The Evolution of Levi’s® Stadium’s ‘Classy and Classic’ Inaugural Season Logo

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Three and a half months of work for something that will last a lifetime.

This is how the San Francisco 49ers in-house design team approached Levi’s® Stadium’s inaugural season logo. Creative services manager Ben Mayberry and Co. saw an opportunity to put a permanent stamp on a new start.

So they put the time in. 

After trading 200-plus iterations of the logo with graphic designer Michael Sun, Mayberry and 49ers vice president of marketing Ali Towle settled on the final version you see atop this screen. It’s the organization’s centerpiece for its new “Come to Play” campaign. checked in with the designer to discuss how the logo came to be and why it’s so important in the long run.

LS: Tell us about the look of it — why make it the way you did? 

BM: Everyone was drawn to the natural progression of modernizing the “Farewell Candlestick” logo.” We wanted this logo to have that retro feel but also update it to make it cleaner – we wanted classy and classic. There is a marriage of the brand, the 49ers brand, while moving forward in a thoughtful way, without losing that heritage. Some modern stadiums have gone with modern logos, but we didn’t want to do something that was new and crazy.

LS: How many other logos ended up on the cutting-room floor?

BM: We did make those really modern, out-there logos. As part of our process for something like this, we go down a few paths. Working in Adobe Illustrator, we tried different colors, different shapes, different types of logos, different renderings. There were probably two or three winners and different color schemes. But, in the end, everyone started to be drawn to the shape and the concept of updating Candlestick logo to transition. The decision was made to not throw that tradition away.

LS: The logo you settled on — why that particular angle of Levi’s® Stadium?

BM: Michael Sun did a bunch of different renderings and images of the stadium, but we thought this was one of the most iconic views that people will see from the street. What surrounds it really keeps with the ideas and concepts around the stadium, which is clean, intentional, not overdone. We wanted the logo to have all the elements of the logo be meaningful: We have good spacing; we added the scenery with the mountains behind the stadium to give it that Valley feel; and then we added three stripes to the logo, which is a graphical element that relates back to the 49ers uniforms.

LS: How familiar will this logo be for fans – how often will we see it? 

BM: It’s going to be on a lot of merchandise, a lot of communication materials to fans, media guides, gameday magazine covers, season tickets – they’re not going to be able to miss it. But we didn’t create this logo to sell stuff.

LS: Remind us then – where is the true value in this logo, and how long will it last?

BM: Putting my fan hat on, everyone who is coming to the building this year and is going to see a 49ers game this year – it’s all going to be firsts. Your first game ticket, you keep. It’s about remembering, about passion. There’s a lot of people that got the Farewell Candlestick pin last December, for example, and then NaVorro Bowman’s “The Pick at The ‘Stick” happened. Whatever memories happen this year, the logo will help fans remember. That’s one of the reasons to go classic from a design standpoint: 30 to 40 years from now, if you buy a mug with the logo on it, you’ll say, “I was there when the stadium was built.” If this turns into Candlestick No. 2 and we have the success in this building that we had there, there’s going to be a lot of “I was theres.”

–Andrew Pentis,

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