The Indiana Pacers were founded as a charter member of the American Basketball Association in 1967 and are based in Indianapolis. The franchise became one of four teams to enter the NBA through the 1976 ABA-NBA merger. The Pacers were the most successful franchise in ABA history, winning three ABA championships, however they have never won an NBA championship.
The Pacers have maintained a fairly consistent look throughout the franchise’s history with only minor adjustments to their look. The team has always employed a blue-and-yellow color scheme. With a few exceptions the Pacers have generally worn ‘Indiana’ on their road uniforms and ‘Pacers’ on their home uniforms. The team’s most recognizable look were the Flo-Jo uniforms worn from 1990 to 1997, so-called because they were designed by track and field star Florence Griffith Joyner and featured a broad white and yellow side panel on the right side of the jersey and shorts reminiscent of the flashy outfits she designed and wore herself.
The team’s current visual identity, which added silver to the color palette, was introduced in 2005.
The current primary logo, which was introduced in 2005, is a slightly recolored version of the logo design that was introduced in 1990, which itself was based on the Pacers’ original hand-and-ball logo. The current version is a golden yellow ball with streaks coming off to the left inside a navy blue P, outlined in silver, with the ‘Pacers’ wordmark in the lower right corner. The offset angle and streaks give the impression of forward momentum. The design is simple, modern and well-balanced, but somewhat lacking in total integration in that the ‘P’ logo is not paired with the other letters to spell out the team name and the typeface does not match the shape of the logo. Rather, the logo stands alone and the entire ‘Pacers’ wordmark is repeated next to it. The partial primary logo is the P design without the wordmark.
The alternate logo is a yellow roundel outlined in blue and silver with ‘Indiana’ at the top and ‘Pacers’ at the bottom with the ‘P’ logo inside, over a white background. This design is used on the team’s home court. The slanted nature of the ‘P’ logo is an awkward fit for the inside of a circle.
The Pacers’ current home and road uniforms were introduced in 2005 while the alternate uniform was introduced in 2007.
The white home uniform has ‘Pacers’ and the player number centered blow it in navy blue and outlined in yellow, with yellow side panels and blue trim. The navy road uniform has ‘Indiana’ and the player number in white, outlined in yellow, with matching blue side panels and yellow trim. The yellow alternate uniform has the ‘Indiana’ wordmark and player number in navy, outlined in silver, with matching yellow side panels and navy trim. The alternate roundel logo appears at the bottom of each side of the shorts.
The template is clean, simple and modern and generally well-balanced in terms of color and layout. All of the uniforms feature wide side panels which taper at the top and bottom, a motif which perfectly matches the mitered wishbone collar design. The tapering at the top and bottom of the side is reminiscent of the NACA duct, or submerged inlet, often found on race cars.
The Pacers get a perfect score for relevancy. The racing-themed ‘Pacers’ nickname is perfect for a team located in Indiana, with its long history of horse and auto racing. The nickname is an homage to both harness racing pacers as well as the pace car in auto racing events such as the Indianapolis 500, which is the largest single-day sporting event in the world. The navy-and-yellow color scheme matches the flag of the state of Indiana.
The Pacers are one of 13 teams whose primary road uniform is blue, and one of four teams (along with the Jazz, Grizzlies and Pelicans) whose primary color is dark blue as well as one of five (along with the Warriors, Nuggets, Jazz and Grizzlies) to wear a blue-and-yellow uniform.
The Pacers are the only team in professional sports team named after a different sport.
The Indiana Pacers are one of only three NBA teams (along with Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves) to use a state rather than a city name as their geographical indicator.
The Pacers’ visual identity is generally consistent. The upper case wordmark from the alternate logo appears on the jerseys rather than the mostly lowercase font used on the primary logo. However, the typeface does not match the style of the ‘P’ logo.
The Pacers lose some points for their inconsistent use of the color yellow. The alternate uniforms are a deeper shade of golden-yellow, while the alternate logo that appears on their court is much lighter.
Points to Improve
- Update the primary logo to include the ‘P’ logo as the first letter of the ‘Pacers’ wordmark and use this wordmark on the uniform.
- Commission a custom typeface that matches and can be used alongside the ‘P’ logo for all lettering applications. The NASCAR-like jersey number typeface and placement from the Heat uniforms would work better on the Pacers uniforms.
- Introduce a sublimated checkered flag pattern on the side panels similar to, but more subtle than the Bobcats’ old to highlight the nickname’s association with auto racing.
NBA Branding Assessment Ranking
Special thanks to Chris Creamer (sportslogos.net) for the logo and uniform images.
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.