Earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers unveiled new uniforms that harken back to their win in Super Bowl XXXVII, as well as a brand new pewter alternate. And though that resonated with a large portion of the fanbase – as well as NFL fans as a whole – it left others yearning for a return to the franchise’s creamsicle days.
Such was the case for the team at Torch Creative, which includes Brad Bishop and Michael Thurman, who first fell in love with Tampa Bay’s brand in the mid-to-late 1970s.
“It was nice to see them return to those uniforms as opposed to the ‘digital alarm clock’ numerals. But having been a huge NFL fan since around the age of 5, the vintage creamsicles are special to us,” Bishop told SportsLogos.net. “It’s basically a nostalgic thing for us at this point.”
With that, Bishop and Thurman set out to create a concept around the creamsicle color scheme. Their final design did more than just that, though, perfectly blending the Bucco Bruce mascot with the skull from Tampa Bay’s current logo.
“We felt using the skull as opposed to the human Bucco Bruce gave the logo a sense of ‘striking terror into the bravest of sailors,’ which is an old pirate’s saying from Davy Jones,” Bishop said. “Even though we are fans of the vintage logo, we wanted to experiment with something that felt a little more intimidating.”
Bishop acknowledged the difficulties in combining two different logos due to some perception issues with the original, particularly the dagger in Bucco Bruce’s mouth and his hat. But he went above and beyond in his attempt to fix the former.
“I posed in front of the bathroom mirror with a butter knife in my mouth while quickly sketching the correct perspective, so it felt a little truer to real life,” Bishop said.
You may notice Torch’s concept does not include an earring like the original – after all, skulls don’t have ears. To compensate for that, the group symbolically added a round highlight in the bandana as a subtle nod to Bucco Bruce’s piercing.
“Overall, we really wanted to try and capture a very clean, upscale aesthetic which we feel is synonymous with the NFL and their team identities,” Bishop said. “Early on, we were skewing somewhat busy/complicated in our sketches and initial computer versions, so we really worked to streamline the concepts to fit the clean, upscale NFL aesthetic that we are so fond of.”
In addition to the primary logo, Torch also created an interlocking “TB” secondary mark that includes a sword doubling as one of the letters. The group considered using a dagger for consistency’s sake, but that led to some legibility issues.
“We kept experimenting with the size of the handle, guard, blade, etc., and reworked it until we landed on the posted image,” Bishop said. “Simply stated, we took some artistic liberties to make sure it read ‘TB’ first with the sword being a secondary thought.”
Torch is also working on a tertiary ship logo and a complete set of custom work marks, which the group plans to unveil soon.
In addition to the creamsicle concept – which keeps the Buccaneers’ current orange but uses a darker shade of red for better contrast between the two colors – Bishop and Thurman also displayed the logo in the team’s pewter-based color scheme.
“We know that many Buccaneers fans grew up with the pewter color scheme and several asked to see how it looked,” Bishop said. “After experimenting with pewter, we felt it worked pretty well.”
In the end, the entire project took about three months to complete. It gave Bishop and Thurman – whose past clients include the NBA, NHL, Minor League Baseball and numerous Division I colleges and bowl games – something to do when the coronavirus pandemic hit and turned out to be pretty rewarding.
“(We received a lot of) positive feedback from people on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn,” Bishop said. “We never thought it would get this much play on social media, so having all of the comments, likes and shares/retweets has been a real treat. We can’t thank everyone enough for the kind emails, comments, messages and even phone calls in regards to this project.”
Photos courtesy of Torch Creative and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.