Results tagged ‘ Logos ’

Your October 2013 Re-Branding Review

Here on the  blog, the recent content theme has been “covering in-season topics that I didn’t get around to covering during the season itself.” But out there in the real world, the biggest news on the MiLB front has been a topic near and dear to many of you: branding.

Over the past week, there has been one team launch (the El Paso Chihuahuas), one new identity (the Akron RubberDucks), and three sets of new logos (Arkansas Travelers, Charlotte Knights, and Rochester Red Wings). This post, number #999 in Ben’s Biz Blog history, attempts to make sense of it all in a crisp and concise fashion.

October 22: El Paso Chihuahuas (read my MiLB.com story HERE)

cheewawa

 

In my nearly eight years of covering Minor League branding efforts, none elicited as strong a reaction as October 22’s announcement that El Paso’s new Triple-A team would be called “The Chihuahuas.” The comment section of the MiLB.com article linked to above serves as a pretty good summation of the initial reaction, about 1/3 incredulous, 1/3 angry and embarrassed, and 1/3 delighted.

“Chihuahuas” is aggressively kid-friendly and completely independent of any overt reference to the parent club (in this case, the Padres), which is a trend that should be familiar to anyone who follows this industry. In recent years Brandiose has been behind  IronPigs, Flying Squirrels, Storm Chasers, and RailRiders, so why not Chihuahuas? Why not anything?

My Take: While I like the color scheme and logo, the “Chihuahuas” name leans just a bit too ridiculous for my taste and was in fact my least favorite of the five “finalists” in the “Name the Team” contest (Aardvarks, Buckaroos, Desert Gators, Sun Dogs). Yes, the players come and go, but it’s a little off putting to me that men competing at Minor League Baseball’s highest level have to take the field with “Chihuahuas” emblazoned across the chest.

That said, the team did a phenomenal job in regard to creating a buzz not just in the community but nationally, and now they have the opportunity to build an entire brand around something very unique. As is so often the case, I feel that once people get used to the name they’ll not just tolerate it but embrace it. Myself as well, probably.

Also, as an aside: Holding a Name the Team “contest” in advance of announcing a new name is a great way to generate publicity. But these contests are disingenuous in that they rarely, if ever, actually take fan opinion into account. Is this advance buzz worth the ill will generated when the name chosen doesn’t reflect public consensus in any way, shape or form? It won’t happen, but I’d love it if a team came right out and explained the paternalistic mindset that informs these decisions: “You fans mean well, but since you live in a market that was heretofore without Minor League Baseball you have no idea how the industry operates and therefore no real idea what would truly make for a good team name. Feel free to argue impotently amongst yourselves while us professionals do our jobs, as in the end everything will turn out alright. We guarantee it.”

October 23: Arkansas Travelers (Read my MiLB.com story HERE).

travelers

The Travelers’ motivation for creating a new set of logos (designed, once again, by Brandiose) was two-fold. Firstly, the team wanted to streamline and simplify an identity that had become a bit of an unwieldy hodgepodge in recent years. Second, new logos represented a good way to generate buzz and momentum as the Travs enter a 2014 season in which they will serve as hosts of the Texas League All-Star Game.

My take: I like it. The Travs’ have a history in Little Rock that goes back over 100 years, and that’s something that they’re understandably proud of. The new logos are correspondingly sleek, simple and traditional (the horse references the “Arkansas Traveler” folktale that resulted in the team name in the first place), and rumor has it that there may be more to unveil later in the offseason.

10/24: Charlotte Knights (read my MiLB.com piece HERE)

KNIGHTS

The Knights are moving into a brand-new downtown ballpark in 2014, and with the new digs comes this new set of logos. Here’s what general manager Scott Brown told me:

“Charlotte is nicknamed ‘The Queen City’ after Queen Charlotte, so, moving forward, we wanted to capture royalty as our theme. The time was ripe to do this, because even though we’re only two miles away [from the previous home of Knights Stadium] we’re now inside the city limits. The Knights are defending the Queen City.”

My Take: Similar to the Travs, I like this sleek and relatively simple re-brand as it serves as a great way to kickstart what is a truly exciting new era for the Knights. And while I’m ignorant of pretty much everything beyond the world of baseball, several people on Twitter pointed out that it is somewhat similar to the logos of the collegiate UCF Knights and Army Black Knights. This could be seen as a negative, as well as the fact that the logo on the far right seems to depict a seahorse in the midst of suicide. But, again: I’m a fan.

