Designing the Dallas Stars’ new look was a long, highly-detailed process. So long and detailed that Stars owner Tom Gaglardi joked that he couldn’t remember it all. But Gaglardi loves the end result and hopes fans will share that feeling about the Stars’ new brand, which is centered on the team’s logo.
“I’m excited. My hope is the logo is one that they’ll love,” Gaglardi said. “It’s one that is void of any word mark, but I think any fan will look at it and see a D and a Star. There’s only one Big D, so I feel the logo will be pretty easily recognizable. I love its simplicity.”
But getting to the Stars’ new look was no simple task. From the time the Stars started the process to Tuesday’s unveiling of the new logo and new uniforms, it took one full calendar year.
“When Jim (Lites, Stars CEO & President) told me I was going to be involved, I was excited. I thought we’d get in here and look at 20 or 30 renditions and we’ll go from there,” said Jason Walsh, Stars Vice President, Production and Entertainment. “But the process was so intricate and detailed. I am still floored by what we did in one year, how many things we did and looked at.”
The Stars looked at more than 230 variations of the uniform, including several different color schemes, striping combinations, and logos. And there were plenty of opinions. It all started in May 2012 with Gaglardi, Lites, Walsh, members of the executive staff, Stars broadcasters Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh and others sitting down to map out a plan.
“We looked at every team in Dallas, in Texas, anything that surrounded us, bordered us or felt that was relevant to us,” said Walsh. “We looked at the different logos around the league and decided what we liked and didn’t like about all of them. Then we created this 36-page brief to the NHL and they were floored by how detailed it was, and we kind of laid out a direct path to Reebok of where we wanted to go.”
Reebok responded with four designs, which the Stars didn’t like. But they liked elements from one of them.
“This is where the process started to turn,” said Walsh. “Once we got the initial stuff from Reebok, we started really internally becoming creatively involved. This is where all the different variations of the jerseys started to come together because we were able to do it faster than they were. We were able to do it in the same day in most cases.”
The first item the Stars were able to settle on was the primary logo, which consisted of a D and a Star.
“I hope that they look at it and say it’s the Dallas Stars. This is who we are. It’s a D and a Star. We’re the Dallas Stars, in Big D,” said Walsh. “We looked at a variation of things that just seemed too cute. We just wanted it to be simple and classic with a modern look to it. I think that is exactly what we ended up with.”
“It’s a clear winner, but it’s one of those logos that you have to look at a couple days to really get it but once you got it, then you really got it,” said Gaglardi. “It won’t surprise me to see people want to take some time to take a look at it. Maybe the first reaction is, ‘That’s interesting.’ The reaction a whole bunch of people had during the process was that after a few days, it really becomes something you love.”
It’s a logo Gaglardi believes will hold up over time and stack up well against others in the NHL.
“If I look at the 30 logos from around the league, there are some elite logos there. Some of them are the Original 6 ones and then you have a bunch of other really great logos. I would hope that our logo would belong in that group. I think it met the test,” said Gaglardi. “We wanted something timeless and simple and maybe you can argue that the Original 6 logos and the old vintage logos didn’t have the shadowing and the beveling. I agree with that. It’s something we worked hard on, but ultimately we realized that the logo looked so much better with what we were attempting to do… which was to have the D and the Star working together, we really needed the shadow and the bevel to make it really work.”
Nailing down the colors and striping for the uniform was a far more complicated process. On the colors, there were varying opinions on where the Stars should go. Some wanted to stay with the traditional green and gold, and some wanted to go in a much different direction.
“We went into the process totally open-minded,” said Gaglardi. “We had some people in the group that had strong feelings that our new colors should be the Texas state flag, red, white and blue. And those were people I have a lot of respect for. We had other people say the other three major sports teams in the Metroplex are blue predominantly, and that we should work on a blue base.”
Gaglardi put a lot of stock on the opinions from outside the group, namely fans who leaned heavily towards staying green. Those fan opinions seemed to tip the scales.
“I received numerous letters, some emails, but mostly in writing. There’s no doubt the biggest factor for me was that it was almost entirely the advice from fans that green was the predominant color,” said Gaglardi. “That message was heard loud-and-clear by me and our management team. There’s no doubt it had a huge impact on where we ended up because my initial thoughts were that we should look at abandoning green.”
Still, there was an issue of what shade of green. The Stars wanted something they could own, and something that worked well on television. The winner was Victory Green, but it took some time to get there.
“If you are going to go green, you want it to pop on TV,” said Walsh. “If you go too dark with green or a color like blue, it looks black on TV, even on high definition. We wanted our green to pop, so we went back and forth with Reebok several times. We brought in jerseys from different teams, different sports teams.
“We went back to Reebok and they found Victory Green. It was a mix between Kelly Green and Forest Green. Instead of Kelly Green having that one shade yellow too much, we needed one more shade of blue in there to bring it back. And when we did a television test, it looked unbelievable on TV. It really popped. We’ve been so dark and drab for so many years, we want this to pop. And it does.”
Added Gaglardi: “I think it’s a perfect green. It’s our green, it looks great on television and it’s a historic sports color.”
The Stars did make the decision to move away from gold, which had been part of the team’s tradition. It wasn’t an easy decision, but there were a couple reasons. One of them was aesthetic.
