Every December since 1901, executives, owners, general managers, scouts, hot dog vendors, and job seekers from Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball’s collective 190 teams convene for four days for the sport’s Winter Meetings. The event has become a media extravaganza, culminating with the Rule 5 Draft, when the likes of Bobby Bonilla, Shane Victorino, and José Bautista go unprotected by their teams and get picked up by another.
The logo for the event almost always ties to the location—music themes when it’s held in Nashville, armadillos when it’s in Dallas, a race car theme in Indianapolis, etc. The 2017 meetings will be held in Orlando, which has hosted them before, most recently in 2010, featuring an alligator, and in 2013, which highlighted a palm tree.
This year, baseball’s higher-ups wanted to do something a little different, so they reached out to Brian Gundell, Principal and Creative Director of the eponymous Brian Gundell Graphic Design Co.
“They had kind of gone through all of the cliché Florida aesthetics, oranges, gators, swamp, all that good stuff,” he said. “Because it’s been going for so long, you can’t repeat yourself. They often repeat venue sites, so it’s a challenge coming up with new creative for a location that’s already been featured previously.”
In the end, Gundell came back with the most obvious idea that hasn’t been used yet for Orlando: a space theme tied to the NASA presence on Cape Canaveral, an hour east of Orlando.
“I brought that to them and they were like, ‘Mmmmmm… no,'” he said.”If this was taking place in Houston, that would be great, but this is Orlando. Nobody really thinks of that.”
So it was back to the drawing board.
“With the event taking place on Disney property at the Swan and Dolphin Resort, we were like, why are we shying away from this?” Gundell said. “Whenever you say Orlando to somebody not from Florida, the first thing they think of is Disney.”
Of course, the Walt Disney Company has been known to be somewhat litigious in the past, so Gundell was sure to tread carefully.
“We really didn’t want to upset Disney,” he said. “As long as we don’t infringe on Disney’s intellectual property, where’s the harm?”
“There’s a lot of little nods to Disney,” he said. For instance, “The sorcerer’s cap in the primary mark was inspired by Fantasia, but we made sure that the star pattern and color and everything were different.”
The average fan might ask what wizards and fairy tales have to do with baseball, but to Gundell, the connection is obvious.
“It’s baseball and Disney, and together they’re fun, they’re things that people do from their childhood throughout the rest of their life, and places that make memories that stay with you,” he said. “So when you put them together I think they can be special and I think that relationship works really well.”
“That’s 100 percent original, it’s created from scratch,” he said. “It’s not really based on anything except for looking at the old Disneyland wordmark, and kind of extrapolating, but also making sure that the characters in that went far away enough from the Disneyland type to not make Disney upset.”
Baseball’s Winter Meetings are enough of a circus that a whimsical, Disney-esque logo seems very appropriate. For an event that has been branded visually for decades, coming up with something new and eye-catching is a huge challenge, but this year’s logo has done just that.