The Carolina Panthers logo is not the shape of Carolina

05.27.14 3 years ago 48 Comments

This might seem like a “Well DUH” to some people, but this article is not directed at those people.

The other day I got in an internet argument on reddit because I hate myself and felt like being stupid. The argument was about NFL logos. As you all know, I’m a man who is known to dabble in logos from time to time. So lets talk about logos and I’m going to get really angry about a very trivial thing.

The discussion being had was about NFL logo subtleties. Someone was asking why the Eagles logo faces the opposite direction from the other logos. It was pointed out that the “feathers” on the right side make an E.


Now, I’ve never completely bought that argument. For one thing, there is another “feather” on the bottom under the third feather. I always personally suspected the logo faced left because the previous logo also faced left and they wanted continuity.


Since the Eagle is not actually featured on the helmet, I figured having it face right or forward isn’t a big deal. Besides, sometimes the Eagle actually is featured facing right, which would kill the E theory.

This image, by the way, is the official alternate logo, so it’s not fan made.

But, it’s close enough that it’s possible, and I’m not ready to discount it. The argument however was not about the Eagles logo. It was about the Panthers logo. Great sports logos also have subtle elements to them, and people love looking for them. The Falcons logo is a prime example. It is primarily a falcon, but it is also an F. Like, once you see the F, it’s so obviously an F that it cannot be unseen. It’s not what the logo is about though, and it can be appreciated without it. It’s subtlety done right.


Another great example is the old Milwaukee Brewers logo. It’s a baseball glove! Look closer, it’s also an M and a B!  That logo was perfect and it’s a shame they got rid of it, it was my favorite sports logo of all time.


So people have started noticing these small design details, and a large number of people have decided that the Carolina Panthers logo is in the shape of the two states of Carolina. I think this is a stupid theory, and I’m going to explain why.

First point to make: My argument extends to both the old Panthers logo, and the new one. The two logos are almost pixel for pixel the exact same shape, so my argument works for both. You can’t come in and say “well you are using the new logo, the old one looked closer”. No it didn’t, the two logos are the same shape, shut up. Here is overlaid proof. Look how close they are.



So here is the Carolina logo and here is a picture of the Carolinas.

carolinas f1wggq2k8ql88fe33jzhw641u

Here is the two of them overlaid.


Not even close. The angle is all wrong. Look how not close that is. It’s so far from being the shape of Carolina that I’m astounded people are convinced this is true.

“BUT DAVE!” you scream in earnest, “WHAT IF YOU TILT IT? THEN IT FITS!”


Does it? It’s closer, sure. But it’s still not that close. The head doesn’t match up with upper North Carolina. It’s still just off enough. It is not close enough to convince me that it is anything but coincidence. But for me, the tilt is what proves that any possible resemblance to the Carolinas is completely coincidental. You should not have to tilt a logo to make it work. If the logo was supposed to resemble the shape of the carolinas, they wouldn’t make it so that it only worked once it has been tilted against the natural design of the logo.

Designers are smart people who know their craft. Why would a designer make a logo resemble another shape, but only when the logo is tilted? They wouldn’t, because professional designers aren’t stupid. The logo was designed to have the head face forward at a level angle, with the neck curling downwards, which is not the angle of the Carolinas. A good designer would not design a logo to resemble a shape only when the logo is tilted at an unnatural angle. That would be what we call a bad designer.

If the logo was to be designed in the shape of the Carolinas, the logo would look something like this:


This was a 30-second photoshop job. All I did was angle the neck differently. But this logo is actually shaped in a way that resembles the shape of the states, not perfectly, but the angles are right and that’s what matters. I’m sure I could do a better job if I gave it more time, and I’m just an amateur designer at best who is largely self taught. I have an art degree but it was not in design. The Panthers would not hire me to design the logo of a multimillion dollar sports franchise, they would hire an experienced designer, maybe even a full design studio, to make their logo. Plus other people to critique it every step of the way. That would be a lot of smart designers on one project. Are you telling me that these excellent people would be so bad at their job as to make a logo that was supposed to resemble the shape of the states, but only does so when tilted at an unnatural angle? Hell no. Give me a break.

Another argument I saw was that the team said in their press release that the logo is supposed to “represent the two states”. This is a crap argument too, because guess what kiddos, Represent =/= resemble. They didn’t say the logo represented the shape of the two states, just that it represented the two states. In the art world, represent is a broad term usually used in an abstract fashion to describe a work. Lets call back at the Jags logo press conference last year. They said the black to gold fade on the helmet was supposed to “represent the Jaguar coming out of the shadows to attack”. It’s obviously not literal. it’s an abstract representation of an idea. All the logos “represent” things in some way. The Ravens logo represents Baltimore. It also represents Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven, as well as Poe himself. The Chiefs’ arrowhead logo represents the Native American culture that the franchise uses to represent their theme. The Falcons logo doesn’t represent an F, it literally is an F. Represent is a broad term. Using it here is flawed. The Panthers logo represents the Carolinas in the “this is the symbol of our team” way and not in the “This is the shape of our states” way. It could be both if designed that way, but it wasn’t. The tilt proves that.

The fact is, the Carolina logo is just an angry animal head. Which I’ve alluded to before is a common and boring theme in sports logos.

If the designer came out and said specifically that they intended to make the Carolina Panther resemble the shape of the two states, then I would change my mind. To this point, I don’t think that has happened. If I missed an official statement somewhere, please point it out to me. But here’s the kicker. If the logo was supposed to be in the basic shape of Carolina? Then the designer did a bad job. Like I said before, a good designer doesn’t make a design to resemble something, then only have it resemble something when tilted at the wrong angle. The Eagles E, while I’m unsure if it was intentional or not, still works even if it wasn’t intended. The Panthers logo does not, even if it was. Since I like to give professional artists the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to say the Panthers logo does not represent the shape of the Carolinas.

So why do people think it does? Well I think it has to do with shapes. The Carolinas are more or less the shape of a trapezoid. The Panthers logo is also more or less a  trapezoid. I stuck a point at the 4 major corners and drew the shape of both:

shapes1 shapes2

Our brain is hardwired to recognize shapes. Two things that are similar are going to immediately get compared in our brains. If you squint and unfocus, then tilt the logo, then the two roughly line up. Our brains are making a connection based on simple shapes common to the world. It’s only on closer inspection that you realize things are more complicated than that. So yeah, at a quick glance, these two look close.

This is with the shapes tilted to line up the best, by the way, not the original orientation of the Panthers logo

But that still doesn’t explain why the Panthers logo only roughly lines up when tilted from the intended angle of design.

So TL:DR – The Panthers logo and the Carolinas are very roughly the same shape, but only when tilted, which goes against the natural designed angle of the logo in the first place. Myth: BUSTED.

Take that, internet people. If anyone mentions that maybe the logo matches up better with a different map projection of Carolina I will find you and slap you.

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