2013 NHL® All-Star Game Chronicles: Research & Discovery
This is the first story of a series leading up to next season's NHL® All-Star weekend in Columbus
Blue Jackets president Mike Priest said on the day of the All-Star announcement that preparations in Columbus would begin “immediately.” One of the first steps in the operation is to begin developing the official NHL® All-Star Game logo, a process which got under way this morning at Nationwide Arena.
Two representatives from the National Hockey League’s creative and design efforts - Bill Frederick of the Frederick & Froberg Design Group and NHL Senior Design Director Paul Conway – arrived in Columbus Tuesday to meet with Blue Jackets marketing and creative team members and begin planning the art for the 2013 All-Star celebration. Conway and Frederick have been a part of several NHL sanctioned event logo designs, most recently working on the 2012 NHL® All-Star Game in Ottawa.
After watching the Blue Jackets vs. St. Louis Tuesday, Conway and Frederick spent Wednesday in town to gather preliminary information and develop ideas before embarking on their official creative plan. Once the announcement was made by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, they got to work and started thinking of concepts befitting of the host city and its franchise – and they are not shy about using previous projects to help get the ball rolling.
“Naturally, as creatives, you start spinning the wheel a little bit in terms of concepts right away,” Conway told BlueJackets.com. “We start looking online for iconic references, and honestly, some cities are more iconic by nature than others.
“We always reference Pittsburgh for the 2011 NHL Winter Classic® – (Frederick’s group) was involved in that logo design – and everyone associates Pittsburgh with the yellow bridges because they’re an iconic part of the city. Because of that, the bridges were a key aspect of our design.”
The entire process for creating the official logo takes anywhere from four to six weeks, Conway said, and due to the importance of the mark to all parties involved, the process remains fluid.
He referenced Raleigh, N.C. – the host city for the 2011 NHL® All-Star Game – as a creative comparable due to the lack of a major iconic structure in the city, as compared to the Parliament Building in Ottawa, which appeared in the All-Star game logo this year. The NHL design team decided to tweak the Carolina Hurricanes logo into a modified silhouette and use it as the canvas for their unique design.
What it boils down to, Frederick said, is developing an identity that meshes with both the city of Columbus and the Blue Jackets. They will come up with dozens of ideas and sketches, but when they get down to brass tacks, their goal is to be faced with a tough decision on the final product.
“The collection of ideas and that process is basically about distilling everything,” Frederick said. “We’re really trying to dig down and find whatever the core essence is between the host city and the team. All of the input gets put in and we have to find what’s really standing out.
“The components all kind of come together. We have elements that are sort of compulsory, like the NHL® All-Star Game, the NHL shield, the calendar year… a couple of things are always essential. Beyond that, we always try to marry this idea of the essence of the location and the team.”
Conway said their initial visit to Columbus is called the “research and discovery” phase, in which they tour the city and get a feel for the history and background of many meaningful structures around town. He and Frederick visited the Ohio Historical Society this week to delve deeper into the annals of Columbus and to aid them in what they see as a challenging design.
“We actually meet with the key stakeholders, and gather the insight and ideas from the club, team and the area hosting the event,” Conway said. “We have to understand the sensibilities and the key attributes so we can really do a full dive into that, which gives us a solid foundation to start the process.
“Some cities are more challenging than others, and Columbus certainly is one of those. There’s not that one key iconic aspect of the city that stands out, which makes this research phase and interview process even more critical.”