Pretty Snazzy, Yo!: An In-Depth Look at the New Uniforms of Your Miami MarlinsBy
If you can ignore Jeffrey Loria’s unintentional patronization of the Latin community and the never-ending Pitbull concert that held your ears hostage, Friday night’s official unveiling was a surprisingly refreshing beginning to a new era of Marlins baseball. But, now that it’s all out in the open and the uncertainty of each new dreaded leak is behind us, we can get down to the business of figuring out what it is we just witnessed and whether or not we’re comfortable with it.
There’s obviously no shortage of opinions on the internet, but most of those are focused on one of two things: “I love it!” or “I hate it!” Hopefully, I can give you something a little more substantial. You see, aside from being an amateur blogger here at Marlins Daily, I also lead another life, one that takes up the majority of my time, pays the bills and keeps my internet connection turned on. I’m a professional graphic artist. And rather than bore you with an oversimplified opinion, I thought I’d take you deep inside the mind of a designer and hopefully give you a more detailed look at the rebranding of the Miami Marlins.
So, pull up a chair, fire up that bootleg copy of Photoshop (I won’t tell anyone you have it. Promise.) and follow along, after the jump, as we take an in-depth look at the new Marlins logo and uniforms and maybe answer a few of those nagging questions you have about this design.
The centerpiece of this team’s entire rebranding initiative is obviously the new logo, which happens to be the part I hate the most. Which will make it even more strange when I tell you that I don’t necessarily dislike what the team has done. How does that even make any sense? More on that later.
For now, let’s look at the logo, pictured below.
When this logo leaked, the first thing I noticed was that it looked like someone had melted South Beach all over it. We’ve got five colors going on here (orange, blue, white, yellow and silver, not counting the black foundation), which is just absurd. The silver is more of an accent color than anything, though, so it brings us down to a slightly more reasonable, yet still pretty ridiculous, four colors.
The blue and the orange are crisp, clean colors that you’d have a hard time complaining about, and the white is, well, white. I don’t know that there’s anything else you can say about that. But, with all that out of the way, it leaves us staring, dumbfounded, at Crayola’s newest creation: Unnecessary Yellow.
I guess you could make a case for its inclusion if the yellow “V” somehow stood for something (Maybe to pay tribute to a guy named Vernon, or the Vatican, or anything, really.), but it doesn’t, so its presence is both pointless and distracting. Check out the two logos below.
You’ll notice that, without the yellow, the logo feels less like it’s trying to jump up and smack you in the face. You can also see that the lack of a fourth, random color does nothing to detract from the logo itself.
K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
That may be a concept used mostly to protect young, aspiring artists from their own bloated egos, but it’s a lesson that certainly has its place amongst professionals, as well.
Another thing about the new logo that’s particularly troublesome, is its lack of a clear focal point. The abstract marlin needs to either be smaller, nonexistent or worked into the logo seamlessly. Take a look at the new Marlins logo side by side with the old Brewers logo, as an reference.
Ignore the fact that the Brewers logo looks dated for a minute, because that’s not all that important here. What is important is that there’s a baseball, a glove, an “M” and a “B” all in one logo, and all of it seems to work together as one cohesive unit. Compare that with the Marlins logo, where the marlin and the “M” seem to fight one another for the attention of your eyes. Maybe if the marlin were brought down some and flowed through the middle of the “M”, this wouldn’t be a problem, but in the position it’s in now, the marlin shoots off of the top of the “M”, basically acting as an arrow, drawing your eyes away from the actual logo, which should be the focal point.
To me, the marlin feels forced, as if it weren’t there in the first place, but an executive insisted on adding a fish to an already completed logo. There’s a funny video on these here internets that does a great job of explaining what designers go through when working with corporations, and part of me wonders if something like that might have happened here.
The biggest fear amongst Marlins fans had to be the actual uniforms. I mean, if the team was willing to use the entire Crayola catalog on the hat, what crazy idea could they possibly have had in store for the shirts and pants? The answer, surprisingly, was nothing.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was terrified that the new Marlins jerseys would look a little like my Romero Britto luggage, but the designers showed great restraint and took things in a more traditional directon. The simple white and gray home and road jerseys, each adorned with minimal single-color piping, do wonders to tone down that firecracker of a wordmark.
Even their choices for alternate jerseys were perfect.
Uni Watch might not seem too keen on the black jersey, but I’m a big fan of black alternates in every sport. Especially when you consider that fans like to wear their team’s jersey in public, and a grown man in the mall looks slightly less childish when he’s wearing a black jersey, as opposed to a gray or white one. The only time the black jersey doesn’t work is when a team decides to inexplicably make the logo and the numbers black, as well. But, really, who would do that? Oh, right.
As for the Marlins orange alternate jersey? Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. The Hurricanes and Dolphins already do this and it’s, by far, the sweetest threads in either of their closets. The Marlins are no exception now. Maybe if this were an everyday thing, I’d feel differently, but to whip out the orange every once in a while? Yeah, that’s a decision that has my full support.
