Higher Amount of Brand Identity Changes in Hockey

Discussion in 'Fugu's Business of Hockey Forum' started by AllAbout813, Oct 25, 2011.

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  1. AllAbout813

    AllAbout813 Registered User

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    I was wondering about this today and was not really sure what section to put it in (or if this has already been discussed feel free to let me know, I couldn't find anything on it). Why does hockey have such a high rate of brand identity changes when compared to other sports (I suppose mainly football), and why is this so allowed. It seems every year there is a new logo or updated logo to least one team, as well as new colors and new jerseys and new alternate jerseys. Why does hockey experience such a high amount? When I look at football I can hardly pinpoint one drastic logo or color change (the falcons logo tweak being the most recent?).

    Any insight or thoughts why? I understand it is a great way to generate more money, but at the same time you can really confuse people who do not follow the sport as closely as others by always changing your teams look.
     
  2. Mayor Bee

    Mayor Bee Registered User

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    I think for the most part, it's fairly simple.

    Hockey, more so than the other sports, has an inordinate number of people who classify themselves as "traditionalists", who throw a screaming fit every time the slightest change is made. What makes it problematic is that so many teams have had looks that are truly hideous, but there's always pressure to "go back to (retro) look". A strong look can remain a strong look, but a weak look can somehow become better than a strong one if it's associated with a successful era.

    Look at Vancouver, for example, which has always struggled with establishing some type of identity. They begin with a decent color scheme and a pathetic logo, they go to a bizarre color scheme and an obscene overall look, they adjust the color scheme and bring a basic logo front and center, they overhaul the color scheme and go to a logo that promoted the ownership group, they do the old "go back to" color scheme with a more bland version of the previous logo, and they "go back to" the original look. At the end of the day, it's like no one ever said, "Y'know Gordon, maybe we need to sit down and come up with something that says 'This is the Vancouver Canucks'. We've had a stick in a rink, a spaghetti skate, a whale frozen in time, and a laughing Lego man, but not once in 40 years have we actually tried to establish ourselves."

    Calgary is an example of a team that has a basic logo that conveys the image, and a color scheme that's both flexible enough to allow for many different looks and basic enough that it doesn't stray too far from what it's supposed to be. Philadelphia hasn't changed their logo in 44 years, save for the brief silver-trimmed alternate.

    What people outside of the "non-traditional" areas don't realize is the extent of the backlash against something that doesn't fall in line with established parameters. Phoenix for years was mocked for having the most unique look in the NHL, and yet it incorporated native art motifs in an interesting way. The initial talk about Phoenix needing to go away entirely started to diminish...as soon as they went with a two-color palette and the most bland look in the league. People shut up about Columbus as soon as the CBJ ribbon logo was dropped. You get the idea.

    What we currently see is what's been termed "death by focus group". Teams are afraid of being too strong one way or the other, so they aim for a bland middle ground, where no one will love their look and no one will hate it.
     
  3. not a trapdoor

    not a trapdoor I swallowed my keys

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    I think it's partly because the NHL doesn't directly compare to say the MLB or NFL (within the US, anyway), it can't just sit there and expect the general public to care.

    Hockey, like Basketball is more of a niche sport. So it can't rely on a lot of "fairweather" fans to generate revenue - instead it relies on more dedicated fans of the sport. So many of the teams switch up their identities to generate more revenue.

    Looking at the NBA, the following teams have drastically changed their look/colours during their tenure: Golden State, Utah, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia, Cleveland, New Jersey & Washington. I'm ignoring tweaks to secondary colours/logos or switches in prominence of colours (San Antonio, New York, Orlando) and franchise relocations. That's 12 of 30.

    Looking at the NHL, we have Vancouver, LA, Anaheim, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Washington, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders. I'll throw in the reborn Winnipeg (different franchise, but essentially the same identity for the purposes of this discussion), which gives us 11/30.

    So the numbers are comparable. It's interesting that the "big"/"traditional" markets in both sports are generally absent from these lists - teams like New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, LA Lakers & Montreal Canadiens pretty much just have to be run reasonably well & continue to operate for the revenue to come in. It's the smaller or more marginal markets that are reinventing themselves to sell more shirts/jerseys/hats/bumper stickers.

    Given the revenue the NFL & MLB have flowing in, it doesn't surprise me that there's less reinvention. A team like the Pirates makes money without having to work at it, purely because there's so much money in the sport (and a revenue sharing model that essentially guarantees them a cut no matter what they do on the field). Selling more merchandise is of course nice, but it's gravy for them as long as they get a cut of the Yankee's revenue streams.

