Milwaukee Admirals Hockey Team

“The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds” ~ Theo Jansen

This quote has been the driving philosophy behind my career for a long time now.  I find it very inspirational because it ties directly to great design.  And it brings to mind the question, “how much design is enough?”

My answer is “when the discovery process is done well, and it’s transferred to the designer efficiently, only one design iteration is necessary.”

GENERATING FRESH IDEAS

This describes our work with the Admirals, the American Hockey League team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I met with the owner and GM; they wanted new signs and a build out at their home arena.

The team was seeking our help in generating fresh, new ideas for their brand and for their office space.  Historically, the organization primarily promoted players and concert events (like Motley Crew and Foreigner) to build attendance at home games.

Taking a close look at their brand’s history, I discovered something very interesting and powerful about the team’s image.  They have had seven iterations of their logo since inception of the team in the early 1970’s.  That means the brand has a tremendous amount of heritage and a remarkable evolutionary story to tell.

I explained the brand history and showed the iterations to Dale, our in-house designer.  He created a great concept right on the spot for the client!

THE EXCITEMENT BUILDS

When visitors arrive at the team office in downtown Milwaukee, they see the heritage and the Admiral branding first.  Leveraging tradition and longevity, the front of the office and hallways feature collages of the stars from the teams’ early years (players that have either passed away or are long retired). That includes the first Admirals player to make it to the National Hockey League (NHL).

The Admirals design concept is driven by the fact that each wall has a purpose.  Toward the inner portions of the team office, the excitement level gets turned up a few notches.  The feel becomes more like Monday Night Football-level technology and splash.

At this stage, visitors to the office are presented with all of the value-add things that go with season ticket packages.  Emphasis is on highlighting events like catering, concerts and signed photographs of star players as well as rock stars.

CONCLUSION

Great design is so much more than slapping a logo on a building.  It’s about who the organization is and their journey.  Great design requires deep knowledge of what the organization stands for.  And a hand-made drawing that comes out of this process is far more significant than a computer-generated image.

This is how much thought goes into branding.  How many designs does it take to get there? Only one, if the process is done right!

-Adam

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