10/29: Akron RubberDucks (read my MiLB.com story HERE)

akron_rubberducks_480x270_mxmv0iyx_y0cxrxkv

After 17 seasons the Aeros are no more, as Akron’s Double-A franchise has scrapped that in favor of “RubberDucks.” This is all part of owner Ken Babby’s attempt to revitalize what had been an ailing franchise, and is sure to be accompanied by a veritable onslaught of duck-themed promotions in 2014 and beyond. The “Rubber” in the team’s name refers to Akron’s standing as “Rubber Capital of the World,” but even with this local tie-in the name generated a near-Chihuahuas level of internet commentary (best characterized as a mix of gentle snark and faux outrage).

My Take: When I first heard the “RubberDucks” name I winced a little bit, thinking it too cartoonish and child-like. It has grown on me somewhat, however, due to the aforementioned local tie-in, sharp and eye-catching logo set, and a general faith in the Akron front office. And just a thought, but might Akron’s “Rubber capital of the world” status have something to do with its steadily-declining birth rates?

November 1: Rochester Red Wings (read team press release HERE).

RED

Less a re-brand than an update, this Studio Simon creation highlights mascot Spike’s ever-increasing commitment to the weight room. Pretty soon he’s going to using the #riseandgrind hashtag on Twitter.

My Take: While far less splashy than the four new logos talked about above, this is a nice re-imagining of an iconic brand (the Red Wings are the oldest team in all of Minor League Baseball). Studio Simon always does good work.

And thus concludes Ben’s Biz Blog post #999. I still don’t know what I’m doing for 1000, so it might take a while to appear. Any suggestions?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Market Saturation and Wireless Communication

Among this year’s crop of new Minor League logos, surely the most striking was the Lexington Legends’ away cap. It features a mustache, and nothing else. Or, if you prefer images to words, it features this:

lex

By adopting such a look, the Legends were clearly aiming to make an impact outside of their market. Ty Cobb, the team’s graphic designer, acknowledged as much when I spoke with him at the time of the logo’s unveiling.

“Minor League Baseball is all about the ‘wow’ factor, and we wanted to go beyond the normal stuff you’d see at the ballpark,” said Cobb, whose name is totally unremarkable. “And we wanted to be the team to do this first, to have a mustache on a hat. Our mascot, he actually has a mustache, so we’re not just hopping on a fad. … We’re going to be easily recognizable when on the road. Fans can just look at the mustache.”

As the Legends hoped, many fans have done more than just look at the mustache. They’ve gone out and bought it. As of today, the team has sold the hat in 45 out of 50 states en route to their goal of “mustache domination.” Or, if you prefer images to words:

domination2

For the most part, this is a simple matter of demographics as Alaska, Montana, Maine and Vermont are among the ten least-populated states. But Arkansas? What’s up with that? Nearly three million people live there — including those who are fans of fellow Royals affiliates the Northwest Arkansas Naturals — and yet none have sprung for a hat.

(Perhaps because headwear would only sully their beauty? As I learned last season, Arkansans are nothing if not beautiful. Just scroll through this blog post for proof!)

All of this begs the question — has any team ever sold a particular piece of headwear in all 50 states? Or will the Legends be the first?

Once again it is I, cold and alone, who asks the questions that no one else dares to.

Moving on to other matters, let this be your thrice-monthly reminder that my Promo Preview column runs every Tuesday on MiLB.com. Click HERE to read the latest edition, which is virtually hot off of the virtual presses.

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Included within this week’s column is a write-up on Thursday’s “Manager Cell Phone Night” in Omaha, which pays tribute to emerging dugout-to-bullpen communication technologies. Since the column went to (virtual) press, promotions manager Ben Hemmen (the second-best Ben H. working in Minor League Baseball, after yours truly New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes), sent the following supplemental information. I, for one, love it:

— In honor of all Major League Baseball “Calls to the Bullpen” happening on cell phones this season, the Omaha Storm Chasers are offering anyone who brings in a rotary phone or old cell phone for donation a “buy one box seat, get one box seat for FREE” ticket special.

