Did you know Major League Baseball has a new logo this year?
No, I’m not referring to the Marlins or Phillies, nor any of the other teams who have changed recently in the league, I’m talking about the league itself. That famous silhouetted batter, originally designed by Jerry Dior for the league’s centennial celebration in 1969, it’s a logo you see on the back of just about every ballcap you encounter every day while out running errands… that one.
It’s the first change to the league’s logo since 1992 when the league darkened the blue and brightened the red. Now here, fifty years after Dior’s original design, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary, Major League Baseball has updated the colours again, in addition to a few other noteworthy changes.
“We wanted to reflect on the brand”, MLB’s Vice President, Design Services Anne Occi told SportsLogos.Net. “We took a very deep dive and looked at brand evolution across the board and decided that, so much of how we view things now, screens, electronic formats, we thought first to reflect on the colours.”
“Our batter has such strength, we did not alter or change the batter at all. There’s no change to the width of the line that went around. We found that that was very successful and there was no need to change it. We looked at a variety of things but it really came back to the fact that the batter didn’t need to be fixed.”
The first step the league took in updating their look was darkening the colours of the iconic MLB logo. Previously having just arbitrarily been assigned shades of red and blue, a patriotic choice when paired with the white, they have now been adjusted to be an exact match with the official colours of the flag of the United States.
“We think the colours now, really stand for how fans embrace everything”, Occi continued. “So we took the colours of the American flag and we put those into the batter. We wanted to send a very strong message about the National Pastime”.
“We also developed a typeface called MLB Bullpen and it’s all predicated on that angle of the bat. So the angle of the bat reads into how a lot of the letters are formed. We also retired the words ‘Major League Baseball‘ from the logo, in the vernacular now we’ve established ourselves as ‘MLB’.”
As Occi noted above, the primary mark had previously included “MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL” written out in red beneath the batter for the past several decades. That’s gone now. For 2019, the primary logo is just the batter and the new red and blue. A series of alternate marks were created using just the league’s acronym “MLB” either off to the side or below the batter, similar to the MLB150 logo.
“In deepening the colours when you see it, it is much more mature looking. Across all brands, things are getting distilled down, MLB At Bat just did a rebrand and they’ve used a lot of lines instead of just the 3D buttons that we used to see.”
The new colours, fonts, and styling guidelines were rolled out without any announcement over the past several months, MLB.com, MLBShop.com, MLB TV, and the league’s official app MLB At Bat have all already made the appropriate tweaks to their products to incorporate the new styles.
It’s a great example of an organization realizing the strength of their existing look while also recognizing that trends, tastes, and styles all change over time and sometimes you need to keep up with that. A moderate tweak to the colours and fonts while maintaining the overall look of the logo is the best way to do it, an evolution so minor you don’t even see it unless you put them up side-by-side. It is a change but it’s still, very obviously, Major League Baseball.