Results tagged ‘ re-branding ’

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)

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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).

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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)

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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)

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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).

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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

All Will Be Revealed

This blog is rife with non-sequiturs, bizarre tangents and all manner of self-indulgent nonsense, so it’s likely that no one batted an eye at the intro to yesterday’s post. 

But my motives, they were ulterior. The stylized and oversized “A” that began the post was no mere homage to the reading habits of my youth. Rather, it was the latest clue in an internet-wide scavenger hunt currently being staged by Jason Klein and Casey White, the duo behind logo design and “creative ideas” company Plan B Branding.

Or, rather, the company formerly known as Plan B Branding. In a move most meta, this branding company is currently re-branding itself, and the scavenger hunt is a creative way in which to unveil the new name. Here’s how Casey and Jason are explaining their current endeavor:

Over the last decade we’ve made a number of great partners and now they’re helping us celebrate the unveiling of our new company name.

Each day a letter from our new name will be posted on one of our partner’s Websites. Clues will be posted here daily at 10am Pacific Time, to help you find the website featuring the letter of the day. The first person to email us the website and letter of the day will be our daily winner. All daily winners will be entered into a grand price drawing: we’ll dream up the winner’s very own personal logo.

The “A” posted here yesterday was the second letter to be unveiled, and the new name is currently listed as:

What could it be? Flatwhale? Placate Me? Beastmode? Your guess is as good, and most likely better, than mine.

Regardless of what the name ends up being, it seems to me that Jason and Casey are setting a good template for other teams and companies who may wish to re-brand themselves. This is creative, interactive, and fun. And, best of all, it gave me something fresh to write about in November!

Finally, it’ll be interesting to what the winner’s  “personal logo” ends up looking like. The options are limitless; personally, I’d insist on finding the middle ground between “lighthearted whimsy” and “crushing existentialist despair.”

And since we’re (somewhat) on the topic of design, let me bring your attention to an email I recently received from reader Jeremy Reiss. Reiss, a Louisville-based designer and art director, writes that he “recently completed a project I think you might find interesting. I took all the slang words and phrases surrounding the hitting aspect of baseball and illustrated them into a 12″ x 12″ letterpresses, 2-color print.  For those interested, I’ve made a limited edition (50) available for purchase online.”

This is my kind of thing, aesthetically:

For more info, or to order a print, check out Reiss’ website. And, remember, if you have something that might be of interest to readers of this blog then never hesitate to get in touch.

Let’s go ahead and end today’s post with a video sure to make you feel old. Everett’s latest edition of “Meet the AquaSox” features players born in the late ’80s and early ’90s talking about music made before they were born.

I was in fifth grade when New Kids on the Block were at their peak, and at the time I was offended by their very existence.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

A Plethora of Elevated Pursuits

It’s important to stay grounded, but nonetheless it’s become apparent to me that this blog is over-reliant on terrestrial perspectives. In order to shake things up, then, today’s post will feature some aerial views before returning to Earth.

We’ll start things off in flyover country, as the Indianapolis Indians recently staged a pre-game stunt that was (almost) out of this world. A squadron of Navy “Leap Frogs” parachuted into Victory Field prior to August 16′s ballgame, with Rear Admiral Scott T. Craig throwing out the first pitch. What follows is the video of their practice run that afternoon, giving us a bird’s eye view of the arduous journey from air to ground.

Not quite as high-flying, but airborne nonetheless, are our fine feathered friends the Great Lakes Loons. The team staged their annual “Raining Money” promotion on August 5, in which $2000 in one dollar bills was dropped onto the field from a helicopter. This year, the mad cash scramble was preceded by an excellently-produced short film entitled “The Sleepover,” which segued flawlessly into the promotion itself.

Seeking to retain this elevated position for as long as possible, we now travel to Lakewood, NJ. On August 20 the BlueClaws held their annual blood drive, an event preceded by an awareness-raising stint of roof-living by the appropriately-named “Roofman.”

“Roofman” is also known as “Ryan Ragan,” COO of the Central Jersey Blood Center. He spent five days on the roof prior to the drive, which resulted in a prolonged period of local radio and TV news attention. Here he is, in quieter times.

91 people ended up giving blood at the BlueClaws’ drive; meaning that the Roofman’s efforts were simultaneously not in vain and “in vein.” Life sure can be funny sometymes.  And, yes, that was an intentional spelling error in the previous sentence. In the spirit of the blood drive I was attempting to be “typo positive.”

We’ll conclude by focusing on a team whose spacebound aspirations may soon come to an end: the Akron Aeros. This traditionally aerodynamic entity is currently staging an online “re-branding contest,” with voting continuing through September 1.

While the option remains to keep the “Aeros” name, other possibilities include Gum Dippers, RubberDucks, Tire Jacks, and Vulcans. All of these names allude to Akron’s industrial past, primarily its status as a leading producer of rubber.

While I generally like team names that incorporate local history, it is my opinion that the alliterative pizazz of Akron Aeros remains superior to the new contenders. Will the voting public agree? Do you?

For now, things remain up in the air.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Headed In A New Direction

headshot_snowglobewombacher.JPGA couple of weeks ago, I asked my vast cadre of loyal readers to assist me in a most important task — the creation of a new blog head shot.

The response to this request was robust, which I very much appreciate. Still, I have put off sharing the submissions because I am wary of seeming narcissistic. Usually, I hide this off-putting trait beneath a cloud of false modesty and groan-inducing wordplay.

But the moment for action is now. What follows are some of the new profile pics I now have at my disposal.

Boomer and Me — Spending some quality time with the Williamsport Crosscutters’ inimitable mascot:

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All-Seeing Seer of the Scene

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Flippin’ Out:

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A Classic Updated for Modern Times

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Fair Condition

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The Worst Player in Yakima History

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Mona Lisa Was A Man

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Grating American Zero

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Pasta My Prime

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Reality

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On My Way to the Barber Pole Factory

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Attired Out

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J-I-N-G-O

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It Was Just A Phase

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You Can Do What You Wanna Do…

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I plan on using all of these headshots — and more — throughout the season. But, starting tomorrow, my identity will be this:

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What can I say? To see my face juxtaposed onto a Weird Al album cover is a dream come true.

Thanks to Chris McConney of the Reading Phillies for the Weird Al shot, also big thanks to:

Sarah Budd, Williamsport Cross
cutters (shots 1-2), Danny Wild, MiLB photo guru (3-5), Lauren Wombacher, Yakima Bears (6-7 and snowglobe), Cameron Wengrzyn, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (8-13), Jake Goldman, Astoria Astroplaneteers (14), Allison Moore, Greensboro Grasshoppers (15), and Robert Peters (16).

Feel free to keep sending ‘em and thanks again. I really appreciate it.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

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