Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns are getting another makeover.
This time the team hopes they’ll get it right.
Multiple sources have told 92.3 The Fan over the past few months that the team didn’t feel the current 9 uniform combinations instituted in 2015 were the right look for the franchise and they will likely opt for a more simplified or “classic” look this time around when they are allowed to trade them in come 2020.
It’s one of the reasons the Browns chose to wear just 2 primary uniform combinations last year – white on white and brown on white, avoiding the orange jerseys and pants altogether. Despite extensive testing under a variety of simulated lighting conditions the last time around, identifying the numerals on the current jerseys is a problem, one they plan to correct with the new design.
NFL rules mandate that teams stick with their new uniforms for 5 years, otherwise the Browns would’ve changed them by now.
The design process is very long and extensive, and it typically takes 2 years to complete, which is why this might be news now even though the new threads won’t be revealed or implemented for another 25 months.
Following the departures of Alec Scheiner and Kevin Griffin, the Browns lured David Freeman from Toronto, Ontario to take over as their senior vice president of marketing and media. Freeman oversaw marketing for the Toronto Raptors, Maple Leafs, Marlies, Toronto FC, Toronto FC II and Raptors 905.
Remember the famed ‘We the North’ campaign the Raptors ran that went viral around the NBA? That was Freeman’s brainchild. Branding is Freeman’s forte, which is why fans should feel good about the team opting for a new direction and them actually getting it right this time. He is heavily involved in the re-design and re-branding process, as is the NFL.
That’s right, the league office carries a tremendous amount of weight when it comes to a team re-branding itself. No one protects the shield and its trademarks quite like the shield. Multiple sources tell 92.3 The Fan that there is already a book of mock-ups privately circulating between the Browns, the NFL offices and Nike, however, the design process is in the infant stages. Many meetings between the Browns, Nike and the NFL are in the offing.
At this point, many ideas of what to do with the team’s uniforms are being thrown around – including the possibility of returning to a white helmet, which was originally worn from 1946-51, with some version of an orange and brown Oreo stripe. A logo on the helmet is not up for consideration at this time a source said. The organization is extremely sensitive to tradition when it comes to the helmet, but few realize the first worn by the team was actually white, not orange.
The Browns introduced an orange-painted leather helmet starting in 1950 to comply with league guidelines because a white ball was used for night games. In 1952 the team introduced a plastic orange helmet with a single white stripe and from 1957-59 added uniform numbers on brown text on the sides. The brown-white-brown Oreo stripe was introduced in 1960. In 2015 the team evened the stripe out and added a textured layer to it, similar to what the Seattle Seahawks did with their helmets while introducing brown facemasks and a brighter shade of orange.
As part of the uniform design process, the Browns are hopeful they’ll implement a new primary logo for the club, which has used its trademark orange helmet as the primary marketing tool for years with failed iterations of secondary logos blended in occasionally, but unlike 2015, it won’t simply be a repainted version of the helmet.
Last year for their trip to London, the team designed a special Premiere League inspired logo to use for the week. It was a brilliant design. The circular logo included the text “Browns United” in white with an orange background and brown stripe boarder, 8 brown stars signifying the clubs 4 AAFC championships and 4 NFL titles opposed it. The team’s famed Oreo stripe crossed it on a 45-degree angle with ’46’ signifying the founding year of the franchise in the middle of the logo. 16 light and dark grey stripes commemorating the 16 Browns Hall of Famers filled the lower right field. If you looked closely at the logo, the grey field around the ’46’ resembled a record, which could have been a silent nod to Cleveland being home to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Returning to some iteration of the Brownie elf is also a possibility, but any final decisions on a new logo or uniforms are well over a year away.
In 2015 the Browns were in dire need of a fresh look and after missing on the redesign they aim to score big in 2020 with a modern look that pays homage to the history of the once great franchise.