BTLNHL #13: Calgary Flames

By Admin
In BTLNHL Countdown
Jan 18th, 2012

Let me preface the Flames’ entry in the BTLNHL with a little something. I am a Canucks fan. I generally dislike anything to do with the Flames, and I have been trained to think like that almost my entire life. I loved 1994. I hated 1989 and 2004. I tried my absolute best to not let my personal preferences get in the way of ranking this logo. I tried not to rank them too low, or to overcompensate for this by ranking them too high. Did I succeed? I’m sure some of you don’t think so. But it’s hard to detach yourself from something you’ve passionately cheered for your whole life.

But, let me also say that the next grouping of 3 or 4 logos are extremely close in my mind and the Flames could easily have been bumped up a couple spots, but maybe this is where my own biases come into play, and I’ve placed them at 13th. I’ll do my best to validate this decision with incredibly detached and perfectly objective analysis. It will be just, fair and clever. Or maybe just fairly clever.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way. The Flames. Their logo is incredibly obvious (a C, with flames). The Sabres made an obvious logo that ended up being interesting and quirky. The Flames’ is considerably less interesting and quirky. But what it lacks in personality it makes for with simplicity and distinctiveness. The colours, again, while being an obvious choice, is simple and distinctive, as they’re the only team that tries to pull off the red and deep yellow combo and, of course, it fits with the content, you know, fire being red and yellow and all. Unless, of course, you’re this guy. Then (for some reason) it’s blue “natural gas” fire.

There’s a couple things that I don’t like about the logo. First, the seeming randomness of the flames coming off the C. As a designer, I need to find a reason for including every element in a design that I create and, especially in logos, there has to be some sense of order and purpose. Spontaneity and randomness are great in some instances, it’s generally detrimental to logo design. On the negative spontaneity scale, I’d say it’s right below spontaneous combustion. But maybe the logo is trying to depict a C in the middle of a spontaneous combustion? The Flames’ missing the playoffs for the last three years would certainly reflect that.

I’m sorry, that was uncalled for. Okay, pushing the personal feelings down again.

I realize that fire and flames in general don’t follow any sort of structured or sensical pattern at all, and demanding that from a fire-based logo would be non-sensical. But, there should be at least a certain amount of symmetry and purpose to it. This has been achieved in other fire-based logos, like the Tennessee Titans for example (not saying I like the logo as a whole though). Or, the ECHL’s Columbia Inferno (although it looks too much like a Thai Buddhist temple for my liking). Or, the logo of the original NHL Flames, from Atlanta. And if you turn the Flames’ logo sideways, it almost looks like Ghost Rider.

I guess what I’m getting at is that the elegance and simplicity of the logo is downgraded just a bit by the flames. It’s a little bit off-balance (with the flames going below the C on the bottom, but not rising about the C on the top, which drags the logo down a bit) and that white spot in the middle of the flames makes no sense to me, especially when highlighted by the black outline. I have to assume that it was intentional as it’s easy enough to get rid of. And that’s what I find confusing. It’s just drawing attention to something that should have no attention drawn to it. Like children at Milford Academy.

If you have no idea what Milford Academy is, you should watch some Arrested Development. Seriously funny show.

Okay, the good stuff now. And there definitely is, even though I’ve spent most of this post so far dissing the logo (I blame my childhood).

The choice of Helvetica Black Italic is an excellent choice as a starting point for the C. Helvetica is generally known as one of the best fonts ever created, and while I’m not as big a fan of it as others, it can look really nice at large sizes, and in this logo it has a perfect roundness to lead into the flames. It’s not the most “sporty” font for a hockey logo, but the C on its own has some character while not enough to completely dominate the logo. Like this dog, it’s got great balance.

And again, the great thing this logo has going for it is its simplicity and iconic-ness. There’s a reason the logo has barely changed since the Flames moved from Atlanta in 1980. The only change is the addition of a black outline in 1994. Usually, I’m against additional outlines, but the black does two things. One, it makes the C look larger, heavier and more solid than the original, even though they’re identical in size. Two, it solidifies the yellow outline, which isn’t much of an outline against a white background, making it look more fuzzy than solid. They just need to get rid of that white spot I mentioned earlier.

So, the Flames comes in at #13. It seems somewhat low, but we’re heading into ready prestigious territory from here, so it’s definitely nothing to shake a fist at.

And because I still dislike the Flames (and because I’m apparently still 12 years old), I put Carrot Top on it. So there.


The BTLNTL Countdown Posts

BTLNHL Finals: Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings
BTLNHL #3: Philadelphia Flyers
BTLNHL #4: St. Louis Blues
BTLNHL #5: Montreal Canadiens
BTLNHL #6: Pittsburgh Penguins
BTLNHL #7: Chicago Blackhawks
BTLNHL #8: Toronto Maple Leafs
BTLNHL #9: Phoenix Coyotes
BTLNHL #10: Vancouver Canucks
BTLNHL #11: Edmonton Oilers
BTLNHL #12: New York Rangers
BTLNHL #13: Calgary Flames
BTLNHL #14: Buffalo Sabres
BTLNHL #15: Winnipeg Jets
BTLNHL #16: Minnesota Wild
BTLNHL #17: New Jersey Devils
BTLNHL #18: Nashville Predators
BTLNHL #19: Carolina Hurricanes
BTLNHL #20: New York Islanders
BTLNHL #21: Ottawa Senators
BTLNHL #22: Tampa Bay Lightning
BTLNHL #23: Columbus Blue Jackets
BTLNHL #24: Washington Capitals
BTLNHL #25: San Jose Sharks
BTLNHL #26: Florida Panthers
BTLNHL #27: Dallas Stars
BTLNHL #28: Los Angeles Kings
BTLNHL #29: Colorado Avalanche
BTLNHL #30: Anaheim Ducks


27 Responses to “BTLNHL #13: Calgary Flames”

  1. Guy Incognitus says:

    Personally, I don’t see how the Canucks, Penguins or Coyotes logos are better than this logo. Looking forward to what you have to say about those, just wish I didn’t have to wait a week for each entry…

    • Admin says:

      Yeah, I’d love to pump these out more often, but it’s a side gig on top my full-time job, so for now, I’ll get them out as often as I can.

