Hate to say I told you so but… didn’t I say you’d love it?

Never in my fifteen years of running SportsLogos.Net have I ever witnessed such an overwhelmingly positive response to a team unveiling their new branding. On the heels of a not-so-positive response to recent rebrands such as the Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres, the Toronto Blue Jays have unveiled what seems to be a critical success. Logos and Blue Jays fans alike can celebrate a positive response to a rebrand and look forward to seeing the new look on the field in 2012.

A "word cloud" showing the most commonly used words to describe the new Blue Jays logos on SportsLogos.Net

To give you an idea of just how positive the response has been for the new set, of the nearly 13,000 different sports logos being rated by users from around the world on SportsLogos.Net, various elements of the Blue Jays new graphics package rank first, second, and seventh overall. Of the 5000 different uniforms on the site all four of the new Jays uniforms place within the top 10, including being in possession of the top 2 spots.

The top 5 user rated logos on SportsLogos.Net as of last night: #1 Toronto Blue Jays primary logo, #2 Toronto Blue Jays alternate logo, #3 Baltimore Orioles cap logo, #4 Washington Wizards alternate logo, #5 2012 MLB All-Star Game logo

That graphic you see a little higher in this article (click here to see it full sized) is a word cloud showcasing the most commonly used words by users of SportsLogos.Net to describe their thoughts on the new Blue Jays logo set. “Love”, “beautiful”, “classic”, “awesome”, just a sampling of the nearly unanimous positive feedback to this new set.

The universal love for this new package is owed to an extensive process launched by team president Paul Beeston who has said this was a re-branding over two years in the making and provided all sorts of other fun facts during an interview on Sportsnet Radio last week.

“A lot of thought, a lot of effort, a lot of time takes us back to where we want to be, representing who we want to represent, and that is Canada. We wanted to get back to the colour blue, we are the ‘Blue Jays’”.

When Beeston re-joined the club prior to the 2009 season he was not a fan of how the club looked, not just their performance but literally how they looked. There was no blue, there was no maple leaf. Something he felt he had to change but due to Major League Baseball licensing agreements could not do anything major to the marketing materials and official club branding.

“So I called New York and said we’re putting the maple leaf on our sleeve, they said ‘well you can’t do that’ and I said ‘well you better come opening day ’cause it’s gonna be on there and you’re gonna have to take it off!’”

The maple leaf adorned the sleeve of the Blue Jays three main uniforms throughout the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons but that wasn’t enough for Paul.

“We put the maple leaf on the sleeve which actually looked pretty good. Problem was it wasn’t a part of any of our collateral material, it was only on the uniform”

Problem solved.

The maple leaf is featured prominently on every official logo, uniform and cap in the new style guide, from the primary logo right down to the various wordmark/script logos the leaf is there. The blue is there. The history is there.

“Nobody got absolutely everything that they wanted but everyone was in agreement about what the elements should be and that is the split lettering, the maple leaf and going back to the colour blue”

The split-lettering, an element of the uniform not many knew they loved until it was no longer there, appeared in two different incarnations from the opening season in 1977 up until the end of the 2003 season, has returned along with the new set.

Paul also revealed that the team tried to go with a split-lettered ‘T’ cap to use instead of the blue jay bird cap they ended up with, but “it just didn’t look right so we couldn’t do it”.

What a split-lettered cap could have looked like, I prefer the jay logo on the left

I’m glad they didn’t. It wouldn’t have been the same.

This set isn’t completely perfect, in my opinion at least, there are some faults minor as they may be.

I wish they would have included the baseball in the logo on the cap and/or the uniform, this would have completed the homage to the 1989-1996 set. Yes, I know there’s a Major League Baseball rule prohibiting this from happening but it’s not enforced, the Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers have both introduced alternates in recent seasons that featured a baseball on both the uniforms and caps. When contacted about the reason why they did not go with the baseball on these elements the Jays responded saying they wanted the cap and jersey logos to match and the baseball-less one just looked that much better.

Taking a look at the Blue Jays baseball logo on the home jersey on the right to the actual jersey on the left, the original uniforms these were based upon featured the baseball - does it look better this way or the other way?

The ‘TORONTO’ wordmark on the road jersey, why-oh-why does it have a dark navy blue outline around the letters across the front? This is the only jersey of the set to do this and it looks really bad compared to the other jerseys when viewed up close in person. The numbering on the back of the jersey lacks this unnecessary outline and looks quite good in the process. Hopefully this is one minor change that can happen in the coming seasons.

Actual road jersey on left, my tweak on the right removes the dark outline around "TORONTO"

The non-split lettering for ‘TORONTO’ on the primary logo, this doesn’t bother me that much but a lot of people are annoyed by this. I bandied about a few theories in my head, such as perhaps they wanted the focus more on Canada and the maple leaf over the city of Toronto but the official reason the team gave me is that it just looked a lot cleaner with TORONTO in solid lettering. Hard to argue with that.

Does a split-letter font for "TORONTO" look better? I'm not convinced

Ultimately I’m a big fan of this new look, so much so that I drove two hours down to the Rogers Centre and spent a fair sum of money on merchandise featuring the new look that Friday night. Really, it’s what a logo and uniform change should be: a tweak or modernization of a look that resonates deeply with their fans. Looking at the logos over the years of the Original Six hockey clubs, these teams have all tweaked and modernized the same logo and uniform concept several times over the better part of a century and they’re constantly ranked amongst the best looking clubs in sports.

With their “Logo for Life” motto during the unveiling it sounds like the Blue Jays have come around and embraced this idea of tweaking what works periodically only to keep it fresh, no more radical rebrands, no more messing about with the colour scheme. This has always been our “Logo for Life”, now it’s just official. Good job Jays.

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