The New Orleans Hornets will become the New Orleans Pelicans next season and get a new logo and uniform. The logo was officially released on Thursday (via SI.com), and I must say that it's borderline perfect.
When it comes to any team's logo, regardless of sport, it needs four components to be great: unique lettering, solid colors, plenty of swagger and, of course, a great overall look. The Pelicans' new seal grades out well in each department, giving the young team a brand new identity and attitude for the future. According to Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune, this is exactly what team owner Tom Benson wanted when he purchased the team last spring:
This isn’t something that was just done overnight. This is a long process. We are not just changing the name to change the name. The Hornets name came from Charlotte. That fits in with Charlotte. It doesn’t fit into New Orleans, La., or our area here. The Hornets don’t mean anything here. We needed something that symbolizes New Orleans and Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. And nothing does that better than this name.
However, that does not mean that the logo is flawless. It works as a whole, but still has some room for improvement.
I'm not saying a complete overhaul is needed, but a tweak or two definitely could help.
Like the uniform that goes with it, a logo should have some panache. The new Pelicans logo has plenty of it, especially in the lettering.
Look at it this way. When I think New Orleans, I think Mardi Gras. That means plenty of places on Bourbon Street and in the French Quarter flashing bright lights, and signs with some classy letters.
This logo puts the class in classy the way "New Orleans" is written. The characters themselves bring back memories of an old-time movie and pack plenty of punch.
Granted, "Pelicans" is written in a small font, but that's not the point. This team is supposed to represent what New Orleans is all about, and that means giving the city itself most of the attention as opposed to the mascot. I understand that Louisiana is the "Pelican State," but there is no team without a city of fans supporting it.
As a whole, the logo's lettering is excellent, and I cannot wait to see what the team does in terms of new jerseys.
As I mentioned before, New Orleans is all about Mardi Gras and having a good time. Thus, subbing out the gold, white and teal in favor of red, navy blue and gold was the best decision team management could have made apart from the name change itself.
Don't get me wrong. I love the teal look, but that belongs to the Hornets tradition that originated back in Charlotte. It may have worked 20 years ago, but that's not the case now. The Pelicans need their own look and identity, and the colors Benson chose give them just that.
Also, last I checked, the players have fun playing basketball. Having their duds be fun and new school as opposed to drab and boring works for a team as young as New Orleans is, and the fans should quickly embrace it too.
Secondary Logos: B
What's great about the Pelicans is that the official logo is not the only one. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweeted three of the team's secondary logos, adding a dash of variety to the pot.
The first one, the "bird-de-lis," is essentially the pelican aspect of the main logo compressed into the fleur-de-lis shape without the lettering. Those unfamiliar with the NBA may not understand the seal at first glance, but it will definitely turn some heads because it looks amazing.
However, the other two secondary logos do not pack the same punch. One just says "NOLA Pelicans," and has a fleur-de-lis on it. The identity is there, but it just doesn't have the same oomph as the bird-de-lis.
The other option is not much to look at either. It's a circular seal around a basketball, garnished with fleur-de-lis, and just says "Crescent City Basketball." I understand that New Orleans is the Crescent City, but this just looks like a rejected ABA logo.
However, I'm not going to completely downgrade the Pelicans for having unappealing secondary logos. The main one works great, and the use of the bird-de-lis is both creative and fun. The others are not much to look at, but they still do not take away from the new look and identity of the team.
Any professional sports team's logo needs to have swagger, from the New York Yankees' interlocking NY to the classic angry bull in Chicago. The New Orleans Pelicans' logo may be new, but trust me, in the swagger department it's about to blow the roof off of New Orleans Arena.
We already talked about the lettering and color, but look at the shape of the logo itself. The fleur-de-lis on top is a great starting point, but then the logo trickles down into this badass form that looks like something a pilot would wear. In all honesty, after taking a long hard look at it, I want to go and watch Top Gun maybe three times in a row. (You're my eyes, Pelican!)
Even better is the use of the pelican itself, from the angry eyes to the fact that it's clearly carrying a basketball. The only real problem with this part of the logo is that it's kind of cheesy that the top part of the bird's bill is shaped kind of like a spear. I understand that there should be some sort of intimidation factor, but this was a step too far.
Still, the logo's swaggability is excellent. I'd be proud to wear it as a player, a fan, or just in general. Once some merchandise becomes available for purchase, fans should jump at the opportunity to rock this logo whether they're Pelicans fans or not.
Overall Look and Final Grade: A
There's no other way to say it: I love this logo. It captures the new team identity and essence of the city perfectly, from the lettering all the way down to subtle design ideas.
Using the fleur-de-lis was a great salute to the French and Cajun culture throughout both New Orleans and the state of Louisiana, and incorporating the literal flight of the pelican with the wing design was an even better choice. The colors bring out the fun of the city, and they should look great all throughout next season.
Granted, it does have that one flaw with the bird's beak, but that's just my personal preference. One nitpicky comment cannot take away from the fact that this logo is badass.
Thus, out with the old and in with the new. The New Orleans Pelicans have arrived and based on the new logo, I'm hoping that they stay around for a long time.