On This Day: Toronto Raptors Unveil First Logo Change in 2014

On the heels of their wildly successful “We The North” campaign, the Toronto Raptors unveiled the first logo change in team history on December 19, 2014. 

Developed in partnership with the Sid Lee branding agency, the new Raptors logo gave the team a modern look. The rarely-used but still official 1990s-era basketball-dribbling dinosaur was now history, replaced with a basketball centred within a roundel; a claw tearing into the seams of the ball … a “basket-claw,” if you prefer.

The team first unveiled the logo via a video that showed the logo in black and white, stripped of all colour, a first impression which left fans and other onlookers puzzled. “Why were the Raptors ’ripping off’ the similarly-clad Brooklyn Nets, a division rival?”. A subsequent release cleared up these misconceptions; the logo had some colour after all, though not much, a black circle with the ball in silver and a thin band of red defining the outer border.

“Every movement needs a badge to stand behind, a symbol to identify those who defend our territory, an emblem to represent our character and its effect on the landscape,” read the narrator in the reveal video. “‘We the North’ is our battle cry, and this? This is our shield!”

The graphic the Raptors used to unveil their new logo on December 19, 2014

“‘We The North’ isn’t just a campaign. It’s an example of how an identity-shaping truth can spark a brand crusade and ultimately get firmly rooted in the culture of not just a city, but a whole country,” said the Sid Lee branding agency. “We opted to dial up the Canadian pride by establishing the former NBA outsider as a fierce team not just from Toronto, but from Canada. The Raptors embraced their outsider status and went all in.”

In a fairly unusual move, the club also unveiled a version of the logo featuring an entirely different colour scheme — black and gold, inspired by the colours of the team’s global ambassador Drake and his October’s Very Own branding line. The club would wear this black and gold set as an alternate uniform set with co-branded merch made available to fans.

An alternate colour scheme to sync up with team ambassador Drake’s OVO brand

Reaction to the logo was mixed but with an overall skewer to the negative. Most of the criticism focused on the overall lack of design in the logo. “Disappointingly pedestrian,” said Tom O’Grady, designer of the original Raptors brand, before adding “WE THE BLAND.” Readers of SportsLogos.Net rated the logo 4.9 out of 10. 

The logo change came at a time just as the Raptors were in the midst of their most successful era, six division championships in seven seasons with an NBA Championship as an exclamation mark just four seasons after its debut.

The Raptors won their first and only NBA title while using this logo in 2019

The logo lives on to this day, recoloured following the 2019-20 season, eliminating silver from the team’s colour scheme and emphasizing the team’s primary colour of Raptors Red.