Since this is my first time writing for Lacrosse All Stars, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself. My name is Neil Barrett. For the last seven years, I have been known on the internet as Cardinal Lacrosse, or the newly renamed, Cardinal Designs. I am a graphic designer who has played lacrosse for over twenty years. I love talking about the game, especially as it relates to design. I am routinely discussing logos, uniforms, and gear to anyone who will listen.
One of my favorite things about design is that everyone has their own opinion — no one is wrong because it’s an artistic interpretation. But just like on the field, some moves can be bad. So when it comes to NLL logos, I find they tend to fall into one of three categories: bad, meh, or great.
- Bad Logos: Generally need major changes, if not to be scrapped and redone from scratch.
- Meh Logos: Are just that, meh. They have gotten the basics down, but lack anything that truly separates them from the pack. (Most logos in most leagues, no matter the sport, fall into this category. It’s far better for your brand to be a bit bland than to take a giant swing and miss)
- Great Logos: Do everything well. They took some chances and established their own identity in a way that just works.
Here is how I would rank every NLL logo from worst to first.
15) Albany Firewolves
The craziest part of this logo is that it’s the worst in the league, AND it’s actually an improvement over the original logo the club released that thankfully never saw the field. This version is overly busy, the mascot is somehow bland AND overdone, and the bad font is made worse with the drop shadow. Nothing about it works on any level.
14) New York Riptide
With this name and color scheme giving you visions of Kyle Harrison and Chazz Woodson dodging defenders in LA, you wouldn’t expect to be this disappointed. The wordmark is solid, albeit a tad boring, but everything else is cheap and cheesy. I get what they were going for with the “riptide” motion, but I can only see a lacrosse stick being thrown across the turf.
13) Saskatchewan Rush
The Rush logo is just bad. There is no way around it. It feels like an early 2000’s tribal tattoo that the wearer now regrets but is stuck with. The wordmark is unbalanced and hard to read, the drop shadows are outdated and unnecessary, and “lacrosse club” makes a weird shape even weirder. It feels more like an under-13 summer team than one of the better franchises in the NLL.
12) Buffalo Bandits
I need you to remember how we talked about no one being wrong in design because this iswhere I am going to lose some of y’all. I know this is an “iconic” logo in the league, but from a logo standpoint, there is a lot to be desired. The whole thing feels very 90’s and not in the fun retro way. The wordmark is ok, but the purple is too saturated. And the grey mask on the bandit doesn’t make sense because grey isn’t one of the team’s colors. The good news is that they have an extremely easy fix, and that is just to dump this logo altogether and go back to the old logo they still use on their uniforms.
11) Toronto Rock
If I didn’t lose you on the Bandits, I probably lost you here. I have the Rock above the Bandits because their logo at least works on their current uniforms. I also think you could make a couple of tweaks, namely removing the ‘80s heavy metal “chrome” color gradient on the wordmark and the drop shadow on the maple leaf, and be in a pretty good place.
10) Las Vegas Desert Dogs
The new boys enter the league with a resounding, meh. It feels like someone in the Vegas front office described the Arizona Coyotes kachina logo to a designer who had never seen it and asked him to recreate it. There isn’t anything bad here, but there is nothing particularly good, either. It’s such a disappointment that a team from Las Vegas that carries the name Desert Dogs, couldn’t come up with a better color scheme than black and white. The “LV” on the forehead is unnecessary, it literally says Las Vegas just below it, and is easily misread as just an “L” on the forehead, and some points have to be removed for the stereotypical crossed lacrosse sticks in the background.
9) Calgary Roughnecks
When a team sells its soul for a sponsorship deal, you would expect to be disappointed. The Roughnecks took a huge step back in the uniform department, but actually made some strides logowise. Removing the mountain backdrop and the ’90s era gradients cleaned up the logo substantially. But it would still be better with the red and maybe an oil derrick or two.
8) Georgia Swarm
The Swarm moved their original “S” logo to a secondary logo and created this much cleaner wordmark design. The result is some how better and worse. Its cleaner, but also lacking in personality. No surprise this is in the middle of the pack because it is the most, meh logo in the NLL.
7) Philadelphia Wings
I really want to love the Wings logo. I feel like there is a really good idea here that just wasn’t quite executed properly. They don’t use the colors well and for a reason that I can’t exactly put my finger on, it feels flat, but also busy. I don’t know where they want me to look. It seems to me that you could cut out half the things in this logo and end up with something much stronger.
6) Vancouver Warriors
The Warriors logo is one of the more divisive logos in the league. People seem to either really like it, or really hate it. I happen to be one of the people who likes it. It’s simple, it’s strong, and it uses the color scheme well. It also looks great on the jerseys and helmets. The only thing really holding it back is that it lacks anything really daring. I would love to see them take another crack at this to see what they could come up with.
5) Rochester Knighthawks
Nowadays, when people rank the Knighthawks logo’s it’s almost always in comparison to the iconic old NLL logo and color scheme. But this is a new team with different owners trying to forge their own path, so I think its important to take these logos as they are, without comparison, and what they are are really really solid logos. I think the Knighthawks might just have my favorite combo between primary and secondary logos in the entire league. That being said, I would love to see them switch the primary and secondary. Make the hawk logo their main logo and move the winged “R” to secondary. I also wish they made better use of the color scheme, the tan/olive/black has some real potential, but they focus almost entirely on olive/black.
4) Panther City Lacrosse Club
PCLC nearly nailed their logo when they entered the league. The colors, the nods to local Spanish colonial architecture, and the lone star representing all of Texas show how much thought and effort went into crafting the identity of this franchise. I have two, relatively minor, tweaks to what is a very good logo. First, something to really accentuate the panther. Maybe that is color variations, or an outline, I don’t know. But it needs something to make it stand out a little more. I know the idea was that its a panther stalking prey, but it just feels a little lost in the overall design. Secondly, eliminate the mustache.
3) San Diego Seals
The Seals have a fantastic logo. Everything is simple and clean without being dull. The crown was a perfect addition and lent itself beautifully to the Seals helmets. I love the wordmark, it fits with the logo so well. There isn’t really much else to say about this logo. Well done San Diego!
2) Colorado Mammoth
This logo is incredible. For something designed in 2001, this thing still stands up, and probably will for the next twenty years. I should probably make it No.1 based solely on its timelessness and the fact that it will probably out live every other logo in the NLL, however…
1) Halifax Thunderbirds
Leaving behind one of the most iconic designs in league history and trying to make a new brand for a new team, you could have forgiven Halifax if they had made a few missteps. Instead, they created something equally as iconic. It’s modern, its bold, and everything works on it. This is perfect modern logo design and fits perfectly in the NLL.