(By Kamilah Benjamin for Siegel+Gale's "Thoughts that Inspire" blog, May 4, 2012)
I live in Brooklyn, in a tree-lined residential neighborhood of Clinton Hill. And not too far from me, if I squint my eyes, I can see the glistening reflection of the glass construction around the new Barclays Center on Flatbush and Atlantic. There was a lot of controversy and complaints around the building of this massive arena in the already traffic-overrun neighborhood. Yet even the residents who resist the new construction perhaps secretly wonder and maybe even hope of a new “Duke of Flatbush” to represent the borough.
The new mark initially underwhelms the designer in me. But despite this, my gut reaction—my fan reaction, my Brooklynite reaction—to the new logo is excitement.
Black. White. Bold. Minimal. Nostalgic. Yes, there are some technical problems—for example, the typography is weak and there is a lack of attention to the meshing of the elements. But the fact that it is not overlaid with superficial graphics, gradients or other visual noise makes it pure, no-nonsense Brooklyn. I applaud this simple, straightforward approach. It is a brave step for any NBA organization.
The Brooklyn Nets will be the only team to sport a complete black-and-white-only color scheme. It sets them apart from all their competitors. Nets CEO Brett Yormark calls this, "The new badge for Brooklyn." And Jay-Z, inspired by Brooklyn’s subway and old-school signage, commented that “the boldness of the design demonstrates the confidence we have in our new direction.”
Gone is the typical mascot approach, replaced with a conscious visual nod to Brooklyn’s storied hip-hop history. For instance, all the merchandise references Brooklyn native rappers such as Notorious B.I.G and the Beastie Boys. And since Brooklyn hasn’t housed a major sports team since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles after the 1957 season, the new Nets logo stands for the long history and energy of a reborn borough—truly a great metropolis unto itself.
As a designer, I confess I have some reservations, but they are far outweighed by the raw power and in-your-face realness. It represents what Brooklyn is famed to be and of the way basketball is meant to be played.