They aren’t superheroes, but they have their own marks (just be glad they don’t also carry capes and other costumes). The biggest names in sports—you know, the ones that have their own line of shoes and apparel—need a little something besides a swoosh or three stripes to set their brand apart from the other really famous people around them, so they sport their own logo.
We all know about Jordan’s Jumpman logo or the interlocking T and W banner for Tiger Woods, but the push to create individualized brands featuring these major sports marketing tools has led to a proliferation of personal logos. Let’s walk through a few of the more noticeable:
Honestly, there were some pretty obvious tools to play with when creating the NBA star’s logo in 2012. Using an actual rose visual, adidas brought in a hefty amount of symbolism to define the mark.
The three rose pedals pay homage to Rose’s three older brothers, while the No. 1 in the middle of the mark honors his mother. And since he sports No. 1 on his uniform, we get an added bonus there.
Playing with negative space, the 1 can be seen as a D instead, if you wish. Or both. That is your decision.
“I love the new logo that calls out the most important things to me: my family, basketball and the city of Chicago,” Rose said in an adidas statement when the logo unveiled.
We can’t get too far into a discussion of personal branding before we have to yet again bring up the superhero word. When adidas created its new look for soccer sensation Lionel Messi in 2012, it evoked the word “superhero” to describe the look of the mark. Using an ample amount of negative space, the logo plays off the M of Messi and, as you would expect from adidas, offers up a three stripes in all sorts of visual variations.
Gaining a major update when Lebron moved to Miami in 2011, the bold, simple mark retained the crown from Lebron’s original Nike logo.
The Lebron James logo, though, isn’t a dominant factor in his footwear, although you can find it plenty donning his apparel line. An L and a J cradle the crown, giving you three distinct aspects to “King James.”
Offered to the world in 2008, the Nike-created logo sports plenty of simplicity, with an artful—playful, if you will—lowercase “k” and “d” cozying up to each other. The somewhat bubbly appearance gets the most attention on the tongue of Durant’s shoes.
Around since 2005, if you think the Kobe logo reminds you of a ninja star, you aren’t too far off. Eric Avar, a lead designer for Nike, has said that Japanese samurai warriors inspired the mark.
The Jumpman first debuted in 1985. The now legendary logo is an actual photo of MJ, taken during a magazine shoot. While Jordan wasn’t really dunking for the photo, instead simply jumping and spreading his legs out with the basketball in his left hand, the look was a keeper for Nike folks, who started attaching it to the tags of Jordan shoes in 1985.
Then it made the leap to the actual shoe, landing on the Air Jordan III in 1988. During a day when actual athlete silhouettes were popular, the Jumpman has obviously transcended the idea of a personal brand, spawning a new business model for shoes and apparel.
A long process of miscommunication and unloved logos led to Nike and Tiger agreeing on the banner design of the interlocking T and W, a visual mark you see on his hats, usually the first two days of a major tournament before Nike forces him to switch to the swoosh.
As is common with individualized logos, the tennis legend has a highly stylized version of his initials donning his shoes and apparel. The classic look is high on embellishments, even with the limited use of lines.
The soccer superstar’s logo—a heart crossed out by an X—appears on Ronaldo’s Nike line of apparel, usually on the left breast. Fitting, huh? The logo is said to symbolize Ronaldo’s love for winning (the heart) and his hatred of losing (the X).