    Mayor Bee is correct about Hockey fans being fairly traditional - the more established & wealthier teams realise they'll make more money out of their established identities that they would out of the "travesty" of new designs. Let's be honest, I doubt that Leafs fans would buy a red & white jersey that's not some sort of commemorative (or 3rd) in great numbers. Instead they'd all whine about it.

    On the other hand a team with far less tradition like the Ducks changed their logo, colours - the whole shebang - because they didn't have the same tradition, nor do they have the guaranteed sellouts the Leafs have. Sure, many fans think the Ducks colours/logo are awful, but they're not battling 50 odd years of tradition when trying to sell the new colours to fans. So they'd rather upset the apple cart a little knowing that their relatively limited fanbase will refresh their wardrobe from eggplant & teal to black & gold over time - generating more merchandising sales than would have otherwise been the case.
     
  4. No Fun Shogun

    No Fun Shogun 34-38-61-10-13-15

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    Eh, I disagree. Every league has major brand changes, and I don't think that the NHL is more prone to it than anyone. Name changes are rare, but happen (Devil Rays to Rays, Bullets to Wizards to maybe Bullets again in the near future, Mighty Ducks to Ducks), relocations happen every once in a while, and uniform changes are fairly common (especially in the freaking NCAA this past year) and a good example of this professionally is what the Washington Wizards did this past offseason and what the soon-to-be Miami Marlins look like they're going to do this offseason. Plus, there are examples of teams that have, more or less, stuck to a single brand for the most part for decades in each sport, like the Red Wings and the Blackhawks (besides shifting around two alternate sweaters).
     
  5. LadyStanley

    LadyStanley RIP Fugu

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    Sharks and most NHL teams seem to have a season motto/theme.

    However, San Jose has used "This is Sharks Territory" since 2004 (with minor updates) as a basic advertising motif.
     
  6. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    Its simply a money chase for most, though in the Canucks case they are quite simply seriously sartorially challenged/dyslexic. Something like 7-10 versions since 1970, almost all of them with the exception of the throwback with a tweaked hockey stick on the rink version absolutely abysmal. I also agree with Mayor Bee's comments about the Coyotes original jerseys & color scheme. Their current version incorporates the old Red Army red & white motif in the worst possible way. Drab. Boring. Montreal, Chicago, Detroit, Philly, Boston, the Rangers & Columbus (absolutely excellent IMO) are the only teams that seem to "get it" & have a clue as far as Im concerned. The Leafs just keep messing up, likely deliberately in order to push sales, while teams like LA, Anaheim, Nashville & others really need to get a grip & do something about that. Please...
     
  7. IU Hawks fan

    IU Hawks fan They call me IU

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    marketing campaigns are an entirely different topic..
     
  8. IU Hawks fan

    IU Hawks fan They call me IU

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    I agree with No Fun,though. It really isn't that much more common in hockey than other sports. Baseball has had a lot in the last 10 years or so: Rays, Dbacks, Astros, have all gone through radical shifts. Plenty others have made changes, such as the Padres dropping orange, Twins got rid of pinstripes on road unis, Rangers went from red hats to blue hats and then readopted red hats and having both, many teams went through black phases, etc.
     
  9. mouser

    mouser Business of Hockey

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    While they don't tend to be as pronounced on color changes, a large number of NFL teams have made changes over the years. Some of the ones that come to mind:

    Tampa Bay - orange/white to red/silver
    Denver - mostly dropping the orange
    New England - new logo and color scheme change from the patriot to elvis
    St Louis - yellow/blue to gold/blue

    Teams that didn't radically change colors, but made notable tweaks to create more appealing styling with some also updating the logo include:

    Seattle
    Arizona
    Minnesota
    San Diego
    Buffalo
    Jacksonville - dropped the jaguar on their unis
    Philadelphia - logo change
     
  10. IU Hawks fan

    IU Hawks fan They call me IU

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    Lions also did a minor update.
     
  11. 46zone

    46zone Guttersnipe

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    I'd say the Eagles made a pretty radical change. They dropped Kelly green, which had been their color for decades, for a much darker "midnight" green and dropped silver pants in favor for dark green pants on the road and white pants at home. They're the only team in the NFC East to ever go beyond minor tweaking to their logo/colors/jersey.
     
