We've been in the jersey business since 2014. Here's what we've learned about designing hockey logos.
Examples of products we've created for hockey teams across Canada and the United States
We’ve seen some amazing logos, good logos, some plain logos, some ugly logos, some pug-fugly logos, and yes, even some ugly, ugly logos since our inception in 2014.
Now to avoid insulting our valued customers, we’ll refrain from making a worst of the worst list. Instead, what we’ve done is compile a list of guidelines to help you from making that theoretical list. We don’t want to sound like broken records, but when you look good, you play good.
TIP #1: Make your logo similar in height and width
If you were to draw a box around the furthest top/bottom and left/right points of your logo, would it look like a square? Or pretty close? If so, you’re on-track.
Why, you ask? Think about the shape of your body and where the logo goes (and to some extent, how your equipment sits on your). If you have a wide, short logo, it’s not going to fit nicely. You’ll stretch it the full width of your chest, but there will still be A TON of empty space unless you choose to weirdly stretch your logo out of proportion. A great image does not necessarily equal a great logo for a hockey jersey.
Winmar: Example of a logo that is too wide/short to fill the space on a hockey jersey
See the Winmar example. We’re okay criticizing them because they had a bit of a constraint: they were using their corporate sponsor’s logo, so they had to live with what they were given. See the problem though? Tons of dead space below it even though we’ve stretched it as wide as our screen printing machines will allow. Great logo for pens, letterheads, store signage, etc., but not a great logo for hockey jerseys.
Here Comes Trouble: Example of a logo that fills the space on the torso of a hockey jersey well
Similarly, although we don’t get the request as often, tall, skinny logos would tuck into your pants if it extended too far down your torso. Before you argue with us that your torso is a rectangle, remember we probably don’t want to extend much beyond the top of the pants.
Now, see this logo from "Here Comes Trouble". It’s quite similar to the Oilers’ or Bruins’ logos. Takes up the whole chest so you can wear it loud and proud.
TIP #2: The Optimal Chest Logo is 120 Sq Inches
Trust us. We spent time measuring a ton of NHL logos and they all gravitate towards this sort of coverage on the shirt. Square logos, such as Edmonton and Boston, run 11” by 11”. More rectangular logos, like the Carolina Hurricanes, run 14” or 15” wide.
Here is how a logo may look in a flat drawing. It looks as if there is a ton of empty space.
We often run into this discussion while creating mockups for customers. They see a picture of a jersey laying flat and we get asked constantly to make their logo bigger. The reality is that beyond 15” wide the logo begins to wrap under your arms and you can’t see it (we can certainly make it bigger if the style of shirt you selected allows for it, but we just recommend against it).
You need to remember that some of that jersey is going to wrap your torso and site under your arms, so it's effectively untouchable space as far as the logo is concerned.
Once the jersey is worn you can see it wraps around the body and the logo takes up the entire torso
Usually when we get this request on mockups it comes back to tip #1: customers have logos that are too wide/short/rectangular and are trying to make them take up more space on the jersey. Unfortunately, in those cases, the shape is the issue, not the size.
TIP #3: Minimize The Detail
Your jersey isn’t going to be hanging in the Hockey Hall of Fame anytime soon (sorry to break it to you). Even if you’re Crosby though, your jersey’s primary use is on the ice. Now, remember how people are seeing it: it’s moving at least 10 km/h, it’s wrinkling over your chiseled abs, and the puck bunnies sitting in the nosebleeds can’t see the fine details.
Example of how much detail should be in a hockey logo
See the Pittsburgh Penguins concept logo one customer printed. It’s clean and simple, so you can tell what it is from the other end of the rink.
Now, this isn’t a strict rule. You’ll see us point out tons of jerseys with really cool details in them (including on this page). Generally-speaking though, if you look at NHL (or other professional) logos you’ll notice a distinct lack of detail for the reasons we stated above. Having detail doesn’t make your logo “bad” and sometimes there are artistic or sentimental reasons to add them, just remember that the 20,000 screaming fans, even the ones who buy your sweaters, won’t notice the them.
