The Denver Nuggets were founded as a charter member of the American Basketball Association in 1967 as the Denver Larks but changed their name to the Denver Rockets before the ABA’s inaugural season. In 1974, the team rebranded as the Denver Nuggets, keeping that identity when they and three other teams joined the NBA as part of the 1976 ABA-NBA merger.
The team continued to use their original logo during their first four NBA seasons before introducing a their famous rainbow skyline logo and uniform design in 1981. The team has undergone numerous color scheme changes over the years but have generally included some form of blue and yellow in their color palette.
The current primary logo template has been in use since 1993, undergoing one major and one minor color update since. The current powder blue-and-yellow color scheme was introduced in 2003.
The current primary logo, which was introduced in 2008, is a recolored version of the logo template first introduced in 1993. It features a navy blue snowcapped mountain, with ‘Denver’ written in white across a powder blue banner, with a stylized ‘Nuggets’ wordmark in yellow below. The design is simple and well-balanced in terms of color and layout. The central arched portion of the wordmark complements the slope of the mountain. The powder blue outline around the bottom of the letters which, paired with the navy fill between the letters, creates a subtle 3D effect. Unfortunately, this clever element does not fit with the overall flat nature of the design. The seldom used partial primary logo is the snowcapped mountain peak used on its own.
The alternate logo is a powder blue circle outlined in yellow and navy, containing a crossed pair of yellow pickaxes, with a mountain peak at the top and the outline of a basketball below. The design is simple and generally well-balanced, although the dark shadow lines in the basketball create a distracting three-dimensional effect which conflicts with the otherwise flat design.
The Nuggets’ current home and road uniform template was introduced in 2003. The current alternate uniform template was introduced in 2012. The wordmark, player number and trim on all three uniforms were updated in 2015.
The white home uniform has powder blue side panels with a yellow stripe running down the side while the road uniform reverses the blue and white. Both uniforms have a yellow wordmark with the player number in navy centered below. The pickaxe alternate logo appears on both sides at the bottom of the shorts. The uniforms are simple, modern and generally well-balanced in terms of color and design but lack any memorable features.
The yellow alternate uniform is a modern update of the popular rainbow skyline uniforms worn by the Nuggets from 1982-1993. A row of stripes across the chest is broken up by a white mountain range, with cutouts leaving the impression of an urban center which represents the city of Denver. The player number is displayed above and to the right of the design. In keeping with the throwback nature of the design, the jersey uses the era-appropriate logo wordmark. The rainbow striping is repeated on the shorts.
The ‘Nuggets’ nickname references the discovery of gold in Denver in the late 1850’s which led to a gold rush in the area that would later become the state of Colorado. The golden yellow accent color is a nod to that history, however the powder blue color holds no particular significance.
While the Nuggets are one of 13 teams whose primary road uniform is blue, they are the only team whose primary color is light blue, but are one of five (along with the Warriors, Pacers, Jazz and Grizzlies) to wear a blue-and-yellow uniform.
The Nuggets get credit for originating—and recently reviving—the skyline design that became the inspiration for the Mavericks’ fan-designed alternate jersey (announced in 2014, first worn in 2015) and similarly inspired the Cavaliers’ court design introduced in 2014.
The Nuggets’ use of colors and logos is generally consistent, however the wordmarks currently used on the home and road jerseys are rendered in a typeface different from the logo wordmark. The use of an old wordmark on a throwback design alternate uniform would ordinarily be acceptable but the Nuggets lose points in this case because their 2015 update replaced the wordmarks on all three jerseys which had used the same typeface as the primary logo.
Points to Improve
- Improve consistency by updating the logo to incorporate the typeface currently being used on the home and road uniforms.
NBA Branding Assessment Ranking
All writings contained herein are copyright ©2015 Brian F. Sanford. All intellectual property including but not limited to names, logos and uniforms are properties of the National Basketball Association, its member teams, ownership groups and/or organizations. All images are used for noncommercial educational purposes. No copyright infringement is intended.