BTLNHL #14: Buffalo Sabres
Bob: Okay, we’ve got this hockey team, and we have to make a logo for them. Any ideas?
Lucy: What’s the team called?
Bob: The Buffalo Sabres.
Lucy: How about a buffalo with some sabres?
Bob: I like your thinking!
Okay, so the Sabres don’t have the most creative, ingenuous or outside-the-box-thinking logo, but that’s not always a bad thing (just ask Gary Busey). If you’re a team based in a town called Buffalo, you’ve pretty much got a basis for a team logo right there, and some of the other Buffalo teams decided to just go with that, like the Buffalo Bills (named after the famed buffalo hunter,“Buffalo Bill” Cody, not to be confused with the target of John Lennon’s scorn, Bungalow Bill), or the very redundant Buffalo Bisons. According to my secret sources (aka Wikipedia), the Sabres’ organization wanted something different, so they crowdsourced the team name in a contest and came up with Sabres. No idea what a sabre has to do with a buffalo, or the city of Buffalo, but that’s what crowdsourcing gets you.
So, how you mix these two relatively disparate elements into one logo? “You don’t,” said the logo designer. And in this case, I think it was the right choice. I’ve already talked extensively about the dangers of using animals in a professional sports logo, and they wisely steered clear of having a cartoon buffalo holding a sword in one hand and a hockey stick in the other. Really, how stupid would that look? The only thing worse would be something like a fabric crop, say cotton, dressed like a king and playing hockey. Good thing nobody did…oh, wait a minute.
Anyway, they wisely left the two alone, and just put them together in a circle, neither interacting with each other or really aware of each other. The buffalo is just charging, as buffalos are wont to do (sometimes without much good sense) and the two sabres are just hanging out, like they’re mounted on the wall. The result is a quirky logo that’s well constructed and, as such, has a lot of character to it. It’s a good thing the buffalo and sabres didn’t switch positions, otherwise it could be misconstrued as a hamster wheel.
The buffalo itself is a great example of using animals and animal caricatures in the design of hockey logos for a professional league. It’s simple and pared down to its core, but still has a lot of strength and dynamism to it. The only stupid thing is the red eye. Really, is this necessary? In most cases, the buffalo is too small to even notice the red eye and besides, how many buffaloes have you seen with red eyes? We get it, the buffalo’s angry. Gotcha. Good thing I have some handy-dandy red-eye removal technology.
The other element, the sabres, are again simple, pared-down but still has some style and character to it thanks to the design of the handles. It really is well done.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the Sabres’ logo legacy. This vintage logo came back into full-time usage in 2010, after 14 years of general awfulness, including a flaming demonic buffalo that is the epitome of everything I dislike about animals in logo design and bad ’90s-era “xtreme” design. It’s a complete mess and would have been very low on this BTLNHL list had it still been around. The only thing that could have been worse is a buffalo that looks like a slug, and that’s exactly what came next. Really? Seriously? Luckily for Buffalo fans everywhere, they went back to their original branding after realizing how good it looked after the inaugural Winter Classic. The only hangover from those 14 years of darkness is the red-eye, which is kind of like Steve Zissou’s crazy-eye.
So, this heritage logo is a vast improvement over the previous logos. But the new version isn’t exactly the same as the original. The blue is a little bit darker, which I like (as it has more strength and contrast against the white ice) and they added a grey outline around everything, which I don’t like at all, because adding the grey didn’t create just one outline, but two, with another outline of the darker blue around everything as well. Is that really necessary? Having just a grey outline (instead of a grey and blue outline) looks awful, so how about no outline at all, except around the outside of the logo? I think it’s much better. The outlines just detract from the beauty of the elements inside the circle.
Speaking of the circle, it’s always a simple and great choice to get elements together into a cohesive logo. It doesn’t always work, but in this case, it does well.
So, we’re deep into the top half of the countdown now, with the quirky but well-executed Buffalo Sabres coming in at #14.
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