TIP #4: Stick to 2 or 3 Colours
A 2-colour screen printed hockey jersey
Again, not a strict rule, but look at most NHL jerseys. The most common theme is for teams to have 3 colours in their striping patterns and include 2-3 of those colours in their logo. Less than that and it can get dull. More than that and it goes back to tip #2: it’s hard to decipher the details when playing the one of the fastest sports in the world.
The below logo is a fantastic example of sticking to 3 colours (it’s a 2-colour screen print though since we don’t print the red area).
TIP #5: Try Some Concepts Out With a Cheap Artist
In our custom hockey jersey pricing, we include drawing/vectoring/tweaking of one image. That means you need to come to us with very specific instructions on one concept, we draw it, then allow you 2 rounds of revisions (which can’t include changing the logo entirely) before we need to charge extra.
Unfortunately for our graphic designers they work in a profession that doesn’t always get a lot of respect. Their time is valuable and drawing up several concepts until a customer is happy could mean spending more on graphic design time than your whole set of jerseys is worth.
If your team budget can spare an extra $50 (hey, that’s only $3-5 per player) you can get a wide range of ideas drawn up from you using an inexpensive, overseas artist on a website like Fiverr.com. If you use that as your starting ground for logo generation to get something close you can bring it to use to pull that final mile before starting your custom jersey order.
Some Of Our Favourite Custom Logos
These aren’t necessarily our favourites because they follow the above rules perfectly (in fact, a few break them quite badly). Some of these logos we likes because they’re cool, some because they’re unique, and some because they made us laugh!
Beer Kings - Calgary Alberta
This breaks the detail rule, but look at that detail on the suds!
Swamp Donkeys - Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
It’s not exactly a Picasso, but we still chuckle every time we see it.
Reddit r/hockeyplayers jerseys (Canada, United States, UK, and Australia)
Back when we were first getting started we offered up to this subreddit to produce a custom jersey for them and ship it individually to each forum member worldwide. It was quite an undertaking and not something we’re sure we want endeavour in again in the near future, but it was fun while it lasted!
Their logo was a reference to the Narwhal meme on Reddit leveraging the Reddit colours and the Plymouth Whalers logo as a starting point. You may find it interesting, but this subreddit had a mere 5000 subscribers at the time we ran that order (and over 100 of them bought jerseys!).
Pylons - Kitchener, Ontario
We love it because it follows all of the rules so well that it just pops off the jersey. Can’t miss these Pylons.
Mid-Ice Crisis - Edmonton, Alberta
This definitely breaks the detail and colour rules, but whatever. This logo is far too fun to not like. In talking to this customer it sounds like a great group too: a number of players who took up hockey for the first time as adults (if we recall correctly – Mike, if you’re reading this, comment and correct us!).
Atta Boy Blue - Calgary, Alberta
Know how we know we did a good job? When someone comes to us because they saw someone in their league with a set we made. The Atta Boy Blues had an opponent seek us out after seeing their jerseys!
Maryland Crabs - Frederick, Maryland
These guys didn’t just take the old Canucks logo, rip it off, and change the text (we couldn’t have printed it like that anyway). They went the extra mile to make it their own!
Gators Hockey - Regina, Saskatchewan
Two funny stories behind this one.
Story #1. This team met a guy at a bar when at an out-of-town tournament that warmed up to them so much he decided to sponsor a new set of jerseys for the boys (true story)! Maybe we should contact these guys to write a tutorial on, “How to get a stranger to sponsor your beer league hockey jerseys”?
Story #2. We were showing a customer logos from past customers to give him ideas. He loved the Gators logo. He brought it to the team and not only did they laugh at him, they booted him from being in charge of jerseys! What did he do? He contacted us to order a single jersey identical to the Gators’ original jerseys to show up at his next game with. Troll level 1000!
Gentlemen, if you're reading this, we'd love a team photo of these beauties!
Moose - Rockyview County, Alberta
Because, who doesn’t love a good Moose?
It’s the hockey team name equivalent of naming your baby boy something Biblical like Matthew, John, or Joshua.