Maybe the first mistake was the timing. With the rest of the sports world effectively shut down, the Los Angeles Rams decided that it was the ideal time to launch their updated logo. Unfortunately, they didn’t take into account that sports fans were desperate for anything to distract them from the nonstop glut of doom-and-gloom that currently makes up the rest of the news. The launch was met with a barrage of ridicule, much of it coming from their own fanbase, and the negative reaction could send the team back to the literal drawing board.
Why did the Rams feel the need to change the logo at all?
Well, the Rams are still working on finding their own identity – and a market – following their return to Los Angeles after spending 21 seasons as the St Louis Rams. They will also be playing at a new home, SoFi Stadium, next season (Covid-19 permitting), which makes it the ideal time for them to rebrand. Also, let’s not ignore the fact that a new logo means an opportunity to sell truckloads of updated merchandise at a premium. In the NFL, money is a contributing factor in nearly every decision.
So, when did things start to go wrong?
Almost immediately. First, images of a Rams hat made by New Era for the upcoming draft leaked online to near-universal disgust. At the time, the Rams claimed that this was a rejected design and echoed the opinions of their fans. “It’s not a hat I would buy or we would ever want in the marketplace,” said Kevin Demoff, chief operating officer of the Rams, adding that it “was a terrible introduction to where we are headed, but there’s nothing we can do about how that came to be.”
I assume things got worse…
They did. On 23 March, the Rams officially debuted their new colors and logo: gone were the navy blue and light gold, replaced by royal blue and solid gold. The updated logo featured a white “LA” superimposed on a blue background with the added twist that the capital “A” was growing what was supposed to be a golden ram’s horn. The colors weren’t so much the issue, it was the logo that became the target of, essentially, the entire sports world for the next few hours.
Was the logo really that bad?
It could be argued that the mockery was disproportionate to the flaws. It was likely that any redesign would have been doomed to a round of jokes because there wasn’t much else going on in the sports world at the time. With that being said, yes it was pretty darn bad, especially since the “horns” of the logo looked exactly like a capital “C,” which made the whole thing look, at first glance, like a logo for the Los Angeles Chargers. The number one goal of any logo should be to avoid making you look like you’re playing for a different team. And it’s even worse when that team happens to be your cross-city rivals in a market many don’t think can support two franchises in the first place.
What were some of the other criticisms of the logo?
Numerous people made the not-inaccurate claim that it looked like “a morning news logo.” SB Nation commemorated it with a headline that called it an “awful Dollar Tree-ass logo.” Eric Dickerson commented, “someone said it looked like a penis. It did.”
Wait, doesn’t Eric Dickerson work for the Rams?
He does! The former Rams star running-back is the team’s vice president of business development and he does not care for the new logo. In response, Dickerson posted that he “reviewed your comments regarding our new logos and share in your disappointment. I’ll be speaking with the teams on our behalf.” He also shared an alternate design created by a Rams booster club.
Was there any response from Demoff?
Well, you can’t say that he’s unaware of the fan response. In fact, he claimed that if the Rams raise more than $2m in a virtual telethon for coronavirus relief, he would read the top 10 mean tweets made about the redesign. They eventually raised $2,045,000, so one would guess that this is forthcoming.
Will the team keep the logo?
We’ll see. While there is already an online petition to force the team to change the logo, Demoff seems confident that fans will simply get used to it: “I think it’s a change that our fans will come to know and love over time.” He may be correct. There is a backlash nearly every time a team makes a bold change and fans usually adjust. Heck, even Gritty was met with derision when introduced and he’s become one of the most beloved mascots in sports. (Note: this may be because there are very few mascots who are tolerated, let alone “beloved,” but nevertheless the preceding sentence is at least technically true.)
Is there anything positive to come out of this whole debacle for the Rams?
What’s the old Oscar Wilde saying about the only worse thing than being talked about? Since the move to Los Angeles, the Rams have been rather anonymous, which is quite a feat considering that they made the Super Bowl just last year (although, given everything that’s happened since, it does feel like decades ago). While playing in a new stadium may change their fortunes, they have had issues with opposing teams’ fans crowding out their own. For one day, they were the biggest topic in sports. So what if it wasn’t for anything football related? At this point, they’ll take it.