I live in Brooklyn, in a tree-lined residential neighborhood of Clinton Hill. And not too far from me, if I squint my eyes, I can see the glistening reflection of the glass construction around the new Barclays Center on Flatbush and Atlantic. There was a lot of controversy and complaints around the building of this massive arena in the already traffic-overrun neighborhood. Yet even the residents who resist the new construction perhaps secretly wonder and maybe even hope of a new “Duke of Flatbush” to represent the borough.

The Nets basketball team has left New Jersey for a new jersey and just this week the team logo, designed by hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, was unveiled to the public.

Nets Logo
The new mark initially underwhelms the designer in me. But despite this, my gut reaction—my fan reaction, my Brooklynite reaction—to the new logo is excitement.

Black. White. Bold. Minimal. Nostalgic. Yes, there are some technical problems—for example, the typography is weak and there is a lack of attention to the meshing of the elements. But the fact that it is not overlaid with superficial graphics, gradients or other visual noise makes it pure, no-nonsense Brooklyn. I applaud this simple, straightforward approach. It is a brave step for any NBA organization.

The Brooklyn Nets will be the only team to sport a complete black-and-white-only color scheme. It sets them apart from all their competitors. Nets CEO Brett Yormark calls this, "The new badge for Brooklyn." And Jay-Z, inspired by Brooklyn’s subway and old-school signage, commented that “the boldness of the design demonstrates the confidence we have in our new direction.”

Gone is the typical mascot approach, replaced with a conscious visual nod to Brooklyn’s storied hip-hop history. For instance, all the merchandise references Brooklyn native rappers such as Notorious B.I.G and the Beastie Boys. And since Brooklyn hasn’t housed a major sports team since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles after the 1957 season, the new Nets logo stands for the long history and energy of a reborn borough—truly a great metropolis unto itself.

As a designer, I confess I have some reservations, but they are far outweighed by the raw power and in-your-face realness. It represents what Brooklyn is famed to be and of the way basketball is meant to be played.




9 comment(s)

  1. I.love.brooklyn.

    I appreciate the logo in that it is simplistic and straight to the point, but it could be cleaner. It doesn’t have that extra “umph!” Great piece, Kamilah.

  2. Such an exquisite piece Miss. Benjamin.

    I am most enamored with your capability to step out of your designer bias and appreciate the logo for its sheer raw and timeless look.

    I think they hit a homerun here. As an ex Brooklyn resident I always saw a difference between BK and that of the “City”. I think they wanted to contrast themselves in order to make sure they differentiated themselves from the other major NBA franchise in NY (The Knicks). The raw and gritty/basic look and feel to the logo meshes well with that of Brooklyn as a city. Therefore… This Logo is ModernStandard Approved.

  3. Simplicity is truly the key. And for the BK Nets, it works in their favor. The shield like logo brings about images of honor and respect. It demands your attention in a “manly” kind of way. what a wonderful article by Kamilah Benjamin. Will she be writing more?

  4. I like its simplicity.
    I love the way the basket ball enters.
    The holding shape is strong.
    The typography is poor.

    I too love Brooklyn.
    (I’m from Liverpool, UK)

    Sweet blog.

  5. First, excellent piece, Ms. Benjamin!

    I’m of two minds about the logo and starkness of the palette (or lack thereof). As a former New Yorker (though not a native), cognizant of the rich history and heartbreak involved with Brooklyn pro sports teams, I’m happy the Biggest Borough has its own top-tier franchise to call its own. I do dig the single “B” (feels like a “modernized” throwback to the old Brooklyn Dodgers single “B” that was their emblem before moving to LA). I like the the sans serif typeface for its clarity and strength.

    But I think the palette is problematic. Nothing in BK is simply black and white.

    It’s too simplistic for my tastes.

    I actually like the exterior palette (sort of a brown, weathered bronze patina) of the Barclays Bank Center where they will play and think that it more represents Brooklyn, as does the red of the bricks in the rowhomes, the tawny color of the concrete on most blocks, the rich weathered brown of the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Whether those can be made Pantone safe, I don’t know (I’m a lowly photographer), but I do know that black and white as the only colors is underwhelming.

    Yeah, the logo and the gear bearing it will be a hit — but not necessarily because of great color science.

  6. Nice article Kamilah!

  7. Thank you for the comments, everyone!

    @IAmTonyArmstrong: Your point of you makes sense. When someone thinks about Brooklyn, its doesn’t present itself as a “black and white” type of place. Brooklyn is a melting pot of cultures, languages, neighborhoods and people. But I just do not think the logo would be as hard-hitting as it is now if it was muddled with a extensive color palette.

    When I look at the sea horrible NBA logos currently, filled with gradients, drop shadows. web 2.0-like graphics, it is a breath of fresh air to see something so simple and upstanding.

    To me, the black and white is truthful and unpretentious, and if anything, that is Brooklyn stands for. No B.S. Unconcealed. There is no getting around it.

  8. Excellent piece, Ms. Benjamin!

    The visual rhetoric emanating from The Nets’ logo screams Brooklyn-solid.

  9. Siegel Innovations appreciates the attempt, but feels Jay-Z should focus on music, not design. It’s a good start, simple, but not compelling.

    It’s how you deemed it, a badge. Nice for a sticker to put on your car, but it’s missing somethi…ng – just can’t put a label on it, but we’re not being paid to fix it, and perspectives are free, ha. You can just tell J’s mindset here and envisioning the logo being on a polo t-shirt or stamped on apparel.

    It should call upon the great area of Brooklyn more, respect some of the history of the old logo (which it does with the general shape), the copy is simple and understood – but siegel | innovations feels that a compelling brand identity can have the copy and or design stand alone and be understood.

    This looks like it was designed by a fourth grade art class. Nothing wrong with that, but it reminds us of the jcpenney logo, or the Gap Inc. logo fiasco where the approach to being simple and clean were appreciated, but there was something missing.

    Logos should be sleek, simple, and a fun way to look at it is ‘can you easily draw it’ or repeat how it looks freehand – but complicated enough that you just can’t draw it as cool as it is in reality. You grasp it, get it, and it draws you in to where you want it on things you own, you love it as a label or brand you love, but it doesn’t get diminished if you slap it all over t-shirts or the like. Think the Nike swoosh. You can draw it, but never as awesome as it is in reality, and it represents something that you love, engage, and is a part of your daily style – but without diminishing it’s value, or yours.

    We think this attempt hit the point and fine balancing act of being too simple, and could use some NOS in the design engine here, but delicately not make it too complicated. Back to the drawing board Mr. HOVA.

    What do you feel is ‘missing’ here?

    With humble grace,
    Brian Siegel, CMO s|i
    bringing brands alive >> through human driven IMMERSION

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