Each Race Should Have Its Own Personality
One thing that I always liked about the Super Bowl was the way they would always come up with a unique logo for each year. The Indianapolis 500 has done the same since 1980. Every single year is unique, although some are better than others.
Sometimes, the Super Bowl logo had a tie-in for whatever city was hosting the game that year. You know the drill – if the game was played in Pasadena, a rose might be incorporated into the logo to symbolize playing in the Rose Bowl. The Jacksonville Super Bowl after the 2004 season had a bridge spanning the St. John’s River in the design of the logo. The logo for the Big Game in New Orleans might feature something to do with Mardi Gras. Whether or not there was a symbol of the city or area, each logo was unique for that individual year.
That all changed in 2010, when the NFL followed the direction of a consulting group. The consultants said that the NFL should standardize the Super Bowl logo for each year so that the fans won’t be confused and the NFL can focus on the same logo becoming a brand. Now instead of unique and colorful logos that might highlight something specific to a region, the NFL has chosen the generic approach of having the same bland silver replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy (one of the uglier trophies in sports) against a plain background, with Roman numerals underneath. Talk about boring.
This is what happens when you listen to consulting groups. Individuality or personality never factors into their decisions. It’s all about the bottom line, under the guise of focusing on the brand. When IndyCar paid the Boston Consulting Group $1 million to examine everything that IndyCar and IMS did and didn’t do – there was nothing left protected. Some of their suggestions were followed and implemented, while others were ignored or rejected.
I never heard or read anything about their thoughts on continuing the practice of a new logo for each and every event held at IMS, but fortunately – it looks as if that practice is safe. Whether it is the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400, the US Grand Prix, the MotoGP race or this season’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis – each year’s edition of each race has had its separate logo. It can’t be cheap, but it is a practice that I think sets events at IMS apart from events at any other track. The logo for each event is everywhere. It is on the TV graphics, the tickets, merchandise, the top of the scoring tower and the starter’s flag stand.
As with anything, some of the Indianapolis 500 logos have been better than others. One of my all-time favorites was the logo for the Centennial race in 2011. Unfortunately, that one was followed up by one of the ugliest in 2012. That bothers me because that is the logo associated with the year that Susan and I married at IMS on Qualifying weekend that year. I really liked last year’s logo and I like the one for this year too. In fact, both logos for this upcoming month of May are attractive – the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 2014 Indianapolis 500.
Here are some more of my favorites over the years.
Keep in mind, I’m judging the logos and not that year’s race. The 1991 race, when Rick Mears passed Michael Andretti on the outside for the win, was one of my favorites. However, the logo symbolizing the seventy-fifth running was rather lame. Here is that logo with some others that have been my least favorites.
Favorites or not, it’s good to be able to identity each logo with a specific race. Can I quickly identify each one they’ve had and tell you which race it goes to? No, but I can some.
So, while watching the Super Bowl and its bland logo on the field and on all promotional items, be glad that the Indianapolis 500 has not succumbed to such a homogenous look. It is my hope that Mark Miles, Jeff Belskus and Doug Boles all maintain the tradition of paying to design a separate and individual logo for each race. It adds to the personality of that year and helps to quickly identify it. And it gives much more color and flavor to each event – just like the Super Bowl logos used to do, before they went so generic.