— All “Calls to the Bullpen” will come with a special surprise from Jirsch [Manager Mike Jirschele]. We will also unveil never before heard or seen manager to manager phone calls, voicemails and texts on the videoboard.

 And since you can do everything on a cell phone these days, other exciting offers, deals, competitions, and games will take place at Thursday’s game:

— There will be a Facebook challenge that night for a FREE night at a future game in the Safeco Insurance/ Manager Mike Jirschele Dugout suite.

— If you e-mail the Team Store at the game that night (stormfront@omahastormchasers.com), you will receive a coupon for a special offer.

— A few lucky fans who use twitter on Thirsty Thursday and hashtag #BudLight or #Pepsi to @omastormchasers at the right time will have enjoy a beverage on the house.

— The person who posts the best picture of Manager Mike Jirschele to Instagram will win an autographed Mike Jirschele cell phone. 

I was going to end this post with a picture of Mr. Jirschele, but in my quest to find a photo of him I inadvertently stumbled upon this shot of Alice Cooper and Mike Moustakas. Love it to death:

alice_moose

photo: royals.mlblogs.com

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Never-Ending Happening

I’m posting this on a Friday afternoon, and on a Friday afternoon there’s only one way to do things: Bouillabaisse style!

So let’s do it! I’ve got lots to share with you, starting with a new logo straight from the heart of Appalachia. 

astroz

Greeneville’s new look is a response to similar changes made by the parent club and in this regard they are the Bluefield and Dunedin of 2012. (That reference is apropos, but I’m not going to take the time to contextualize it. I have a press release to quote!)

Sez the team:

The new Astros identity features a full star logo with a block letter ‘G’ in the middle of the star. The Astros home caps will feature this logo on a solid blue cap while the road caps will be solid orange.

The G-Stros (does anyone call them that?) change is permanent, so now let’s move on to something of a “one night only” variety. On July 12th, the Erie SeaWolves will be donning these nautical duds:

Niagara Jersey FBThese jerseys are the result of the SeaWolves partnership with the Flagship Niagara League, an organization that is seeking to promote its Tall Ships Festival.

I realize that this explanation raises more questions than it does answers. In brief: Lake Erie was the site of key 19th-century naval battles, and the Tall Ships festival (which does indeed feature tall ships) commemorates this history. Read more HERE.

Now we must proceed from theme jerseys to alternate ones, as the Mississippi Braves have somehow managed to fit “Mississippi” across the chest of this navy blue number:

bravez

I’d link to a press release with more info, but there doesn’t seem to be one. All I can tell you is you can buy these jerseys for $175 at the M-Braves team store. I guess in this case the “M” in “M-Braves” stands for “mum’s the word.”

Transitioning from the occasional to the regular, the new-look Buffalo Bisons recently unveiled their 2013 uniforms.

bisonzA bit more from the Bisons:

In the creation of their new uniforms, the Bisons paid special attention to popular team jerseys from the past. The use of a ‘Scarlet Red’ lettering and ‘Reflex Blue’ numbers on the front of the ‘Ice White’ home and gray road uniforms was taken from the jerseys worn by the team in the early years of Coca-Cola Field. A ‘Hitting Buster’ has also returned to the team’s official on-field cap, a look Bisons fans have long enjoyed from those first seasons at the ballpark. 

Meanwhile, one of the rarest of logo creatures was released into our midst this past week. A ballpark logo, this one for the Birmingham Barons’ currently under-construction Regions Field. I will refrain from editorializing, because words only get in the way of images.

The image:

baronz

I’ll close, as I often do, with something out of left-field (not literally, in most cases).

How’s THIS for a staff bio pic?

shiner

According to the GreenJackets, Kyle’s shiner was obtained while playing in a staff basketball game. Reminder to all: never play basketball with the staff of the Augusta GreenJackets.

Okay, this post isn’t quite over yet due to my desire to do some ponderous professional pontificating.

And what I have been pondering lately is whether or not to make some changes to this blog in regards to the frequency with which I post. These days I average about three entries a week, with each post (allegedly) having some substance in that it is at least 400 words long and often covers multiple topics.

But perhaps more timely “Quick Hit” or “Short Hop” or “Biz Quick” posts would be a good strategy to utilize as well? The idea here is that whenever some particularly news/buzz-worthy content appears, I would immediately generate a short post. The plus side is timely and engaging material and more of it, but the potential negative is that this approach would cheapen the product and make this blog just another cheap cranker-outer of disposable content.

