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Discover the Minnesota Viking Logo History & Transformation Over the Years
The United States is home to people of many ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds, with generations living together peacefully. And there is no better representation of it then a look at the various NFL logos. From the fleur-de-lis of the Saints, to the Norse-inspired design of the Minnesota Viking logo, there are many historical and cultural details for someone with a keen eye for such details.
Today, the Vikings logo is one of the most recognizable brands in the NFL, with a classic design that is hard to miss and easy to remember. With the franchise joining the NFL in 1960, they have been playing the game professionally for over six decades now. So the question in everyone’s mind right now is; what did the Vikings logo look like back then?
Did it look the same as today, or was there a major difference? And if it was different, how did it evolve to represent the NFL franchise successfully for so long? Many of the NFL teams currently playing in the league have gone through a number of logos over the years, while some have barely tweaked their design a couple of times over decades. That is because it is difficult to come up with an evergreen logo design that lasts the business a lifetime.
So, let’s dive in and discover whether the logo for the Minnesota Vikings was one of the evergreen ones, or it too had evolved multiple times before transforming into its current shape. We will also discuss the essence and secrets of the Vikings logo, and how you can incorporate that essence in your logos with the help of a logo design services professional.
A Brief History of the Minnesota Vikings – The Rise of the Norsemen
Let’s begin by taking a look at the inception of the Minnesota Vikings franchise, and discover how it has fared over the years.
The twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota have an old history of professional football that harks back to the start of the 20th century. The Minneapolis Marines joined the American Professional Football Association in 1921, but shut down in 1924. Then, they were restructured into the Minneapolis Red Jackets in 1929, but they ended up being merged with the Frankford Yellow Jackets just two seasons later.
After that, it wasn’t until 1959 that the region became a contender for professional football again, when three local businessmen were awarded an AFL franchise. However, the team passed on the American Football League’s franchise offer and opted to join the NFL when they were offered the 14th NFL franchise in 1960, playing their first game in 1961.
Since their inception, the franchise has had one of the highest win percentages in the entire NFL, including teams that have been with the League since its inception. However, despite that, the Vikings have only one Championship win and that too in 1969, a year before the AFL-NFL merger.
For a team that has been unsuccessful in winning a single Super Bowl, their stats are quite good. As of the 2022 season, the team has won three or more games per regular season, barring the 1962 season. Moreover, they are one of seven NFL franchises to have won fifteen or more games in a regular season. In addition, with 28 playoff appearances, they have the third-highest playoff qualifying record, trailing behind the Cowboys and Steelers.
While the team has not won a Super Bowl so far, it is not for lack of trying. The Minnesota Vikings have reached the Super Bowl 4 times, qualifying for the 1969, 1973, 1974, and 1976 seasons. However, due to serial bad luck, they have lost all four times. That bad luck also extends to their NFC conference championship as well, as they have faced defeat in their last six NFC Championship appearances, going back all the way to 1978.
Coming back to the origins of the franchise, the name for the Minnesota Vikings is an homage to a large, predominantly immigrant Scandinavian-descent American population of Minnesota. In fact, Minnesota is often considered the center of Scandinavian-American culture. That, combined with their penchant for playing intense, highly interesting games with no chance of predicting the outcome until the play starts, makes for a team that is highly revered by its fans.
The motivating chant of the team is also inspired by the Nordic origins of the franchise, with fans yelling “Skol” while slapping their hands to the beat of a drum. Even Prince, legendary musician, and Minneapolis native, was a fan of the team, recording the song “Purple and Gold’ to be used as the Viking’s fight song.
Overall, the Minnesota Vikings are one of the more successful franchises of the NFL, despite no Super Bowl win to their name. That is the reason for the team’s loyal fan base, and the fact that Vikings can claim 15 Pro Hall of Fame players today, a metric that teams far older than them have a hard time achieving.
Significance of the Minnesota Vikings Logo in American Culture
As we mentioned earlier, the Minnesota area has a high density of Scandinavian-descent Americans. With Scandinavian cultural ties and practices still strong within the community, it is no wonder that an NFL team from the area would have a predominantly Scandinavian slant to its design. If we take a look at the Minnesota Vikings logo, it features the helmeted head of a Viking warrior as its mascot.
Now, many of the teams in the NFL use some kind of symbolism in its logo’s design, such as the prominence of the mustang in the Denver Broncos logo. As the Denver area has long been known for the wild mustangs that roamed the plains of Colorado, that imagery pays homage to the area’s history.
Similarly, the Viking warrior is a reminder of the area’s cultural roots. The horned helmet of the wild-mustachioed blonde warrior, combined with the “Skol” chant of the fans supporting the teams, lend a wild quality to the noble and resilient history of the Norsemen.
And that is what the Vikings logo and that of many other teams in the League is all about, giving the fans a relatable symbol to rally behind, come rain or shine.
Evolution of the Minnesota Vikings Logo through the Decades
So far, we have taken a look at the history and inception of the Vikings franchise, and discussed the significance of its brand symbol on the fans and other people across the US. After that, you may be wondering; what is it about the Minnesota Vikings logo that has the fans rallying behind the team, despite an unlucky track record of losing when it matters the most?
