There are few things I love more than or equal to typography but hockey is certainly a contender. I came across Kevin Zwirble during the playoffs this past season and while I was crossing my fingers his beloved Bruins would lose to my dear Blackhawks, I was also hoping they’d adopt some of his stellar design concepts for the team.
Using simple logos and customized or manipulated typography, Zwirble has created dynamic fan gear with modern flair. The Bruins branding is actually some of the better that I’ve seen but with most sports branding, I tend to feel even the really good could be better. Zwirble’s version of the bear is intimidating and dramatic but not overly busy. It’s clean and while you can’t get rid of the spoked-B, Zwirble’s bear logo would make for an awesome alternate jersey.
Sports design is an interesting topic to touch on because the logos are not only national, iconic and symbols of intense loyalty, they’re sometimes very rooted in tradition. Some teams update their brand every decade or few decades (e.g. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) while others stick very close to their roots having little variation (e.g. The New York Yankees.) And when a team rebrands, they’ve got to live with it for at least a season or two, no matter how bad (e.g. The Phoenix Coyotes, now thankfully retired, alternate jersey from 1998-2003.)
Zwirble, a designer for the National Conference Services, Inc. (NCSI), started doing his Bruins rebranding after making a Facebook cover photo tribute to Gregory Campbell, a Bruins player who broke his leg and continued to play. Zwirble then used the project as a daily exploration in type.
He said he picks a variation of typefaces to stay current but I think some of his choices are trendy but also timeless. I don’t see the type in his Johnny Boychuck design with it’s very subtle and stylish inlines looking outdated anytime soon. The type is bold and assertive which is an important factor with an sort of athletic design. Zwirble said his favorite typefaces at the moment are Duke by James T. Edmondson and Sullivan by Jason Mark Jones. But he’s also a fan of display faces from H&FJ like Knockout, Champion Gothic, and Verlag.
He was no stranger to sports logos before his started designing Bruins fan gear. Zwirble’s first introduction to graphic design was in 4th grade when he read about how the Milwaukee Brewers logo was designed.
“I would draw my favorite athletes, team logos, and would even make up teams so I could come up with logos for them. They all sucked but I was like 10, so what do you expect?” Zwirble said.
Zwirble has branched out beyond his Bruins work in terms of sports design and has gotten a few commissions from several college athletic departments so hopefully we’ll be seeing more of his athletic work. He is starting a website, Beast of The Northeast that has yet to launch. He said he hopes his designs will help hockey, and more specifically the Bruins, gain more fans.