Timberwolves Logo A RARE Success

There are a few things you expect from a new NBA logo these days. One, it will feature a basketball, because league rules say at least one team logo must do so. Another is it will be a roundel style logo, (or “Racing Tire” due to the common features of white lettering on a tire-like shape) which is a popular trend over the past handful of years to say the least. Finally, you expect it to be done by RARE Design (Hornets, Kings, Hawks, Pelicans) and if true, then it’s sure to be a well crafted and thoroughly thought out design.

The latest NBA team logo checks all 3 as the Minnesota Timberwolves rolled out their new primary logo, the first of a few designs to be released over the next 6 months. The new primary logo is a new take on the past secondary logo, starting on a foundation of a simpler, more modern idea than the tired “angry animal over angry wordmark” idea it replaces.

The new logo is accompanied by a very thorough brand guide taking readers behind the scenes of the process with 5 short videos featuring Rodney Richardson of RARE Design and some talking points on inspiration and meaning built into the new logo.

Negatives

The thing that bothers me most is the use of neon Aurora Green (name taken from brand guide). It’s such an intense color that even when applied to small shapes and surrounded by Midnight Blue (navy) it really screams for attention, even overpowering the white text. For that reason, I wish either the wolf’s eye or the star only were green. Because three pieces are green, there’s not really a focal point here and it doesn’t help that the star and eye are about the same size and close to each other, yet neither in the true center of the logo.

The released RGB version of the logo leaves me wanting to see a little more contrast in the blues and a darker gray, but the optimized version of the colors made by Colorwerx does exactly that. This version is a much better digital representation of PMS colors. The color palette is beautiful and the Northern Lights inspiration is clear. If I had to guess, I would say the green in the eye connects the wolf to the North star, which is built into the ball, so you have this visual connection between wolf, heavens/place, and sport but it just doesn’t quite satisfy me visually. Personal choice, I really just want to see one element be green.

Positives

Yes it’s another NBA roundel, but it’s an evolution of the previous secondary mark and dumps a lot of unnecessary details, including the cluttering pine trees. You already have a wolf, ball, star, and full team name, so I’m glad to see the trees sacrificed here; you never want too many ideas in one place. It’s also not quite as cliche’ of a roundel as we’re used to seeing. The wolf breaks the standard “racing tire” shape and blends the outer ring into the inner nicely. The wolf is rendered very well (save for the eye, it’s a bit cartoonish), and is leaps ahead of the old alternate because it actually has believable form and light years ahead of the primary it replaces which was laughably complex and poorly drawn. I don’t think they needed to turn the wolf to face to the right to make this point, but I will guess it was done as a “look to the future” characteristic.

Of the new font, the brand guide says “The Team Rune “A” is a representative piece of the history of the wolf and the state of Minnesota.”. Only doing a quick Google search to see if I could find the inspiration, I came up empty. I don’t know anything about the state’s history or Viking runes, but doing a visual comparison of what did come up and the Wolves new font, I can see some inspiration. The tall straight lines, mono-weight, and sharp angles of some rune examples can quickly be spotted in the new typography.

Conclusion

It’s great to see a sports team’s logo so carefully considered and crafted so well. Despite the small gripes I have about some details, this is another great piece of work from RARE. Just look at the thickness of the gray lines, the ball lines, the type weight– it’s all the same and there’s no tangents, the spacing and strokes, the tracking and kerning all really well done.

Comparing it to the old secondary logo, it’s just a great evolution. It’s obviously the familiar old mark but, drawn better and with a very different mood. It now truly feels like a wolf howling up at the northern lights in the middle of the night. If you miss the trees from the old logos, I would say stay tuned. I bet they make an appearance of some sort once everything is released.

If I were a T-Wolves fan, I’d proudly rock this logo on some new gear.