Moreover, how did the brand symbol manage to retain that fan loyalty over an era that spans more than six decades? These questions can also be asked for other NFL team symbols, such as the Detroit Lions logo that has managed a fan following despite an absolute abysmal track record; a phenomenon rarely seen outside the world of sports.
Let’s dive in and take a look at the various iterations of the design throughout the Minnesota Vikings logo history, and see what value each new transformation brought to the brand.
1961 – 1965
For their very first season in the NFL, the team debuted a wonderful new design in 1961. This version of the Minnesota Vikings logo featured a left-facing Viking head, like the Philadelphia Eagles logo, something rare in the league that had right facing logo designs. It also had a long, bushy moustache and an angular yet weathered face with a frown on it.
The character wore a large, lightly point Viking helmet, with long and curving horns coming out the side of it on both sides. Underneath it, you could see that the Viking wore its hair in a braid on the side, while it flowed down at the back.
When it came to the color palette, the designers used a very simple, yet highly visible scheme. For the face and the moustache, the design featured these elements just outlined in black, devoid of any other color. The helmet and the hair on the other hand, were colored a dark yellow-gold, outlined and accented in black, with the helmet having a thick black band running all around the circumference of the rim.
While it may seem somewhat lackluster compared to the design of today, in the early 60s, that was considered a great logo for an NFL team named after Norse warriors.
1966 – 1996
The lack of any contrasting color in the Vikings logo soon became apparent. It was 1966, just five seasons after the team’s debut, that the franchise decided to revamp its logo. This was the first and last major revamp of the Minnesota Vikings logo, with the subsequent ones being nothing more than slight tweaks made to a successful design to update it with the times. This is a style that is often used by teams with simpler logo designs, such as the Green Bay Packers logo, but rarely done by those with mascot logos.
Now, the Viking looked to the right, flipping the design 180 degrees on its vertical axis. Even the color scheme was changed, with the head now colored a tan pink, while the moustache was now the same color as the hair and the helmet.
The band running around the helmet was also refined, with cleaner lines, and better visibility. It was colored a deep, rich purple, which contrasted with the yellow-gold of the helmet and the hair perfectly. Finally, the horns were made somewhat shorter and were now colored white instead of being the same color as the helmet previously. This look is one that both expressive and memorable, perfect for a professional sports team.
1997 – 2001
After the second iteration of the Minnesota Vikings logo was released in 1966, so great was this new version that the team used it for the next three decades. It was in 1997 that the team decided to tweak the design slightly to make some elements of it more visible, similar to the outline added to the otherwise unchanged Dallas Cowboys logo.
The golden-yellow of the helmet and the hair was not changed, not was the pink of the Viking’s face. The overall design was made cleaner, with the use of digital design tools to clean up and smooth out the strokes of the logo’s design.
The one element that was changed however was the purple band that ran around the helmet. In the previous iteration of the logo, the purple colored band was colored a shade so dark that unless you looked at it closely, and with a bright enough light, you would think that it was a shade of black. This time however, to ensure that the band was easily visible on the uniforms and various merchandise, the shade was lightened by several degrees to ensure that the purple was visible, and contrasted well.
2002 – 2009
With the start of the 21st century bringing with it new design aesthetics, the Minnesota Vikings decided to tweak their logo again in 2002. However, with most of the visual elements bordering on perfection, the team had a hard time figuring out what to change.
The only thing they could tweak in the hope of seeing some improvement was the purple band on the helmet. This time they made the purple shade a few degrees darker. However, they deepened the shade for a more regal, luxurious look to it, leveraging its known from color theory principles.
This new purple contrasted far better with the golden-yellow than either of the previous iterations, standing out and drawing the eye to the most important element of the design – the horned helmet.
2010 – 2012
Despite the better visuals, the Vikings franchise decided to revamp their logo again for the 2010 season. This time, still fiddling with the purple band, they decided to lighten it just enough that it could still be viewed as purple in dark surroundings, while still deep enough to retain that regal feel.
The result was a purple shade that was quite close to the purple shade used on the logo today, albeit the rest of the color combinations in the design may not be the same.
2013 – Present
Finally, the latest change to the design was in 2013, when the franchise decided to revamp it for the new Nike uniforms being introduced. To make the best of this opportunity, they decided to lighten the overall color palette of their logo similar to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers logo of 2014, making it brighter and more visible at long distances, especially on TV.
This meant that the dark golden-yellow was now a brighter yellow, with the deeper purple standing out in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Moreover, the moustache of the Viking was made longer, while the braid was made thicker and smaller. The horns were also made thicker, with the points made shorter with thicker bases compared to the previous iterations. Overall, the result was a stockier, more muscular-looking logo, which lent well to the Nordic origins of the franchise and its symbol.
To sum up the topic, the Minnesota Vikings logo is considered somewhat an anomaly in the sport, similar to the New Orleans Saints logo. Both of these franchise symbols have a historical significance, and a cultural background to their origin. As such, neither of these symbols have seen much drastic changes over their time in the NFL.
However, such symbols are often rare, as many of the teams playing do not have something that ties their entire fan base up into one single symbol. Or rather, they have not discovered it yet. It does not even have to culturally significant; it just needs to find a way to develop a community of people that agree on a single point.
So, if you are looking to create a timeless logo, then this article on the Minnesota Vikings logo history is the perfect place to start.
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