The only problem I can see with the orange alternates is that maybe they’re a little too flashy. Going, instead, with a muted orange, similar to the faded blue the Rays wear, would’ve given the Marlins another unique look, combining a modern logo with a more retro-looking color scheme. It is what it is, though, and there’s nothing at all wrong with the direction they ultimately chose.
Take a look at all four jerseys, side by side, and see what you think.
The space between certain letters has a name, and believe it or not, it isn’t called “the space between certain letters.” It’s called kerning and it’s one of the more underappreciated aspects of typography.
Take a look at the word “MIAMI”, written below.
All of these letters begin and end with completely vertical lines, and because of that, the space between each letter looks exactly the same. Unfortunately, very few fonts are this up-and-down, and letters like “A” and “V” generally become more difficult to work with, as they often begin and end with a diagonal line, making them appear as if there’s more space between them and the letters they precede or follow than there actually is. This is especially true in the case of the Marlins new uniform, since the Miami Vice-style “M” extends at an extreme angle that doesn’t play all that well with letters that stand up straight, like the “I” that follows.
That one isn’t terrible, but a more extreme example presents itself just a few letters later, as the “A”, which ends with a diagonal line, is followed by an “M”, which begins with a diagonal line. Holy awkward white space, Batman!
So, how do designers combat this problem? They cheat, obviously!
If you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll notice that the bottom of each letter touches. This typically isn’t supposed to happen; obviously, if you were to put two letters like an “I” and an “L” that close together, you’d never be able to tell where one ended and the other began. But, with letters like “M” and “A”, it’s necessary to cheat letters closer together in order to fill the aesthetically annoying space they’d create if left alone. Notice the parts I’ve circled.
Making this adjustment to one or two letters isn’t usually a problem, but in the case of the Marlins, every single letter in “MIAMI” has to be adjusted, and, even still, doesn’t do anything to solve the problem with the uneven amount of space between the tops of the “MIA”, the “AM” and the final “MI”, which ultimately turns the word into a mountain range of typography failure. And that’s not even taking into consideration the natural split of a team name on a button-down jersey, which only winds up making things worse.
The font chosen for the Marlins logo looks sharp and crisp as a standalone logo, as you can see on the hat. You can probably even make two or three letters work, if done correctly. But, once you begin stringing together enough letters to form actual words, that’s when you wind up running into problems, which is exactly what happened to the Marlins.
Admittedly, I’m something of a typography nerd, though, so this sort of thing probably bothers me a lot more than it’ll bother anyone else.
If there’s one thing you learn today, let it be the understanding that 1990′s-style drop shadows are a terrible idea that should never ever be used on anything. Especially baseball jerseys. I’ll just put a picture of the Marlins numbers here, so you can properly appreciate just how terrible an idea this is.
Even more frustrating and inexplicable is the fact that the batting practice uniforms apparently aren’t going to have the drop shadow. See for yourself, below.
One can only hope that this is something that, in the future, will make it’s way onto the game-day uniforms, as well.
The style of the new Marlins brand shows guts, I’ll give them that. In a sport that prides itself on tradition and old-timey ways, a new, modernized look is risky. After all, remember back in ’99, when MLB tried to Turn Ahead the Clock?
Not baseball’s finest moment.
But, these Marlins threads are less George Jetson than those silly duds. No, what the Marlins have done is successfully merged the old with the new. The white and gray jerseys have a certain simplistic, classy feel to them that does an excellent job of putting a hand over the mouth of a logo that’s trying it’s hardest to scream at the top of its lungs.
Again, though, baseball prefers its style to be simple and old fashioned. There are just too many examples of teams who’ve given up on being trendy or different in exchange for something a little more, well, Red Sox and Yankees. In took less than 14 years to turn the Rays from fashion daredevils of Major League Baseball to what they are today, an ever-so-slightly modernized version of something that could’ve easily been designed in 1950. And the Blue Jays? Well, they took so much heat for Robo-Robin that they took a time machine back to 1977.
While, I don’t necessarily love the Marlins new logo or some of the quirks in the uniform, my overall feeling is that I like what the Marlins have done. It isn’t easy rebranding, from top to bottom, an entire organization that hasn’t even distanced itself more than 35 minutes from its roots, but the Marlins are on the right track. A tweak here, a modified color there, and maybe, just maybe, this team can be the trendsetters that bring a new era of fashion to a sport that could probably use a little flashiness.
I’ll close with a short story. Back in 1992, my parents bought themselves a brand new car: a teal ’92 Pontiac Grand Prix. Teal was the new, big thing in cars at the time, and for a few years, it was one of the coolest things on the road. Everyone loved it. But, by the time I got my license in 1999, that trend had died hard, leaving me with a hand-me-down Grand Prix that wound up looking as out of place in a school parking lot as a World War II tank. I may as well have been driving a pink elephant.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, here’s to hoping that the 2015 Marlins aren’t my old ’92 Grand Prix.
You can find a complete list of the Miami Marlins colors, wordmarks, jerseys, letters and numbers at this nifty website.