Does this debate exist strictly in my own head? Probably. Am I talking to myself as I write this? Definitely. I guess the takeaway here is that after 5+ years and 900+ posts I care about this blog more than I’d like to admit, especially in regard to how the content is packaged and presented. So, if you have opinions on this (or any other pertinent matter), please get in touch. If you don’t have any opinions on this, that’s okay too. If I was you then I wouldn’t either.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Mustaches Amidst the Mythical

In one of last week’s posts, I detailed a triumvirate of satirical responses that Minor League teams had come up with in regard to recent events. Well, there’s always more where that came from. One endeavor that I failed to include involved the Eugene Emeralds, who uncovered a bit of fortuitous news in the same week that they unveiled their new Sasquatch logos.

primary sasquatch

Take it away, press release, the way you have oh so many times before:

In the same week that the Eugene Emeralds Baseball Club released their new Sasquatch inspired logo, researchers have released a study finding DNA links between humans and the legendary Bigfoot.  “Genetically, the Sasquatch are a human hybrid with unambiguously modern human maternal ancestry,” reads a statement released by former veterinarian Melba T. Ketchum, the lead researcher of the study. “Researchers’ extensive DNA sequencing suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago.”

 The Emeralds have fielded questions from fans all week inquiring about the association between the Eugene Emeralds and the new Sasquatch logo.  “Now it is clear,” said Ems General Manager Allan Benavides,  “How is Eugene linked to Bigfoot?  Well, we are all linked by DNA.  You know, science.”

Fans have also been concerned that the introduction of the Sasquatch logo means the end of the loveable bright green bear mascot Sluggo. While Sasquatch is not taking over for Sluggo, the Emeralds are looking into the potential of having a live animal mascot at home games similar to the Universities of Colorado, Georgia and Texas.  The organization is seeking a group of nature enthusiast interns (unpaid of course) to search out a live Bigfoot.  Applications for this internship can be emailed to info@emeraldsbaseball.com or mailed to PO Box 10911, Eugene, OR 97440.

Initial plans are to use Bigfoot as the world’s largest batboy.  The team has petitioned the league to have umpires undergo wilderness training to mitigate the risk of on-field attacks.

I queried the Emeralds, via Twitter, regarding the response to this unpaid internship offer. They report that they have indeed been contacted by interested applicants, and have even been in touch with a local high school’s “Squatch Club.”

Stay tuned…

For a less-recent example of excessive hair on the baseball diamond, check out this 2011 West Michigan Whitecaps innovation: the Logan Hoch cam!

Finally, fans of Minor League Baseball, movies, and the intersection of the two might enjoy my recent article on the film Parental GuidanceIt stars Billy Crystal as Fresno Grizzlies announcer Artie Decker, and the opening scene was filmed at Chukchansi Park.

frezzzzz

Crystal chatting up the Grizzlies during a break in filming

The article I wrote was, naturally, quite baseball-centric. But I’d like to make it known that, above and beyond the MiLB connection, Parental Guidance is a quality family movie. Yes, it suffered at times as a result of trying to be all things to all people, but it had heart, was well-written and acted, and even included a Ralph Branca cameo. In looking at some of the negative reviews it got online, my response is “Lighten up!” Making a film that can really and truly appeal to the whole family is a delicate balancing act, and Parental Guidance succeeded far more than it failed.

All of this, on some level, is a metaphor for Minor League Baseball itself.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

New Looks for the New Year

The Year in Blogging 2013 now commences, with post #899 in Ben’s Biz history. This post shall begin, as they all do, with a far shorter introduction than the over-the-top soul searching that was initially written and then mercifully deleted.

Let’s begin by looking at some new logos that may or may not have slipped through the cracks of your radar (btw, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to employ more mixed metaphors). New logos such as that which will be sported by the St. Lucie Mets in 2013 and beyond:

stlucie1

The above picture is taken from the team’s Facebook page, as a supposed “new uniforms” article on the team’s website simply links to a blank promotion schedule. Fortunately the local TC Palm is there to fill in the information void, as their article included the following quotes from Mets director of Florida operations Paul Taglieiri.

“We wanted to stay with what the big club was doing and also add our own touches to it,” he told the paper. “I love the orange. We moved the black away from the uniform, and it really has a Florida look to it. And I love Florida Mr. Met — it gives us our own identity as our own team.”

