Rebranding the Game: A Look at the WNBA’s Logo Transformation

When the WNBA was founded in 1997, the league sought to create a logo and brand identity that captured the essence of women’s basketball and the game’s aspirations. It was important for the logo to convey the athleticism of the growing league’s future stars while establishing a unique character that differentiated the WNBA from other basketball leagues worldwide. The designers creating the inaugural logo had a tall order to fill. 

After extensive research and several rounds of brainstorming, the league unveiled a logo that exceeded expectations. Simply put, the W delivered. The red, white, and blue shield with the letters “WNBA” above the player dribbling a basketball was a simple yet striking design that captured the spirit of the game. The diagonally slanted shield was a nod to the NBA logo, which was already familiar to consumers, while the unknown player silhouette represented the league’s players and their talent.

The inaugural logo was an instant hit among basketball fans, and it helped to establish the WNBA as the premier destination for professional women’s basketball. It symbolized the league’s determination to elevate the game to new heights and prove that women’s sports are equally as exciting and compelling as men’s. The crest became synonymous with the league and its players and helped establish a strong brand identity for the WNBA.

As the years went by, the WNBA continued to evolve, and the league’s logo needed to follow suit. The league saw the emergence of new talent, expanded global reach, and a growing cognition of the importance of promoting women’s sports. The company knew it needed a new logo that would reflect this development. Plus, while the original symbol captured the league’s roots, it soon became apparent that the league needed to grow away from NBA imagery and cultivate something unique.

Unveiling a new WNBA logo in 2013 was a momentous occasion, marking a turning point for the league and its players. The new bold and vibrant orange logo left its NBA brand identity behind, forging an original essence, and the image of a player simply dribbling the ball was no more. The new emblem depicted a player in motion, seemingly attacking the basket with an explosive burst of energy. Some viewers immediately saw the silhouette going in for a layup, with the ball fully extended as she approached the basket. But others saw something even more remarkable: A player throwing down a dunk. Was it a layup or a dunk? The world may never know. But we know that the new logo was meant to illustrate the growing athleticism and skill of the league’s players as well as the WNBA’s determination to continue pushing the boundaries of what was possible in women’s basketball.

Now turning to the third and current version, today’s WNBA logo—created in 2019—isn’t just about basketball anymore. It’s become a symbol of women’s empowerment. The player in the logo is a more realistic representation of a female basketball player than the previous logos, with curves and muscles that speak to the strength and power of women’s basketball. Her hair is styled in a bun, and her uniform is simple and sleek, with no team logos or branding to distract from the overall design. This image has helped to raise the profile of the league and its players in mainstream media. Some even say it resembles Diana Taurasi.

One of the most distinctive ways the iconic orange WNBA logo designed by Sylvain Labs has affected pop culture is through its presence on merchandise and apparel. The logo has been emblazoned on everything from t-shirts and hats to basketballs and the league’s iconic orange hoodie, making it a ubiquitous symbol of the W and its players. 

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This merchandise has been popular among WNBA fans and those who support women’s sports and gender equality more broadly. NBA stars, musicians, and entertainers made the hoodie the preferred garment during the 2020 bubble/wubble season, causing a viral #OrangeHoodie hashtag. 

In addition to on sporting goods (buy some Winsidr merch), the orange WNBA logo has also been featured in advertising campaigns and promotional materials. It has been used in television commercials, displayed on billboards, and presented in social media posts, helping to raise awareness for the league and its players among a wider audience. 

This increased visibility has helped to attract new fans to the sport and inspire young girls in athletic pursuits. The logo has become a symbol of empowerment and strength for adult athletes in women’s sports as well, inspiring them to pursue their dreams and break down barriers. It has also helped to establish the WNBA as a leader in the fight for social justice in sports and paved the way for other organizations to follow suit.

Consider these logos as time capsules—three distinct pieces representing unique eras of the league’s history. The evolution and history of the WNBA logo are a testament to the league’s growth and the ever-changing landscape of women’s basketball. From the initial logo bred from an NBA mold to the confident design of the current logo’s fiery and passionate expression, each stamp has represented the spirit of the league at that time.

The WNBA’s commitment to elevating the game of women’s basketball is reflected in the evolution of its logo. As the league continues to grow, we expect to see more exciting changes to its logo that reflect the power, strength, and impact of women’s basketball.

View Comment (1)
  • Nice article. There’s no truth behind any of your writing unfortunately.


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