Editor’s Note: This is the final article of a three-part series, as we explore more about the Trail Blazers logo with the Blazers Brand Team including, Director of Brand and Retail Marketing Todd Adams, Vice President of Brand Strategy Ryan Flaherty, and Trail Blazers Art Director Mario Milosevic.
This is a piece of history we can get behind.
Over the years, Portland Trail Blazers players fans have worn the Trail Blazers’ pinwheel logo with pride whether the logo was red and black or red and white, slanted, or straight up and down.
But, have you ever wondered why the Trail Blazers logo looks the way it does?
The logo actually runs in the family… to a certain extent.
Harry Glickman, one of the founders of the Portland Trail Blazers, who was also the team's president from 1987 to 1994, looked to his cousin, Frank, for help in creating the Trail Blazers timeless pinwheel logo.
The graphic interpretation represents two five-on-five basketball teams coming together at center court to square off against each other.
It's a symbol of the Portland Trail Blazers and their opponent.
That’s something no other NBA team can say.
Portland Trail Blazers current Art Director Mario Milosevic, who has been with the Blazers since 2005, was the one to revamp the latest Blazers logo in 2017. He knows how important the logo is to the overall look and feel of the team and is always mindful of that in any redesigns.
The original logo is so iconic that it is really hard to change it, like some other teams who have updated their logos and they would have a drastic change. For us, when we did the last re-brand, we had focus groups where we wanted to learn more about what our fans thought of the logos, about the current logo. And, we learned that nobody wanted us to change the logo. So, that’s what we did. We basically didn’t change it much. We just updated, made it a little more modern and it still has that original shape that everybody is familiar with. -- Trail Blazers Art Director Mario Milosevic
The Trail Blazers have had six different logos over their 50-year history, but the main concept of the pinwheel hasn’t changed over years.
The original logo designed by Frank Glickman was the cornerstone of the franchise from 1970 to 1990.
In 1990, the Trail Blazers went with a more dominant and clean look by placing “Blazers” to the right of the pinwheel in large, bold letters.
Plus, to honor the tradition of the 1990’s design, the Blazers reversed the color scheme of the logo to feature the red on top.
The team kept this logo until 2002. Between 2002 and 2004, the Trail Blazers changed their logo two different times.
But now, in the most recent redesign, the revamped logo, which was revealed in May of 2017, returned to the franchise's primary color scheme of white, black and red.
Each of the lines follow the same path to the center of the pinwheel, but are now connected for an added symbol of teamwork.
How did the connected lines that have now been established to represent teamwork come about?
That goes back to the focus groups.
The Trail Blazers did a study with about 50 photos and nearly thirty to forty people were asked to pick the one photo “that they felt represented the Trail Blazers to them.”
On the table laid pictures of:
- Bill Walton
- The Pinwheel logos
- Team huddles
- Brandon Roy
- Damian Lillard
And that's just to name a few of the photos.
Ryan Flaherty, Vice President of Brand Strategy for the Trail Blazers, explained how the process of his particular focus group ultimately helped decide the teamwork rebrand of the pinwheel.
“Like 99 percent of the people specifically all picked the same exact photo out of all those photos -- they picked the same one, which was a team huddle shot that you couldn’t even tell any of the players on the team.” Flaherty said. “So, when we asked them why, obviously -- it was all about this city and this region and our fans really look at teamwork and team play as being the most important and never individual performance or individual heroes. They really think it makes a team to be successful.”
An elderly woman participating in the focus groups even used some colorful language when she initially thought the Blazers were changing the pinwheel logo.
“She wanted to make it clear that we should not change it,” Flaherty said with a smile.
What the Trail Blazers organization has truly learned over the years is that fans are never looking for the Blazers to shy away from the original pinwheel look.
“We are careful when we tweak that logo, that we keep it in the same family. We have a good family of those pinwheels… Just modernize it to keep it current,” Trail Blazers Director of Brand and Retail Marketing Todd Adams added.
The pinwheel is a unique NBA logo.
Portland is a unique NBA city.
It’s a perfect match.
I think our logo is so unique compared to every other sports teams’ logo that typically features a mascot or an animal or some type of representation of the city, ours was a little bit part psychedelic 70s, artistic interpretation of the… five-on-five of two teams coming together at center court for competition. -- Trail Blazers Vice President of Brand Strategy Ryan Flaherty
Another interesting note about the most recent redesign is that the angles of the lines on the pinwheel are exactly 45 degrees. According to the team's website, this shift in design is to represent "the 45th Parallel North that leads on a path to the Northwest region."
And you thought the pinwheel just looked cool, didn’t you?
To learn more about your hometown team's look and design, check out the video at the top of the article.