Taglieiri also noted that the Mets considered a total identity overhaul, but decided that a continued alignment with the parent club would be a more prudent course of action.

“We thought about getting away from the Mets and every time we considered something new like the St. Lucie Squid or the Salamanders or the Sand Sharks, we just coming back to the Mets,” Taglieri said. “That’s what Port St. Lucie is. We felt it would have done us an injustice. It made sense to stay with the Mets and change up the look a little bit.

So there you have it.

Another team that changed up their look a little bit was the Peoria Chiefs, a move precipitated by their affiliation switch from Chicago to St. Louis.

pc13

The team has issued a press release detailing the triumvirate of new hats and jerseys that shall be sported in 2013. Read it HERE, and check out corresponding PDFs that show both the hats and the jerseys.

And, finally, how about a good old-fashioned anniversary logo? The Frederick Keys would like you to know that they are now old enough to rent a car:

Keys_25th

I’ll end this post with one of many videos I somehow didn’t get around to posting during the season. This one, in which a locomotive confirms its Montgomery baseball allegiances, is a 23-second classic that I will have to link to since I am having some embed problems at the moment.

Watch it HERE. I command you.

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benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Instant Interview: Dan Simon (of Studio Simon) on Winter Meetings Logos

Prior to the Winter Meetings, I made it be known that I would be willing to conduct an “instant interview” with any attendee interested in doing one. A whopping two people ended up taking me up on it, the first of whom shall be featured today: Dan Simon.

While you may not recognize his name, Simon’s work is familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in Minor League Baseball. He’s the man behind Studio Simon, the Louisville-based design firm responsible for dozens of logos throughout the MiLB landscape (including recent efforts such as the Erie SeaWolves and Aberdeen IronBirds.) He’s also the man behind this, the official logo of the Winter Meetings themselves:

meetingslogo

In this brief Q and A, Dan sheds a little light on the history of the Winter Meetings logo and the philosophies and strategies that guide the process.

Ben’s Biz (aka: “The Guy Typing This”): How long have you been designing the Winter Meetings logo?

Dan Simon: The first one was 2003, New Orleans. The reason for it was because Brian Earle, who at the time was director of licensing for Minor League Baseball, saw that [offseason] events like the NFL Draft and, later, the Combine, were now branded. Similarly, Brian wanted to brand the Winter Meetings as what they are: one of the biggest, if not the biggest, offseason events in all of sports.

And it wasn’t just about what the Winter Meetings were, but what they should be. We certainly can’t take all of the credit for it, but the growth of the Meetings to where they are today started to happen when they were branded as an important event. That was Brian’s vision, and that was the result.

Ben’s Biz: So what are the key elements of a good Winter Meetings logo?

Dan Simon: I had already done two Super Bowl logos —  XXXVI in New Orleans and XXXVII in San Diego. Both of those events were branded to be city-specific and we wanted to brand the Winter Meetings similarly. People are coming from all over the United States, to this one place, and we wanted the identity to reflect the destination. The first one we did, in New Orleans, had a jazz musician in it. 2004, in Anaheim, represented southern California’s car culture and Dallas 2005 had steer horns and barbed wire.

In the future, maybe we won’t be site specific. We’ve already done two in Orlando [site of the 2013 Meetings], so maybe we’ve already covered the appropriate visual references…Now we may be looking to do a logo that is more about baseball and the Winter Meetings than it is the destination. I don’t know if we’ll necessarily go that way, but it’s something that we’ve discussed.

And then, in 2006: Orlando's citrus groves

Orlando 2006: citrus groves

2010

Orlando 2010: What a croc

Ben’s Biz: What was the thought process behind this year’s logo?

Dan Simon: Nashville is the Music City, of course, and 2007’s logo had a music theme as well….There are other things about Nashville, but that’s what people really know about it and so we wanted to re-visit that theme.

There’s also the Trade Show and Job Fair. Those are secondary logos, the children of the Winter Meetings logo, which is the main logo. They’re not meant to look exactly alike, but the Trade Show and Job Fair should look like they were born out of the primary Winter Meetings logo. We used a record-containing shape for the Trade Show and a guitar pick for the Job Fair, so it’s all music related. But it all starts with the jukebox.

