Community contest: Make pelicans cool while building an NBA brand


Tattoos are permanent. So branding yourself with your favorite sports team’s logo might seem absurd. But sports connect people — communities, cities, entire countries come together to show their passion for their favorites. None of us at 99designs have tattoos of our favorite teams (a T-shirt or body paint will do), but we do LOVE basketball!

Recently, the New Orleans’ basketball team changed their name from the Hornets to the Pelicans. New Orleans, Louisiana is dear to some of us here at 99designs as we have a personal tie to the city. So mixing this with our interest in sports is enough to get excited about branding their team.

But… a pelican? How can you make a pelican fun, yet fierce? We knew YOU, our designer community, could “slam dunk” the challenge. It’s time to bring your A-game.

Enter 99designs’ community contest and help brand the New Orleans Pelicans!

FIRST, we need to research (as any expert designer should do) and learn more about New Orleans’ deep-rooted culture, as well as the overall branding of NBA logos.

Researching the spirit of New Orleans

New Orleans has a deep and cultured history — every street corner has a tale. But there are a few key points that all non-natives should know:

  • The people: It’s called the “Big Easy” for a reason. The citizens of New Orleans are laid back, and friendly characters. Everyone has a story, and you just might hear a stranger’s whole life while sitting at Café du Monde.
  • The food (and alcoholic beverages): Down by the Gulf, seafood is king. Known for crawfish, PoBoys, and Gumbo, you could easily put on a few pounds. Also, drive-through daiquirisHand Grenades, and Pat O’s famous Hurricanes are unforgettable drinks (warning: don’t exceed 2!).
  • Music and festivals: Whether it’s Jazz fest, a second line (parade) on Bourbon, or a swanky bar in the French Quarter, music is the soul of the city.
  • French culture: With French origins, the creole people have stamped the city with their style of architecture, Mardi Gras parades, and delicious recipes.

But don’t depend on our description for your design ideas, it’s YOUR turn to research the heck out of the ‘Big Easy’. Trust us… there’s a lot of culture to dig up!

Researching NBA teams’ branding as a whole

When looking at the NBA teams’ logos, you can see a strong continuity across all thirty teams’ logos. You’ll notice that more than half of the logo incorporate a basketball in some way.

But this doesn’t mean a basketball must be in your logo because teams like the Memphis Grizzles and Chicago Bulls are just as effective with no basketball in place.

Let’s look at a few of these more closely.

The most recent branding change in the NBA was the product of rapper Jay-Z’s investment in the Brooklyn Nets. The new logo has garnered universal praise and clearly represents Brooklyn’s style. It’s effective in its simplicity and vintage style reminiscent of older sports logos from the 30s and 40s.

The Chicago Bulls logo has a strong design combining a powerful red and black color scheme with the menacing face of a bull. The red tips on the horns, furrowed eyebrows and slight frown all contribute to the ferocity of the design. Of course, the Michael Jordan dynasty helped the legendary logo become a symbol of excellence.

The Golden State Warriors are an interesting case study for changing the branding of a team. You can see how the team went from the iconic San Francisco Bay Bridge, to a character design of a warrior, back to the Bay Bridge. From the Warriors to the Brooklyn Nets, NBA logos seem to be trending towards simplicity.

Think you’re ready for the challenge of creating the New Orleans Pelicans’ logo? Create something killer and us New Orleans’ folks just might consider it as our next tattoo… or T-shirt. 😉

Spread your wings and show us your best pelican — enter 99designs community challenge!