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Colts Create Secondary Logo, Forever Tarnishing the Original

McDonald's is forever linked to the golden arches. This logo remains one of the world's most iconic, generating revenue for franchise owners throughout the world. When someone sees the golden arches, they know exactly what to expect when they walk through the door. Much like the catchy jingle, Big Mac sandwiches are made with all of the ingredients systematically laid out. Whether someone orders a meal from McDonald's in Indianapolis or Indonesia, it will look, feel, smell, and taste relatively the same anywhere.

Coca-Cola is associated with the color red or some variation of it as a secondary color with each of their individual brands. Pepsi as a counter to Coke is the brand that utilizes blue as their main color scheme. These brands are seen everyday in television commercials, in banner ads online, or in any space where advertising can be sold. People see these brands with such frequency that the slightest adjustment is noticed.

Sometimes changing a color scheme or logo can be necessary to salvage a brand. Tylenol's brand was forced to change in 1982 after seven people died from ingesting Tylenol branded capsules laced with potassium cyanide. To earn the public's trust back, Johnson & Johnson took complete responsibility for the incident and instituted uniform change for their Tylenol brand. Tamper-resistant packaging and induction seals helped ensure quality control measures were being taken to protect consumers. Tylenol's safety sealed red cap is what ultimately saved their brand from financial ruin after a tragically avoidable crisis. But these changes have gone even further, being a primary reason for Tylenol's continued success today as one of the most commonly used medications around world.

Sports leagues also use logos and specific color schemes to make it easy for fans to identify their team at a venue or when watching a game at home. These decisions are financial investments that hopefully develop a following and eventually become a brand for their fan bases to connect with over multiple generations.

Some brands in sports will never change and would cause an issue with fans if they were altered in any form. One city that has made their brand well known across multiple leagues is Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is known for being an industrial city, where people take pride in working for a steel mill or a factory-like job. So it shouldn't come as a shock that Pittsburgh's NFL team has been labeled as the Steelers.

The color scheme also makes sense with black projecting a strong, business like approach to what is done in the city and on the football field. The Pittsburgh Pirates in Major League Baseball and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins use the same color scheme to project the same kind of brand to their fans. All of Pittsburgh's professional sports teams relate to the city, and genuinely connect with its fans. Even NFL fans outside of Pittsburgh can relate to the Steelers if they hold a similar factory-like job or know someone who did in the past. Changing the logos or color schemes in Pittsburgh would alter the brand of sports in the city, and more broadly fail to connect as easily with its many fans.

Other logos that have become brands because of their loyal fan following include the New York Yankees, Boston Celtics, and the Dallas Cowboys. Each of those teams have become instantly recognizable just by their own logo, helping boost their overall brand.

So when an organization makes the decision to change their logo, it must be done with careful consideration and fulfill the purpose of improving the overall brand. The Indianapolis Colts have implemented a secondary logo for their team this season, which fails to improve the overall brand of the franchise. It is a logo that isn't necessary and is counter-productive on multiple fronts. Let's start with the fact that the Colts original logo is already iconic and does not need to have anything changed about it.

The Colts logo and color schemes have been commonplace in the NFL for over 65 years going back to their days in Baltimore. Legendary Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas wore the blue and white from 1956 through 1972. Peyton Manning would do the same from 1998 to 2012 after their move to Indianapolis in 1983.

The horseshoe design has survived more than six decades of time and transcended two different major cities. The Colts horseshoe logo has become ingrained in people's memory as one of the main indicators for the franchise. Just by its ability to identify the team, the horseshoe logo should remain as the only option. Introducing a secondary logo to an already iconic one seems redundant and serves little purpose in helping improve their brand.

The new secondary logo is also problematic by its goal of trying to tie the Colts to the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana at large. The Colts left Baltimore in the middle of the night to relocate to Indianapolis. While an NFL team has been greatly beneficial to Indianapolis and their growth as a sports destination, the Colts haven't always been a staple to the city. In the early 2000's, the Colts were in serious discussions to relocate again to Los Angeles too.

A last-minute lucrative plan to renovate downtown and construct Lucas Oil Stadium kept the Colts in Indianapolis. This deal would in turn, also allow Indianapolis to host an assortment of sporting events including a Super Bowl, Final Four, multiple Big Ten football championships and more in recent years. But it was the city of Indianapolis who had to argue on its own behalf to owner Jim Irsay to keep the Colts in place, not the other way around. While the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana is important to the Colts, it didn't keep them from looking at other locations to operate their business.

NFL teams require a lot of money to operate within a city and Indianapolis for its size is small compared to other markets. People who live in Indianapolis and the surrounding suburbs carry on relatively modest lives compared to places like Los Angeles or New York City with celebrity endorsers. For the Colts to design this logo and still be perfectly fine with charging outrageous prices for tickets, food, alcohol, and memorabilia is laughable. Its understandable why an NFL franchise would want to connect with its fans. But when most fans can't afford to go to the games in the first place, it loses its purpose.

This secondary logo for the Colts also doesn't seem necessary considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has shook everyday life for most Americans. Every major professional sports league besides the NFL has suspended games so far, fearing the health risk it presents to the public. The Colts shouldn't have made this secondary design not knowing what will need to postponed or pushed back. All of the money that goes into design, marketing, promotion, and sales with this new logo is wasted if the NFL season is cut short or cancelled.

In the end, this is about how a new logo will look on laundry and helmets. Most fans will only care about what the scoreboard says after games. But given the Colts history of relocation when opportunity calls, the relatively low socioeconomic status of their fan base and the current health concerns throughout the United States, this new logo design campaign seems like a real waste. After all, looking at their roster, the look of their team logo should be the last of their concerns.


Jimmy Kennedy, who sees no need in redesigning the Colts logo, can be reached at

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