The primary logo and its two “children”:

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bts

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Thanks, Dan, for taking the time to speak with me. If you’d like to share something related to your experiences within the world of Minor League Baseball, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. (Seriously — if you hesitate I will be offended.)

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Asparagus: The Details

As this will be the last post of November, I may as well lead it off with the topic that always dominates this soon-to-be-expired stretch of the calendar: new logos. It was helpfully pointed out to me earlier this week that I had neglected this recent entry to the alternate logo canon. And what an entry it is:

This one’s courtesy of the Stockton Ports, who will sport this character on their cap during each and every Friday home game next season. The team explains thusly:

The Ports new logos honor Stockton’s heritage as the largest in-land port in California and the Asparagus Capital of the World. A new character, 5 O’clock Dock, is the centerpiece of the identity, brandishing his baseball tattoos and asparagus club.

My favorite line in the press release, however, is the one that notes that the Ports have become “the first professional sports team to use Asparagus green.” Congrats on that accomplishment, guys, but considering the team name and asparagus theme I am disappointed by the failure to incorporate an aromatic “P.”

In other California League headwear news, the Lake Elsinore Storm announced last month that they are now selling 20th anniversary throwback hats that commemorate the team’s original look.

The Storm’s current “eye” logo has long been one of the most popular marks in Minor League Baseball, and that logo can be traced back to designs such as the above. (The eyes used to be part of a larger “Storm” motif, see?) Perhaps that’s a lesson for other clubs — take a particularly striking element of your current logo, then isolate and amplify. Sometimes a minimalist approach can work wonders.

I’ve been posting less videos on this blog than I have in the past, partially because Twitter has become a good forum for that and partially because watching too many of them makes me feel as if my life is slipping away in slow motion right before my eyes.

But, that said, I wanted to single out this recent Fresno Grizzlies production because it is one of the best videos I have seen in quite some time. For one, it highlights a simple and memorable trick that should be part of every mascot playbook. For two, the production is great. (That is certainly not a given when it comes to team-released offseason videos.)

watch?v=vciUTJruLdk&list=UUwivBU_T238VXsk2Kn0dqDA&feature=plcp

Was the fan who got his hat stolen planted there by the team? Almost certainly. Does it matter? Not at all.

And since I’m posting videos, how ’bout this? In Pensacola, the Blue Wahoos have transformed their ballpark into a so-called “Winter Wonderland.” That’s not easy to do in the Florida panhandle!

Skating rink, toboggan slide, jumbo board games, Santa Claus, and more:

watch?v=lnk5UkapEBo&list=UUhxFRSBTWX4fjt5addCXz4A&index=2&feature=plcp

Finally, I’ll close with the following: the basketball trick shot dudes of Dude Perfect visited Frisco’s Dr Pepper Ballpark because of course they did. All of human history has led us to this moment.

And that’s all I’ve got for today. I’ll see you in Nashville next week, should you be in Nashville next week.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

New Logo Alert: The Emeralds Increase Their Northwest Footprint

In 2010, prior to moving into their new home of PK Park, the Eugene Emeralds updated their nature-themed logo so that it looked like this:

But minor tweaks to an inherently conservative look were clearly not enough for the Emeralds, who, under the leadership of GM Allan Benavides, have become one of the Pacific Northwest’s more irreverent and forward-thinking operations (Remember when I visited there?) On Tuesday evening the team held a public event at Eugene’s Ninkasi Brewery Company in order to unveil this mythical monstrosity as their new primary logo.

Yep, that’s a rampaging Sasquatch brandishing a tree in a somewhat threatening manner. Of course it is. In an email, Benavides took the time to explain how this all came to be.

Branding a team around a color (Emerald) was a tough hurdle for us at first.  A number of different options were considered including themes that involved the forests, trees and various woodland creatures. However, once we started digging more into the name, the answer became pretty clear.

We’re the Emeralds because of the lush emerald green environment that is Eugene and what lives in the Northwest forest? Ultimately, we felt Sasquatch was the best fit to represent the mystique of the Northwest.

The logo, designed by the seemingly ubiquitous duo that is Brandiose, is unique: the Ems became the first team to use a Sasquatch as their primary logo, as well as the first team to use neon green as their primary color. From the press release:

Sasquatch biting the tree will be the emblem on the home hat while the foot-shaped “E” will serve as an alternate. The road uniforms will feature the “Eugene” script with feet on each end. Home, away and alternate uniforms will be released in the spring.

