This afternoon, the National Football League revealed its logo for the Super Bowl that will take place, in Santa Clara's Levi's Stadium, in 2016. The design, which features most of the standard components of a championship game logo—the NFL shield, the Lombardi Trophy, "Super Bowl" written out so as to avoid any confusion on the part of people who have overindulged in nachos and Michelob Light—is remarkable for one reason alone: It eschews Roman numerals in favor of plain old numerals. Super Bowl L, according to its visual branding, will be known as Super Bowl 50.
It's a tiny change, and also a big one: The NFL has been using Roman numerals in its Super Bowl branding since game V (5) in 1971. It will continue using Roman numerals after the 50th game is over. But the year-long Roman holiday—which will be taken, according to Jaime Weston, the league's vice president of brand and creative, "simply because the 'L' isn't as pleasing to the eye"—wasn't an easy decision. Because a logo, in the age of Brand Extension and Brand Reach and Big Merch, is much more than a simple image: It's a physical thing, and one that must be highly adaptable. It's an object that has to look good in many different contexts and settings and environments. (Which is to say, pretty much, on many different T-shirts and hats.)