5. San Fran's "rootin' tootin' 49er guns ablazing to the passive lettered "SF" criminy (or better characterized: a crime)
    6. is there a theme here? Dallas's 1960 Cowboy > a star
    what's wrong with these people? Those old-school logos were so much more colorful and evocative.....John? Coach TJ? Chris?

  2. From a logo standpoint!!!!from 1st to worst!!!!!guess I'll be spending my hard earned $ at the swap meet or anywhere I can get a old school knockoff!!! How hard could it be to figure out,all yy had to do is look around the coliseum and see what the fans wanted,,heel me personally wanted the blue and yellow but I would have been ok with blue and white over this terrible terrible logo, all you had to do is use a logo from the 50 60 70 and 80s and do the blue and gold !!! So damn easy!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Just seeing this. I appreciate the work you do. But I am not sure this ranks with the 1991 Niners.

    I've been a Rams fans since 1986 when I was in first grade. I looked back at the league logos that year (thanks Chris Creamer). Most are different but still easily recognizable. The only outliers are the Broncos, Patriots, Buccaneers and Titans.

    So I looked in some archives. The reaction the the Broncos and Patriots new marks seemed very similar to those of the Rams.

    About 1,000 Broncos fans emailed the Rocky Mountain News within the first few hours of the team unveiling its new logos and uniforms in 1997. Nearly 85 percent of them disapproved of the new look, according to the paper.

    In 1993, more than 70 percent of 7,300 Patriots fans disapproved of the new Patriots logo (derided as Flying Elvis) in a Boston Globe poll.

    The Titans change was popular, but it was a more complete overhaul (nickname too) and helped make the franchise feel like it belonged to Tennesee by cutting the big link to Houston.

    From what I found, the Bucs rebrand was met with mixed reviews. Plenty of people wanted a new start because Bucco Bruce was associated with losing and wasn't seen as modern, the direction a lot of other 1990s uniform/logos went.

    The Rams LA logo is hated. The ram head seems to be the favorite of the new batch (low bar?). Lots of people love the colors. But the uniform remains to be seen. At this point, the Rams rebrand is incomplete.

    I think it would rival the 49ers ill-fated 1991 shift if the Rams put the LA logo on the helmet. But they could ultimately get a win by keeping the classic logo shape and adding new colors and minor style changes to the 70s-80s look.