Thursday, September 27, 2012

Worst logo ever, sports division

It looks like a rough draft. Will the typographer return shortly
to turn these shapes into letters? Hello? Anyone there?
What is it?

For 42 years I've been asking.

It's an M, I'm told. It's an M?

For Montréal, home of the erstwhile Expos.

What is it? Only the worst sports logo ever.

Good logos excite me. Clever logos jolt the pleasure center of my pea brain. How I love to find layers of meaning in an elegant economy of shapes!

How I wish this had those.

(I'm told it does, but I'm not impressed.)

At first sight, I saw what most do, a lowercase e, l (some see j) and b.  I shrugged and went on with my eight-year-old life of counting repeatedly to eight and never ever stepping on a sidewalk crack, thereby saving my life and that of my family.

Much later, someone showed me the M, and told me the colors represented French Canada and the province of Quebec.

It's an M?

The unsatisfying swirls and uneven lumps look like a cake decorator's warmup. Their lack of clarity have begotten little myths about their creation, none of them verifiable as far as I can tell. 

Baseball claims:
Soon, they (Expos owners) would unveil an innovative logo, combining a capital "M" (for Montreal), a lower-case cursive "e" (for Expos) and a lower-case "b" (for baseball), in the team's three colors, red, white and blue. The team's cap was also ground-breaking, with a crown divided in the three team colors and the logo on a white field in front. Enthusiasm for the new franchise would build very quickly.
The logo in later years. Witness how every effort was
made to draw attention away from the original
"Innovative" is in the eye of the beholder, as is enthusiasm for the rodeo clown (baby blue for the road!) uniforms or for the team. The team had a good run, including a playoff-bound 1994 season cut down by a players' strike. But you need only to know this about the Expos: When the San Francisco Giants sponsored Little League Day and offered discount tickets, it was always for a matchup with the Expos, when seats were plentiful. 

Someone in the blogosphere says "elb" stands for "Expos les Baseball." Is that even proper French?

A designer who worked for the Expos' advertising agency in Montréal claims this on Bleacher
The genesis of the Expos' logo design is that the initial owner, Charles Bronfman,
of Seagram's fame, scribbled an idea down on a cocktail napkin in a pinch, when the
team was due to show MLB what they had in mind for an team identity in late 1968.
After many Seagram's products, perhaps …

Another bloggy type says the "elb" are Mr. Bronfman's daughter's initials. OK.

I think the trouble started with the name, inspired by the Expo 67 World's Fair that took place two years before the team first took the field. Yet another blogger said it appealed because Expos is the same and French and English. Is that really justification? Name the baseball team not for something hearkening to the city's nearly 200 years of history, but for a one-shot world fair?

"Suppositories? Aisle 17 …"
Hey, I loved the 1974 World's Fair in Spokane, but can't see naming something meaningful after it.

Would the Expos' logo die a quiet death, return to the malformed depths from which it came? Of course not. It arose, only slight better formed, when the Expos became the Washington Nationals, and the transformed team adopted what more than one astute critic says resembles the Walgreens' "W."

And of course, the old Expos' mess of a logo is now a fashion statement for kids either too young to know better, or who revel in something so bad, it's good.



  1. Hey Shawn,
    for some reason I always liked the Expos logo...
    I think it was taken from the "Expo68" that took place in Montreal.


    1. you're not alone, frank; i came across more than a few who favor it.

  2. elb mean (Expos League Baseball) and in french its (expos ligue baseball)

  3. i dont know who was your blogosphere but he don't know french