Forward Movement & Application

Something that comes up a lot in sports logo design is forward movement or the illusion of it. For instance, an argument is often made that a logo should face to the right to show forward movement because that’s the direction we read; left to right.

I don’t think that is necessarily true for logos. Forward movement can be shown in different ways because direction is relative. You can make something “move forward” and show it from multiple perspectives. The Bengals’ alternate logo, for instance, faces 3/4 to the left, but we read it as the tiger focusing on what is in front of him because of the eyes. There is clearly a forward direction.

Similarly, the Eagles’ logo usually faces left, but the bird is clearly moving forward as the eyes and lines of the logo suggest. An eagle with its neck and head stretched forward would not be flying backward.

More importantly, logos will often need to show forward movement when applied to opposite sides of an object, and this is where the illusion of direction really comes into play. In football, most logos need to be mirrored to do this when applied to the helmet. It’s important that a football logo can do this because the helmet is the primary application of the logo; it is where the logo will be seen most often.

Any logo that is meant to show forward movement and is reflected on its primary application must also sell that illusion when it is mirrored. If not, the logo fails.

It doesn’t matter if a logo works well on a flat page if it cannot communicate its message when applied to the things where people will see it most; where the logo is intended to live. This is why direction is relative and facing right doesn’t always mean “forward.”