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One of the most recognizable logos in the NFL today certainly belongs to the Denver Broncos. The bold orange and blue design has been the cornerstone of the team’s brand since 1997 and enjoys one of the highest popularity ratings from fans across the NFL. And like many teams, their current logo has evolved over the decades from a very rough design in 1960 to the clean, memorable look they have today.

After five design refreshes over 50 years, here’s what Denver did right this time:

1. Hired a professional designer

In 1996, the owner of the Broncos, Pat Bowlen, looked to the creative staff at Nike to develop a logo that would be the horse equivalent of the NIKE swoosh. Over the course of several months, a core team worked on refining half a dozen concepts until landing on the design used today. And while most businesses can’t afford to hire this type of high-powered creative team, there are many affordable options available in the $200-$500 range.

2. Kept it simple and memorable

The Broncos clean, modern design is a far cry from their 1960 logo that sported spurs, a fuzzy mane and football player cleaning his teeth with a toothpick. While details may be fun to include, they often clutter the design and make it more challenging to apply across different marketing efforts.

3. Avoided too many fonts and colors

Again, Denver used complementary colors to keep their logo recognizable and uncluttered.  It’s a good idea to stay with less than three colors, while also sticking to one font when using text.

4. Made it scalable

A visit to the Broncos’ official Pro Shop confirms how well their logo works on smaller products, from newborn onesies to larger items like 3’ x 5’ flags. Beyond merchandising, keeping your logo scalable has become even more important given the small photo image slots on social media sites.

5. Separated image from text

Notice how the logo used on the team’s website and uniform does not contain any text – a nod to how well known their brand has become. And while most of us would love to be in the company of the no-text league (think Apple, Audi, Pepsi), it’s still important to include your name in your logo to help convey meaning. Just be sure the two can be disconnected for cases when application of the logo calls for text vs. image.

6. Designed to be timeless, not trendy

While the jury is still out as to how long Denver will keep this version of their logo, the design has easily made it through the many changes brought on by the new millennium. With four straight seasons making the playoffs, I doubt they’ll be changing any of their brand magic anytime soon!

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