The New 2017 Detroit Pistons Logo is a Welcome Trip Down Memory Lane

The Detroit Pistons new logo critique by brand stategist and logo designer Richard Ensley

I don’t usually do logo reviews, but this time, I felt an obligation to express my feelings about a brand mark that hits close to home both emotionally and in a regional sense; The Detroit Pistons.

Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s watching the original bad boys, the Piston’s were Detroit heros — and their logo was their Superman emblem or bat signal. The team’s logo was powerful, simple and iconic.

The decades following the 1990 championship, the Pistons organization habitually reworked their logo. I am confident that I’m not the only Detroiter to say — it was painful. The team’s logo went from iconic, to bad…to awful.

So Tuesday, when the team unveiled their rebranded mark, I was pleasantly surprised to see the return of the classic 1980’s Piston’s logo. No more stupid flaming horse. No more more tailpipes. No more gradients, or generic corporate crap.

The slightly modified throwback logo coincides with the Detroit Pistons’ return to the heart of the city — as they leave The Palace of Auburn Hills, to make their new home alongside the Red Wings at the new Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit.

The 1979 Detroit Pistons logo compared to the new 2017 revamped logo
An infographic timeline of the Detroit Pistons rebranded logo history

The new Detroit Pistons logo was updated in a few ways, but is overall consistent with the logo we all knew and loved. Overall, I think it was a great move for The Pistons brand — and the rebooted logo looks pretty good. Here is my detailed review.

The refreshed detroit Pistons logo design is strong and simple. It has great colors and contrast. However, despite the meaning the Piston’s claim that the silver color represents, the silver stroke outlining the emblem weakens the overall design, creating a fuzzy halo effect and reducing it’s clarity.

While providing a much needed exodus from the busy, corporate Pistons marks of the last decade, the mark could still be simpler.

Pulling from several era’s of the brand’s history, this mark stays true to it’s origin and it’s classic presence. A good move.

An attempt to salvage the 2005 mark, ignoring the weakness
of it’s origin. Strong sans-serif preferred.

With it’s basic shapes, colors and thick lines,this mark carries many of the elements of classic logo design that lasts the test of time.

Great balance and strong symmetrymake this logo very easy to digest. Again, the typeface is the weak-link.


Richard Ensley is the founder of Detroit, Michigan-based Priest & King, a brand strategy consultancy focused on uniting brands, teams and customers through brand storytelling. Richard also runs Eyecon Design Company, a design firm specializing in brand identity systems and package design.

Contact Richard on LinkedIn