A re-brand of a previous professional sports franchise can be a difficult task.
For James M. Kuty, Founder of Kuty Kreative out of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, the task of re-branding the Michigan Panthers for the A11 Professional Football League, was more exciting than difficult.
“The Panthers helmet is one of the most iconic helmet designs in the 20th century,” said Kuty. “I remember as a kid I was absolutely fascinated with it, it was ground breaking. So I wanted to update the look of the logo, but still keep the tradition (the sleek lines and ferocity of the Panther, but clean things up). It was great this fall talking with my friends, tailgating in Ann Arbor for football games, picking their brains about the Panthers. Surprising to me, 30 years after the team is gone, they still love the brand.
“Pretty much what you see is what I presented. We twisted and tweaked the helmet logo a bit, but Steve (A11FL Co-Founder Steve Humphries) and the whole A11FL staff just fell in love with it. Steve and I had conversations about creating a secondary mark for merchandising, because the helmet logo does not work too well with merchandising. So we took the helmet logo and created an oval mark that will work on hats, tees, etc. Dane (Storrusten) and I worked together on creating the correct typography for the brand. It was a great group effort, getting feedback and positive support from Steve, Brandon (Williams) and Dane.”
Kuty said it was very important to keep the brand close to its original 1983-84 United States Football League look and close to the color scheme (royal plum, light blue, champagne silver and white), while, of course, giving it a modern update.
“James did a great job conceptualizing the Michigan Panthers modernization in terms of where the logo would go if the team was still in business and evolved over a 30-year period,” said Steve Humphries, A11FL Co-Founder/Vice President of Advanced Media. “It’s a contemporary design that represents a new era with sleek and more vibrant colors, while maintaining its iconic essence.”
As for the question of whether fans will reconnect with the team thanks to the way it was rebranded, Kuty said, “No question. I believe the fans are going to love it! I got my best friend Jeff involved as I was designing (he is an aficionado on football uniforms and football field deigns), and his feedback was very important. Living outside Detroit, he could help give me the pulse of how people still wear retro Panthers merchandise and how they carry the brand with such high esteem.”