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The Carolina Panthers, a team, which entered the NFL in 1995 as an expansion to the NFL, has re-branded their logo since their inception. The logo first leaked on The Panther’s Facebook page and made its debut at the Pro Bowl on a commercial for Vapor Jet Gloves by Nike.

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The revision of the logo correlates with Nike replacing Reebok as their official apparel provider beginning this 2012 season. Carolina Panthers President Danny Morison said “We have one of the finest and most recognizable logos in the NFL and wanted to make it as modern as possible without losing the dramatic essence of the mark.”

The N.F.L. said Tuesday that Nike would become the league’s exclusive maker of licensed on-field apparel including uniforms, clothing worn on the sidelines and fan gear. Nike replaces Reebok, whose agreement is expiring.

Terms of the deal were not announced. But the league said its contract with Nike was for five years and would begin in April 2012. Reebok has a 10-year contract with the N.F.L. that was originally worth at least $250 million to the league.

Nike and Reebok are the two largest players in the sports-apparel market, and they have battled to secure licensing deals with various professional leagues and top players in tennis, golf and other sports.

The deals to secure the licensing rights with the leagues are expensive. But they often pay for themselves because professional athletes are so ubiquitous that they effectively are billboards for the apparel makers who actively market high-performance gear to consumers.

“It’s another opportunity to put the swoosh on world-class athletes, and that’s what they’re all about, and it’s how they’ve operated for a long time,” said Matt Arnold, a consumer analyst at Edward Jones & Company in St. Louis
- New York Times

The previous wordmark, which was unveiled in the 90’s, was reminiscent of an 80’s city slicker movie or the old Jaguar video game system. Also the typography did not marry well with the icon either causing an annoying contrast between the two. The top and bottom use of the 2 words didn’t work well with the icon in between forcing you to read out “Carolina” then the icon then followed by “Panthers”.

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The new type is a generic italic serif font in all caps that is not bad, but could use more excitement. The “scratch marks” within the lettering help to give it character and can be translated elsewhere in the application process giving it more integrity. Although, the symmetry and sharp lines suggest that these also may be whiskers.

The icon is essentially the same as the previous one, keeping the same shape and overall angle of the Panther’s face. Upon first glance, there is barely a noticeable change until you view the previous icon. The new face has sleek lines and more breathing room between the features on the face. It’s now a more intimidating cat. The old icon was much more rough and had a stronger jaw line and fangs whereas the new one feels smoother in this sense.

The only real downside to this icon in my opinion lies in the Panther’s eyes. Yes, the angle of the head would insinuate that the left eye should be further away than the other one, but the proportion just seems a little off as if one eye is squinting or the mascot has a clear case of lazy eye.

This will also be supported by a uniform upgrade. The team hasn’t updated their uniform since their first game except for a Tar-Heel Blue jersey that was unveiled in 2002 and quickly became a fan favorite.

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All in all, this is a good re-brand and a refreshing new look for a fairly new team in the NFL. This move will result in fan excitement and more apparel and merchandise sales.

Watch the Panther’s Logo Evolution