Plugged In: Dan Simon, Studio Simon
Dan Simon isn’t a household name, but his design work is some of the most widely recognized in the sports industry. Simon, the head of Louisville-based Studio Simon, has developed an array of team and event logos, particularly in Minor League Baseball and hockey, and designed two Super Bowl logos. He also has created the official Baseball Winter Meetings logo for many years, and recently completed a widely acclaimed rebranding for the Class AAA Memphis Redbirds that tied the team into the city’s historic Beale Street music scene.
“Good design still matters.”
On the collaborative design process: Everything about that artwork has been described to me by the client, often times without them realizing they have even done so. I have to be good at not just asking questions, but the right questions, and I have to be an even better listener. I am a translator who takes their words and turns them into creative solutions. This ensures that the finished product reflects their vision, not a preconceived idea on my part of what they need.
On the surging interest in sports logos and brands: People love this stuff. It was already important. It’s just that social media has helped to show the extent of the passion fans have for sports branding. Through all of the various platforms, logo news can now be disseminated by teams without the constraints of traditional media, with a reach that’s almost boundless, so there are more opportunities for enthusiasts to get their fix. Fans can weigh in immediately, and be heard just as quickly.
On the core tenets of a successful logo or brand: The most important thing is that it immediately resonates with its intended audience. From a logo standpoint specifically, less is more. It must look as good when it is scaled down to the size of a dime and viewed on a smartphone as it does when it is blown up and installed on the side of a stadium. If it’s an identity system with multiple elements, everything must be cohesive and consistent throughout.
On the accelerating shift to more outlandish team names in Minor League Baseball: Quirky, offbeat and unexpected is part of the minor league experience, and it is great when team names and logos reflect that. Inevitably, however, the can-you-top-this approach goes too far, which was in evidence this offseason. And the result was that, in the eyes of many, it made minor league baseball look like a joke. Just as outlandish behavior will always get attention, so did these names, but it was the wrong kind of attention. After the initial, did-you-see-that moment passes, these teams are left with having alienated a wide swath of their fan base.