“We’ve never been able to have a gold that looks the same across the board, whether that’s on merchandise, our own jersey itself. Gold, when it is put on different materials, sometimes it is more yellow, sometimes it is more metallic. We could never get to a happy medium,” said Walsh. “Plus, with the shade of green we went with, the gold just didn’t look right. It was just the odd-man out. It was a tough decision because part of our heritage has been gold, but when you’ve got a chance to do this and you want to do it right, we had to make the hard decision to go silver. It just made more sense with the logo itself and the ability to keep continuity across all the different platforms on which our logo is going to appear.”
Gaglardi had another reason, which he found by looking to the heavens.
“The other thing that bothered me is that if you look in the sky and look at a star, it’s more silver than gold,” said Gaglardi. “I think the silver only came in in terms of enhancing the logo and the crest that goes on the jersey. That’s one great thing about hockey is the crest that goes on the jersey. That was important to me to make that look great. We needed the introduction of silver in that crest in the beveling to make the logo really look great. But I don’t see silver as part of our main colors. I see our colors as being green, black and white. Yes, there is silver but it is just in the beveling. I think we got the look we wanted with three colors, albeit with silver.”
There were other key elements worked into the mix, including two variations of the logo that are found on the uniform. One is a circular patch on the shoulders, a coin look that includes the words Dallas and Stars. With no word mark on the primary logo, the shoulder patch offered an opportunity.
“The thing for people to understand about the old logo is that it had the words Dallas and Stars outside the actual logo itself, which makes us very different than most teams,” Walsh explained. “Most times, your word mark is contained within your logo itself. So, it always made it very difficult for us from a creative perspective to do anything with our logo because it was two different pieces really. But we always felt the branding of the word ‘Stars’ across the top was important to us. When we went to the new D and Star, we lost any kind of word mark within the primary logo itself. That’s why we felt it was important to have the words ‘Dallas’ and ‘Stars’ on the shoulder patch. That’s how we got there. And we wanted to continue to emphasize the brand of the D and Star within that same shoulder patch. Plus, from a merchandising standpoint on hats and shirts, it looks great.”
“It was a chance to introduce a secondary logo, which would be rooted in our jersey,” said Gaglardi. “I think it is something that will evolve over time. I think it will allow us to do some interesting things down the road and whether we do that or not, I don’t know. I can see that shoulder patch evolving into other interesting things.”
And there was another logo, this one placed on the pant shell featuring the D-Star logo along with the state of Texas.
“One of the big discussions in our group was continuing the tie to the state of Texas because we are the only NHL team in this massive state,” said Walsh. “We wanted the state of Texas represented somewhere, so we have a logo that does appear on the pant shell and it’s the D-Star and the state of Texas. We were always partial to our old shoulder crest.”
“That ties in with some of our history,” said Gaglardi. “We tried it on the shoulder, but it seems to fight with the crest too much. The reason the shoulder is in a clean circle is not to fight with the crest and that’s why we moved the historic Texas logo to the pants. And I think it looks great.”
The striping on the jerseys was a complicated process as well as the Stars tried to get just the right look with the rest of the uniform’s elements.
“We wanted to be classic, we wanted simple lines. We didn’t want anything that was too modern,” said Walsh. “We just wanted something simple. At one point we had the striping up on the elbows, but it looked like you were wearing a short-sleeve shirt. We just brought it all the way down closer to the gloves, so that blends in right with the gloves. And on the bottom we wanted to blend in right with the pants. Striping might have been one of the most difficult things we looked at.”
There was plenty of detail work, including the size of elements on the uniforms, exactly where items were positioned. Often times it was a matter of a fraction of an inch here or there. Gaglardi was heavily involved in the process.
“Three or four times a week, he would jump in and ask to see things and look at things, offer opinions, offer ideas,” said Walsh. “He was very involved.”
And Gaglardi was highly detailed-oriented. Even after the final prototype, which isn’t expected to be precise just yet, was delivered to the Stars, Gaglardi’s keen eye for detail still kicked into gear.
“We have the stripes at the bottom of the jersey and each stripe is supposed to be exactly one inch in width,” said Walsh. “I set the jersey down and Tom put his glasses on and he must have looked at it for five seconds and he looked at me and said, ‘Go get a ruler.’ I was like, ‘What’s wrong?’ So I go get a ruler and one of the stripes was 1/8 of an inch off. He saw it that fast. That was the attention of detail that Tom was involved in.”
That attention to detail was representative of Gaglardi and the Stars’ pursuit to get to get it just right. After Reebok delivered the first set of prototypes in the fall, the Stars weren’t happy where they were. They had a deadline in December to make their final decision, but ended up asking for, and receiving, an extension. At times the Stars thought they were there, but then a new idea would rear its beautiful head and it was back to work. It was just before this past season started that the Stars nailed it down.
“There was not a single stone left unturned from what we did,” said Walsh. “We have 236 variations of the uniform that we looked at. I had to go back and add them all up.”
Now, you can see why Gaglardi joked that he doesn’t remember all of it. But he loves the end result, and the unveiling of the new look comes at an exciting time for the team and Gaglardi, who took over the Dallas Stars after the 2011-12 season had already started and then saw the 2012-13 season abbreviated by the lockout. The 2013-14 season will be the first full one under his ownership. He has a new GM in place in Jim Nill and the Stars will soon have a new head coach. And 2013-14 will usher in a new brand as well.
“I don’t think it was a grand plan,” said Gaglardi. “Three or four months ago I didn’t think we’d have a new general manager and a new head coach. I knew we’d have a new look, but I didn’t know those things. As I said, not part of the grand plan, but that is the way it has happened and I think it is exciting.”