  2. FYSD says:

    ‘Nucks fan eh? That explains why some good logos (Wild, Sabres, Flames, Sharks) are ranked lower than the terrible Orca C logo.

    Also why do “Original 6″ logos always get automatic passes? There is nothing special about the Rangers logo other than the fact that it’s old.

    • Admin says:

      Yup, ‘Nucks fan. That’s why I’m trying to carefully articulate the design aspects of each logo individually to substantiate my list. I don’t expect everyone to agree.

      As for the Original 6, they’re coming up and you can read my defence of them then.

  3. Dave says:

    Dead on with the Flames logo. Simplicity = Good; Execution = Not Great. The flame arrangement drags it down in the execution department, and the small, black outlined, white spot created by the placement of the flames should have been noticed and eliminated.

    This logo is probably ranked about right, but it and about 20 other logos are better than the Canucks logo. So thanks for the disclosure. I kind of would have liked it if you did your own version with a different flame arrangement, but it probably would have hurt to improve the logo of your natural enemy.

    Keep up the good work. I really enjoy these articles.

  4. Rob says:

    Well I was hoping this logo to be higher than Phoenix and Vancouver but as you are a canuck I guess that explains things. But honestly, the canucks logo is horrible and should be lower than a few logos you already ranked. Beacause of the Flame’s simplicity in their logo, it is a logo that won’t need much change, it can withstand the test of time and hence become synonymous with their franchise. Meanwhile, I look at Vancouver’s logo and think “WTF is that?!?” Nothing really to associate immediately with the team, can’t even really figure out what it is at first glance unless you look closer. Honestly, in the long term I could easily see the canucks going for another redesign. Long post to say Calgary should be high than Vancouver.

    *Full disclosure: This post written from Chicago, so I am biased against the Canucks but still thinks their logo sucks, among other things

  5. Admin says:

    Okay, so it’s quite apparent I’m going to have to work my ass off to convince all of you of the Canucks’ placing, when it comes up.

  6. Pat says:

    I think you’re doing a great job with this. Obviously not everyone is going to agree with your rankings, but who cares. I don’t even really care about the rankings as much as I like just reading the critiques. You point out things that I never would notice, but when you mention it, it really makes sense (like the white space in the flames).

  7. Alex says:

    As a die hard Flames fan it is hard to see my beloved logo this low. I actually got bored one day and made my own list and only ranked them ninth so I’m not saying it is the best out there but will defend it a little. I have studied this logo enough to really admire its simplicity and liken it to the Blues or Flyers logos where upon first glance you see one thing and then when you look further you see different shapes and looks. I also like the fact the flames are slightly imbalanced and there is a white spot to illustrate the unpredictability that fire generally has. But maybe I have looked into the light too long.

  8. Jason says:

    Have to agree that there a few as yet unranked that, in my opinion, are not as good (ex: Canucks, Pens, Oilers, and blasphemy, I know…Toronto) as a few that have already been done (specifically Calgary and Buffalo). But regardless of how the rankings shake out, it’s been a tremendous series and a fun read. Seeing as I have ZERO artistic ability and even #30 is 100 times better than anything I could create on my own, its interesting to see all the “little things” that go into a logo creation. Keep up the good work!

  9. mjk716 says:

    Ah, well, outing yourself as a Canucks fan clearly explains how the Sabres and Devils logos fell lower than the Canucks logo, which falls in the categories of ‘mean,’ ‘animal,’ and ‘from the 90’s. (or was it 2000?)’ Penguins and Coyotes should have definitely come off the board before the Flames.

    Nonetheless, keep ‘em coming! Love the blog.

  10. mjk716 says:

    Additionally, consider this my formal request to see the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers finish 1 and 1A. The more I look at the remaining marks (and I say this with a seething hatred of the Flyers) those two logos stand alone in my mind.

  11. Admin says:

    Thanks to all who keep reading despite your disagreement with my rankings. I try to keep them entertaining partly for that reason. I promise you that the Canucks logo is not at the top of the list!

  12. Matt says:

    I would like to point out that I was hating on the ‘Nucks logo about a month ago. And I still think its one of the worst in the league. absolutely horrible logo.

  13. brisulph says:

    I have to say, this seems a bit low, but I can live with it (as a Flames fan). I am curious as to your thoughts of the Black C they have used in recent years (if you did discuss it above, my apologies).

    Personally (from my non-design point of view), it looks far better than the Red C, but I think it is the red background of the jersey that makes it look so good. Your thoughts?

    • Admin says:

      For right now, I’m sticking to the “official” logos, as opposed to alternate logos and other things. I think the black logo on the red home jerseys look great, and is a definite improvement over their old white logo on red. I have complaints about the rest of the Flames’ jersey, but maybe I’ll leave that for another post.

      • brisulph says:

        If you refer to the “flame snotting horse” (as my father the Habs fan and I both call it), I agree wholeheartedly. It is a TERRIBLE jersey/logo. I also despised the 1990s “German national team” striped look.

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  16. Justin says:

    The flames are trailing behind the “C” to represent motion; specifically, how hockey teams run from Atlanta as quickly as possible.

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