The method behind the numbers in the Super Bowl logo

It may be a cultural institution, but even an event as big as the Super Bowl is liable to change its branding every once and awhile. While this February will see the arrival of the 49th annual Super Bowl tournament, the NFL is reportedly looking ahead even further to the 50th, which will see a significant alteration to the way it markets itself.

According to an article on the official website of that organization, the 2016 Super Bowl will be the first not to use Roman numerals in its logo since the 1970's. Instead, the image accompanying this article suggests that the NFL will use standard Arabic numbers, with a "50" in visible gold digits. Part of the reason seems to be that the Roman version of 50 would simply be the letter "L."

In an ESPN piece, NFL branding vice president Jamie Weston said that the association is making a "very powerful" statement with its branding. The following Super Bowl, number 51, will return to the Roman numerals in 2017. 

"When we developed the Super Bowl XL logo, that was the first time we looked at the letter L," she said. "Up until that point, we had only worked with X's, V's and I's. And, at that moment, that's when we started to wonder: What will happen when we get to 50?"

Such a design decision makes a big difference for an event as large as this, since the logo of any individual Super Bowl logo could apply to many different types of merchandise and signage surrounding the marketing. Smaller businesses also need to take logo designs into consideration, because a good one can be adapted to vinyl signs and other material.