Cincinnati Bengals is a professional football team that competes in the National Football League as a member club of the league’s AFC North division. After being dismissed as the Browns’ head coach by Art Modell in 1963, its founder Paul Brown had shown interest in establishing another NFL franchise in Cincinnati; however, he was refused because of a small volume of a town stadium.
In 1967, an ownership group led by Paul Brown was granted a franchise in the American Football League. Brown named the team the Bengals in order “to give it a link with past professional football in Cincinnati.” Another Cincinnati Bengals team had existed in the city and played in three previous American Football Leagues from 1937 to 1942.
However, possibly as an insult to Art Modell, or possibly as a homage to his start as a head coach to the Washington High, Brown chose the exact shade of orange used by his former team. He added black as the secondary color.
After Paul Brown died in 1991, a controlling interest in the team was inherited by his son, Mike Brown. In 2011, Mike Brown purchased shares of the team owned by the estate of co-founder Austin Knowlton and is now the majority owner of the Bengals franchise.
Meaning and History
Since the establishment, Cincinnati Bengals had six logos. They changed repeatedly, but each version depicted a tiger theme. Verlander Design designed the present Cincinnati Bengals emblem using the club’s official colors: black, orange, and white.
1968 – 1969
As the Cincinnati Bengals first logo, the team chose a Bengal tiger’s caricature, running with a football under its right arm. The animal is drawn in detail, and the chosen angle unveils the mouth with sharp fangs. There is a white helmet with another tiger’s head painted on its side in the upper left corner. The chinstrap of this helmet is undone.
1970 – 1980
As the club joined AFC Central Division, it changed its logo. They removed the cartoonish tiger, replacing it with a 2D helmet with the wordmark “Bengals” in block letters. The letters are black with a white outline. The font is without squiggles. The helmet is orange: Paul Brown chose a similar orange shade to the Cleveland Browns as an insult to his former colleague Art Modell. The shape of the logo is an exact match with the logo of the opposing team.
1981 – 1989
In 1981, Cincinnati Bengals introduced a new logo. Wordmark “Bengals” is gone, faceguard is bigger, and the outlines are more defined. The color scheme was also changed: orange became significantly darker. There are wavy lines, which simulate the tiger pattern on the helmet. Six black stripes of different lengths and thicknesses are stretching from above, slightly wriggling on the ends.
1990 – 1996
In 1990, another change in the Cincinnati Bengals logo. The shape of the winding stripes on the helmet has changed.
1997 – 2003
In 1997, Cincinnati Bengals used both Bengal tiger and their name on the logo. The tiger is leaping and going to land on its front paws. The animal is aggressive, as indicated by its exposed claws and a fierce face. There’s a white outline around the tiger, which separates it from the other elements.
There is a wordmark “Cincinnati Bengals,” which takes two lines. The first word is lowercase in white, and the second one is uppercase in orange with the white outline. “Bengals” is written with a slab serif font. Rough geometric shapes, big squiggles, and angularity are typical for this font. The background behind the wordmark is black.
2004 – Present
Designers from Verlander Design Studio created the Cincinnati Bengals logo in 2004. They removed the tiger and long words, only keeping the brief orange “B” covered with three black tiger stripes. The font is the same as in the previous version – slab serif without curves on the squiggles.
Three black lines with pointed ends cross the orange letter from above. Tiger pattern reminds of the striped helmet, which appeared on the logo in 1981. The debut of the new Cincinnati Bengals emblem was on April 22, two days before the NFL draft.