Biting the tree:

Alternate:

Road script:

Anyone who wears this alternate cap is going to end up footing the bill:

And then there’s this little number, in which the Sasquatch channels his inner Mary Poppins:

Eugene is a weird place, as I learned when I visited this summer, and now the team has a suitably weird logo. In the press release, Jason Klein of Brandiose acknowledged the city’s effect on the design process:

“Eugene is a hotbed of countercultural ideas,” said Klein. “From Sasquatch sightings to hippy culture, the Ems are honoring Eugene’s eccentricities with a few of their own.”

It’s currently logo season here in the world of MiLB. For more blog posts on recent re-brandings, kindly check out the following:

Aberdeen/Buffalo/West Michigan

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hudson Valley

Lexington/Erie

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Metallic Birds, Batting Buffalo and Feline Waves

The Aberdeen IronBirds must have been well-rested after the holiday weekend, because this morning they set (what I believe) is the record for the earliest new logo unveiling in the history of Minor League Baseball. Beginning at 6:15 a.m., noted baseball bros Cal and Bill Ripken (of IronBirds’ ownership group Ripken Baseball) embarked on a whirlwind early morning tour of local television stations in order to debut the team’s new logo for 2013 and beyond:

As any seasoned MiLB logo observer will be able to tell, the above mark is a Studio Simon creation. (The team relayed to me via Twitter that “the main design idea” came courtesy of Bill Ripken.) The bird seen above replaces the more overtly cartoonish anthropomorphic plane that previously served as the team’s primary logo.

The IronBird featured in the primary logo is even more prominently featured on the hat:

In a press release put out by the team, Bill Ripken employed three verbs over a five-word stretch in an attempt to explain the reason for the new logo. That’s no easy feat!

“The IronBirds are evolving to continue to remain on baseball’s leading edge,” said Bill Ripken, co-founder and executive vice president of Ripken Baseball. “This is why we wanted a fresh new look and feel to connect with families, and resonate with fans of all ages.”

Another team to have recently jumped aboard the new logo train are the Buffalo Bisons. The team’s previous blue-tinged logo made an overt attempt to highlight their affiliation with the New York Mets, but with the dissolution of that relationship the Bisons have instead chosen to assume an identity distinct of the parent club (which is now the Toronto Blue Jays).

This logo isn’t “new” so much as it is a callback to a look employed by Buffalo during the years 1988-97. Sez the team:

“It was important for us to reestablish our own team identity with our new logo. Our fans have continued to express their fondness of the red, white and blue logo from the late ’80s and early ’90s at the ballpark. We feel this new logo not only pays tribute to that history but gives the team an exciting new look for the future,” said Mike Buczkowski, Vice President/General Manager of the Bisons.

And far be it for me to gratuitously point out press release typos, but this one is really funny:

For the past four seasons, the Bisons adopted a blue and orange theme with a more atomically correct bison charging out of the city landscape.

And, finally, there are the West Michigan Whitecaps. The club has unveiled an array of supplemental looks in advance of their upcoming 20th anniversary campaign.

The “Olde English” logo will now serve as the team’s official road cap. And, wow, that alternate logo on the far right is certainly one of the more ridiculous to come down the pike this offseason. It takes the team’s long-standing primary logo and combines it with a tiger because, you know, the Detroit Tigers are the Whitecaps’ parent club. Here’s one more cut-and-paste job for you, before I end my blogging day:

“I’m excited about these new logos,” said Whitecaps president Scott Lane. “They strengthen the Whitecaps’ identity with the Detroit Tigers in a very literal way for our fans, who are also Tigers fans. I think the logos are a little more edgy and youthful and will appeal to the younger generation of fans.”

Thanks, as always, for your Ben’s Biz Blog patronage. I am evolving to continue to remain your #1 Minor League Baseball news source.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Where There’s a Quill There’s a Way

So, a proper article on all of this appeared on MiLB.com yesterday evening, but in the interest of redundancy and poor time management let me reiterate: the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre International League entity  formerly known as the Yankees (and, prior to that, the Red Barons) are now known as the RailRiders.

