The Warriors franchise was established as the Philadelphia Warriors in 1946 as part of the Basketball Association of America (BAA), which merged in 1949 with the National Basketball League (NBL) to form the present-day NBA. The Warriors are one of only three franchises that remain from the beginning of that era, along with the Celtics and Knicks. The franchise relocated to San Francisco in 1962 where they became the San Francisco Warriors. The organization changed its geographic indicator after the team began playing most, then later, all of its home games in Oakland and became the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have won four NBA championships, with the first two coming in Philadelphia—including the BAA’s inaugural season title in 1947—and the latter two in Oakland. The team is set to move to a new arena in San Francisco in 2018 and there has been speculation that the a rebrand might be in the works.
The Warriors have maintained a fairly consistent look during their time in California, predominantly outfitting their players in darker or more standard shades of blue, usually with yellow trim. The team wore yellow uniforms at home throughout most of the 70’s and into the early 80’s. A recurring theme of the Warriors’ design has been to include the player number inside the team logo on the front of the jersey.
The Warriors introduced their current visual identity in 2010.
The primary logo is a modern interpretation on the team’s classic ‘The City’ logo which featured the Golden Gate Bridge inside of a yellow circle. The current logo depicts the eastern portion of the Bay Bridge in yellow inside of a blue circle with a yellow outline which is slightly offset towards the top. ‘Golden State’ appears above and ‘Warriors’ below the circle. The asymmetrical depiction leaves room in the upper right portion of the circle for the player number on the jersey. The partial logo removes the wordmarks but adds white lines above the bridge to form a basketball, disrupting the smooth simplicity of the original design. The overall design is clean, modern, well-balanced in terms of color and layout and effectively conveys the team’s geographic location. While the offset yellow outline helps to balance the smaller ‘Golden State’ wordmark at the top with the larger ‘Warriors’ wordmark at the bottom, the design solution looks unbalanced when used independently of the wordmarks, as is the case with the partial primary and secondary logos. The current logo is a major upgrade over the organization’s previous logo depicting a bizarre comic book superhero ‘warrior’.
The Warriors have two secondary logos. The main secondary logo, which was introduced in 2014, features the W from the ‘Warriors’ wordmark in white, outlined in blue and yellow inside the same blue circle as the primary with the same offset yellow outline. The other secondary logo features the letters S and F along with ‘Est. 1962’ at the bottom. This logo, originally introduced in 2010, was updated in 2014 to replace most of the blue portions with ‘slate’ gray to match the team’s new alternate uniform. Both of the logos are relatively clean and simple but lack any particular visual appeal.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
The Warriors’ official typeface is Copperplate. The player numbers are rendered in a variant of Copperplate.
The current uniforms revive a design element used on the team’s jerseys from 1971-89 where the player’s number is included inside the primary logo on the front. The white home uniform uses a predominantly blue logo with the player number in yellow on the front and blue on the back; the trim is yellow and blue. The blue road uniform uses a yellow logo with the player number in blue on the front and yellow on the back; the trim is white and yellow. The pair of stripes that run the length of the sides connect at the bottom of the shorts with the curved pinstripes, evoking the bridge design from the primary logo. This clever aspect of the design is tastefully done, not over the top, nor distracting. The uniforms are modern and well-balanced in terms of color and layout.
Since 2012, the Warriors have served as something of a test platform for Adidas’ sleeved jersey initiative, wearing a different alternate uniform each season. In the 2012-2013 season, the team wore a yellow uniform featuring a white outline of their primary logo, with an offset player number and the ‘Warriors’ wordmark displayed in a similar fashion to the team’s jerseys from 1989-97. The shorts had blue pinstripes and white side stripes that tapered to a blue triangle with a yellow W at the bottom. In 2013, the team wore sleeved versions of their home uniforms at various times throughout the season. And starting in 2014, the team begun wearing ‘slate gray’ sleeved uniforms on Saturday home games, again featuring the white primary logo outline, however this time without any wordmark, but with the player number inside.
Neither the ‘Warriors’ nickname nor the blue-and-yellow color scheme hold any particular significance for the the state of California. While the logo, which features the Bay Bridge that connects San Francisco and Oakland serves as a good metaphor for a team representing the Bay Area, it is completely unrelated to the ‘Warriors’ nickname. The Warriors’ current secondary ‘SF’ logo representing San Francisco is particularly odd since the the team still plays in Oakland. Given that the move to San Francisco is a few years away the logo feels, at best, premature.
The aforementioned design element including the bridge from the logo in the design of the shorts brings a level of design integration unrivaled by any other team.
The Copperplate typeface is most associated with banks and law offices and is a peculiar choice for rendering the ‘Warriors’ nickname.
The Warriors are the only NBA team to display their entire primary logo on the front of their jerseys and as such are also the only team to have both their geographic indicator and nickname on their jersey.
The Warriors are one of 13 teams whose primary road uniform is blue, and one of five (along with the Nuggets, Pacers, Jazz and Grizzlies) to wear a blue-and-yellow uniform. However, the Warriors get credit for being the first of the three to adopt that look.
The team is the only franchise to use a state nickname rather than a state or city name as its geographic indicator. However, as the state is also home to the Lakers, Clippers and Kings, perhaps the regional ‘Bay Area’ nickname would better fit a team that represents the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.
The Warriors’ use of Copperplate, a typeface readily available to anyone who owns a computer, diminishes the uniqueness of the brand.
The Warriors get a mixed grade for consistency. While the use of logos and typeface is generally consistent, the organization’s addition in 2014 of ‘slate gray’ to the color scheme diminished what had been an otherwise consistent branding execution. Before the change, all four of the team’s logos were the same mix of blue, yellow and white. Now, while one of them is predominantly black, the others do not include the color at all. The introduction of the ‘slate gray’ uniform also stands out because, while it includes white, blue and yellow trim, neither of the other two uniforms feature ‘slate gray’ as a trim color.
Points to Improve
- Remove ‘slate gray’ from the color scheme to restore brand consistency.
- Choose or commission a more unique typeface that better fits with the overall design aesthetic of the team’s branding.
- Resize the wordmarks around the primary logo and center the yellow bridge design in the blue circle to improve the overall layout balance.
- There has been speculation that the team could return to the ‘San Francisco Warriors’ name when they move to their new stadium in 2018. In that event, redesigning the logo to incorporate the Golden Gate Bridge and changing color scheme to gold and maroon (technically ‘international orange’) would increase the franchise’s branding relevancy.
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.