Turning A New Leaf

By HAWK Associate Creative Director, Chris Farella

I’m not a Leafs fan – never have been, never will be. I’m a born and bred Habs fan, so let’s get that out of the way right now. I am however, a fan of strong brands and strong brand identities. And whether I like them or not, the Toronto Maple Leafs are keepers of both. So, I felt compelled to offer an opinion on their new logo. Here’s the truth: I like it. I like it a lot. And I think the reason I like it so much is because they chose to pay homage to their WINNING history, resisting the urge to change for the sake of change.

 

The new 31-point Leafs logo the organization unveiled Tuesday night (February 2nd) is actually a slightly tweaked throwback to the crest worn by Toronto teams in the 1940′s, 1950′s and 1960′s, a stretch during which they won 10 Stanley Cups.

Unfortunately, the 50 plus seasons that followed were not quite as prosperous. It doesn’t take 20 years of marketing experience to know that long stretches of futility have a way of severely damaging a brand, and its identity. Yet, I have many close friends who, through it all, STILL bleed blue and white. That, dear reader is BRAND LOVE. So, I hope they like the logo as much as I do, because loyalty like theirs needs to be rewarded. They deserve a logo that reinstills pride into all of Leafs Nation. Especially coming into their 100th anniversary (2016-2017) season. Which you know will swing the sporting spotlight directly on the center of the hockey universe. 

The good news is Toronto is starting to do things right again, folks. Ask any true Leafs fan, seeing Dave Keon standing at center ice a couple weeks ago, receiving a standing ovation after a bitter 40-year feud with the organization was huge. And it’s no coincidence that Mr. Shanahan is the man at the helm. Here’s a hockey guy who understands you can’t rebuild a home without fixing the foundation first. And that means having every single Leafs player and every single Leafs fan understand and respect the players who wore that logo before them. It should bother Leafs fans that kids today recognize Tim Horton more for his coffee and donuts than his all-star defensive skills. I know it would bother me. I’m sure it bothered Shanny.

Over the long-term, this new logo may turn out to be as important as the hiring of coach Mike Babcock. Now when a young star like Morgan Rielly is searching for that reason to dig deep or find that extra gear, he can look down at his chest and understand through simple iconography who and what he’s playing for. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Leafs Nation. 

That, in my books, is one powerful logo. 

Posted on February 5, 2016 .