Put One in the W Column: The Story Behind Dave Winfield’s Brand

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Ask anyone who knows Dave Winfield to describe him—as a baseball player or as a person—and you’ll start hearing the same words over and over: dependable, classy, consistent. His aura is as much about his longterm greatness on the field as it is about the goodness of his heart. He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer after 20 years with six teams, but the fact that he was the first active athlete to establish a charitable foundation, the David M. Winfield Foundation for Underprivileged Youth in 1977, is as big a part of his legacy as anything else.

So when Todd Radom of Todd Radom Design and Bill Frederick of Fanbrandz, partners in the design firm Brandtheon, started working with Winfield on a personal brand, a lot of their work was already done for them.

“His image is kind of frozen in amber, in a good way,” said Radom (whose voice you would definitely recognize if you listen to Buster Olney’s Baseball Tonight podcast). “In the case of Dave Winfield, his reputation and his persona is one of class and stability and elegance.”

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That said, developing a brand for an individual presents challenges for designers who often work with organizations or events.

“Just from a visual standpoint, here’s a guy that played for six different teams, so you can’t necessarily associate him with any one city or the colors of any one franchise,” Radom said. “He wore a couple of different numbers along the way, so that’s kind out of play to some degree, and also the fact that there’s a whole generation of people who never knew him as a player. So you can’t rely on a sense of place or a sense of time that you might associate with a specific event or a franchise.”

It’s been more than two decades since Dave Winfield took the field in a Major League Baseball uniform, but he’s still very much a part of the game. He’s actively involved with the MLB Players Association as advisor to the executive director, he’s been an analyst on Fox and ESPN, and he can be found behind the podium giving speeches and commencement addresses everywhere from the College World Series to charitable organizations to major corporations.

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Winfield could have relied on his popularity as a player and the strength of his reputation, but as a guy who wore a lot of logos over the years, he recognized the value of a strong brand.

“Because I’ve always been engaged with the public, and corporate America, and have been on television, radio, and other media platforms for many years,” Winfield said, “I felt like if I had a professional, recognizable, and consistent look representing what I do, I would grow new opportunities in the business world and enhance existing relationships.”

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The logo that Radom and Frederick created features clean, sans-serif type and a reductionist silhouette of Winfield’s iconic batting stance. The designers took on the task of representing Winfield visually by focusing on his qualities as a person.

“The top-line item on the creative brief was integrity,” Radom said. “All roads led to this strikingly contemporary, solid, symmetrical, no-nonsense, honest series of visuals.”

“It shouldn’t be overly clever, because that’s not really the message,” said Frederick. “This idea of integrity, it really had to be so solid on its own, and not really provide or present something that had to be figured out. The nature of his personality and his career is just so solid.”

dave-winfieldWinfield, whom Radom and Frederick describe as a “dream client” and “Minnesota nice,” brought a lot of questions and a willingness to learn about branding to the table.

“In terms of the design process, every comment he made was so smart,” Frederick said. “It was a great process because of that. He was very thoughtful.”

“It’s not easy to create that visual identity,” Winfield said. “It took a professional collaboration and some time to develop the right logo and color palette for me…. I learned that a logo should convey the correct perception of the person or entity, and that the individual or entity should put forth a consistent and accurate display of its purpose or reason for being.”

In the larger world of sports branding, developing a logo for an individual is a decidedly different task than creating one for a team or an event. For someone like Winfield, who has been a public figure off the field for as many years as he was a player, a personal brand is not just a reminder to fans of who he was as a Hall of Fame Padre/Yankee/Angel/Blue Jay/Twin/Indian, but a statement about who he is now—analyst/philanthropist/public speaker—and who he will be going forward.