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Houston Rockets

Client NBA’s Houston Rockets
Product Branding, Uniform, Typeface
Medium Print, Uniform, Broadcast
Description

Project Brief

For many years in the National Basketball Association, the Houston Rockets were the team that rarely enjoyed the spotlight. But in 2003 that all changed: the 7’5” rookie Yao Ming was emerging as a wildly popular superstar on the court. A beautiful new arena in downtown Houston drew more fans and showcased the rising fortunes of the team and, like Cinderella finally going to the ball, the Rockets were re-dressed in enviable fashion. Sleek new uniforms and a matching logo were introduced to signal the arrival of the now formidable Rockets.

When the owners of the Rockets made the decision to commission the new uniforms and logo, they wanted a look that would be revolutionary—something that would set a new standard in professional sports design. So they searched for a designer from outside the traditional sports graphic branding houses.

Approach

The logo design for the Rockets marries the energy of basketball with the legacy of the team's name. The logo is a sleek icon, capturing the thrust and thrill of a rocket’s lift-off and bringing it into the context of the court. Because the futuristic uniforms and the logo were designed in tandem, the complete look is organic and fluid. Even the new typeface is custom-designed, in synch with the style of the logo. The letterforms and numbers on the player’s jerseys and shorts were precisely drawn so that every single digit can be read well from a distance, whether by a fan in the arena or by one watching the game on television.

Outcome

While other marks in professional basketball are often cartoon-like and overly illustrative, the Rockets new identity succeeds in departing from these expected styles in mainstream sport graphics. It is simple, classic, energetic, and forward-thinking. Yet the logo is also extremely practical and versatile from a marketing point of view, easily adaptable for use on merchandise and billboards, in broadcast and signage, and on ticket stubs and T-shirts. In this way, the design team (Eiko Ishioka and Alfalfa Studio) met the expectations of the Rockets’ owners for a new standard in sports design. Their organic and collaborative design process has produced the most innovative and popular identity the NBA has seen in years.

Service Provided

Branding
Uniform design
Typography

Category
Expertise
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