Michael Jordan

The story behind the Bulls' iconic logo and why it's still a global brand

The Bulls are the only NBA franchise that's never changed its logo, and it's a safe bet it never will


There is only one team in the NBA that has never changed its logo.

That team is the Chicago Bulls, and there's a good guess as to why that angry red cattle has stood the test of time.

For starters, it's a fantastic logo. Period.

While that would certainly be a good enough reason to stick with tradition, it probably has more to do with a guy named Michael Jordan. Doesn't it always?

As far as marketing goes, a sports brand being synonymous with the greatest, most famous athlete in human history is like winning the lottery. People associate the Bulls with winning. That's not a brand reputation you'd be wise to mess with, especially when not much winning has happened since.

At the end of the day, it could have been any logo. But It's hard to imagine a world in which the Jordan dynasty isn't draped in red, white and black against the backdrop of a pissed off, white-horned bull on tan hardwood.

There are two, possibly three, men to thank for that.

Dick Klein, founder and first owner of the franchise, wanted a team nickname that "denoted strength and power, tied into the city’s meatpacking tradition and the Chicago Amphitheater’s (first home court of the Bulls) proximity to the famed Chicago Stockyards," according to the team's official website. He suggested "Matadors" or "Toreadors" to his family as potential team names, and his son apparently responded with, "Dad, that's a bunch of bull!"

And thus, a mascot was born. Klein was particularly into the whole one syllable thing.

Dean Wessel, an American commercial designer, is widely cited as the brains behind the Bulls' logo.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Wessel designed the logo as a favor to Klein in exchange for free tickets to games. The two lived in the same neighborhood and had once coached Little League together.

"Mr. Wessel sketched the logo, coloring its face red at Klein's request and then, also at his request, adding the same color to the tips of the bull's horn to represent blood," the Chicago Tribune reported in a 2004 feature story.

It gets a little wonky. In a 2000 obituary, the Chicago Tribune credited an artist named Ted Drake, who designed Notre Dame's trademark leprechaun logo, with for designing the Bulls' symbol. Perhaps the two artists worked together on the project. We'll never know for sure.

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