That image seen above is, of course, a porcupine straddling streetcar tracks. To explain why, let me quote liberally from an up-and-coming young writer by the name of Benjamin Hill:

The name-the-team contest was conducted online and fans were able to choose their top three candidates. While RailRiders received the most first-place votes, the name that appeared on the most ballots was Porcupines. That helps explain the team’s primary logo, designed by San Diego-based Brandiose, which features a porcupine straddling trolley tracks atop the word “RailRiders” in a stylized cardinal red and gold font.

The team announced the name at a gala open-to-public event that they dubbed “The Big Reveal.” And here’s how they revealed it:

As a staunch advocate for the increased deployment of Black Sabbath in public situations, I love that the team chose “Iron Man” as the soundtrack to their unveiling video. However, this comment on the RailRiders Facebook page showed that there was, in fact, a better option.

Why would you use ironman instead of crazy train for this promo?

Touche.

The RailRiders have since posted a plethora of “Big Reveal” photos on their Facebook page (which, as of this writing, still lists them as the Yankees). As you can see, the citizenry turned out in big numbers for the announcement:

Here’s SWB president Rob Crain (formerly of the Omaha Royals-turned-Storm Chasers) tossing t-shirts into the crowd after the announcement. When it comes to Minor League Baseball executives looking like hip-hop performers, this is about as close as you’re ever gonna get.

Of course, a lot of the online chatter regarding the new name has been negative. No opinion is illegitimate when it comes to personal taste, of course (unless it involves a continued affinity for so-called “Nu-metal”), but with team re-branding efforts it’s not so much a case of the name itself as it is how you use it. I’ve known Rob Crain since his days with Omaha, and he’s poised to bring an energetic and innovative operating style to a moribund and disconnected-seeming franchise that really needed an injection of personality. Combine that with the massive renovation to PNC Field taking place, and it seems apparent to me that the 2013 season will be one of the most successful in franchise history. More power to you, online commenters threatening to cancel their season ticket plans, but that to me is like breaking up with a beautiful and intelligent woman because you don’t like her new haircut.

As for RailRiders — if it’s good enough for Greg Legg it’s good enough for me! Legg, second from left in the below pic, is a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre baseball legend who suited up for the Red Barons from 1989-94. I was a fan of his throughout, as during that time I regularly attended SWB Red Barons games while visiting my grandparents in nearby Gouldsboro.

If only Jeff Grotewold and Steve Scarsone could have been there to join him!

Legg and his crony on the far left there are sporting the team’s road cap, which references the team’s Red Barons past. It’s probably my personal favorite aspect of the re-brand.

Anyhow, to sum it up, there are a stew of competing forces at work whenever a team unveils a new look and regardless of your opinion, my opinion or anyone else’s opinion it will take several years before one can say whether RailRiders has been a success or failure. Instead of repeating myself more than I already have, I’ll close by referring you to a point-counterpoint I engaged in back in 2010 when the Omaha Royals became the “Storm Chasers.”

Rob Neyer (then with ESPN): the Storm Chasers have joined “the ranks of the embarrassing.”

Me: There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Rob Neyer never acknowledged this “debate,” and maybe he never even knew it was taking place (he was probably too busy counting his baseball writing-derived fortune in some Scrooge McDuck-like lair), but nonetheless the phrase “ranks of the embarrassing” has since become part of my everyday lexicon and for that I thank him.

And, jeez, I got so caught up in the RailRiders that I forgot to mention this: in celebration of their upcoming 20th anniversary season, the Hudson Valley Renegades have unveiled a new set of logos!

Pertinent details, per the team:

The new home uniforms will consist of a solid white jersey, with Dutchess blue piping and the new Renegades script logo across the chest. The uniform number will also be Dutchess blue, with a white outline both on the front and back of the jersey. The home uniform pants will be white with Dutchess blue piping down each pant leg. The home cap will feature the Renegades mask logo on a solid black cap. The mask logo will be embroidered on the cap adding a raised element to the overall appearance.

Careful, Hudson Valley: a glowering blue-tinted raccoon is watching your every move!

And, oh, hey: since I’m rambling on and on about logos and seem to have a NYPL fixation, here’s one more for you before I go. The 2013 New York-Penn League All-Star mark, courtesy of the Connecticut Tigers.

Okay, that anchor should keep me from drifting any further. I’m quitting while I’m still ahead, even if I don’t know what it is I feel that I might be still ahead of.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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