  12. IU Hawks fan

    IU Hawks fan They call me IU

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    Glad they did, current Eagles set is pretty badass.
     
  13. Evil Doctor

    Evil Doctor Cryin' Hank crying

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    I don't think the NHL teams go through changes anymore than any other league. Both MLB and NBA seem to go through just as many changes and tweeks. For example next season in baseball, Toronto is getting a complete new logo (though one that echos a very old one) and Florida is going through a complete rebranding.

    However hockey in general has a marketing aspect that other leagues does not have. They have their primary logo right on the front of the sweater/jersey, and thus needs a good graphical representation of that teams identity. Sometimes a team's identity becomes dated and requires an update, other times it was bad to begin with and needs a complete overhaul, and sometimes a look is identified with a certain ownership group and new ownership wants a fresh start.
     
  14. 46zone

    46zone Guttersnipe

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    I'd say the majority of the fanbase prefers the old kelly greens, very distinct color...a lot of teams where dark "greenish" uniforms. The kelly green set the Eagles apart, much like the Flyers with orange.
     
  15. Tinalera

    Tinalera Registered User

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    How have the Leafs messed it up? They've had essentially the same logo (the "Ballard" logo) since the 1970s (or are you saying that's HOW they messed it up, and need to try something completely different or go WAY back? I would understand that, and actually agree with it-I would think either a throw back to earlier times or a complete change would benefit them (I've often wished that the "3rd" Jersey's they've had (and current 67 era one) would become their perm jersey
     
  16. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    They've apparently mothballed the extremely popular veined leaf on white with the blue shoulders in favor of the 67 Centennial leaf. The former, if you took a Poll, would be the most popular of all time, followed by the solid blue, again with the veined leaf emblem without shoulder patches. Dispensing altogether with Ballards cheap number would be Heaven-Sent for the long suffering Leafs Nation. A 3rd Jersey, say the 67 or 77 versions would be fine, but as the primary sweater the current version is a just a mess of yesterdays. Frankly I find it disgraceful that the squad on the ice should even be allowed to wear the 67 version but there ya go, Brian Burke; and another Johnny Come Lately pipe dream...
     
  17. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    IMO, the biggest offender in terms of uniforms in MLB. Every other time I flip to a game, I have to check the TV schedule to tell who's playing.

    [​IMG]


    What the ****? Next channel.

    [​IMG]

    What league is this? Next channel.

    [​IMG]

    You know, maybe I'll go... stare out the window or something.
     
  18. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    :lol: ... ya, thats about the size of it alrighty.
     
  19. Mayor Bee

    Mayor Bee Registered User

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    You'd have to do that anyway, since the only normal uniform colors are white and gray.

    The San Diego camos are an annual thing; the city of San Diego is very important from a military standpoint, so those are a regular deal. The second one is Houston wearing a 1980s rainbow throwback. The third is a spring training deal; a lot of teams wear green on St. Patrick's Day, and some either sell them or auction them off.

    MLB is similar to the NHL in the sense of having this bizarre hang-up with "tradition" that seems to permeate all aspects of the fan base and decision-making. Where they diverge is that MLB has been completely hijacked by the traditionalists, whereas the NHL (thanks to a certain commissioner) has been dragged kicking and screaming into the Enlightenment that the NFL hit back in 1957. MLB has let the pace of the game erode into slop to the point where a nine-inning low-scoring game can take over four hours to complete; the NHL has used the AHL and IHL to test ways to speed up the game. And what modernization MLB has tried always seems forced, like it was concocted in a boardroom and never tested outside of that.
     
  20. GreenHornet

    GreenHornet Registered User

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    FWIW, my favorite Vancouver threads are circa 1994 Stanley Cup finals (the white and black with yellow and red trim, NOT the hideous yellow and black ones with the big V circa the 1982 finals).

    And I know I'm probably in the minority in that I've always hated the green and blue color scheme.
     
  21. Grudy0

    Grudy0 Registered User

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    This goes along with "branding" and an owner's desire to brand a team to his identity. Example #1, the Canucks:

    1970 - Entry to league with blue and green stick-in-rink logo, with Tom Scallen as owner.
    1974 - Sold from Scallen to Frank Griffiths, who in...
    1978 - went to the gold-black-red-orange whatever flying V uniforms and flying skate logo, which was tweaked for the next two decades
    1997 - Sold from Arthur Griffiths after overextending himself by building GM Place to John McCaw's Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, and changed to the Haida-style, red, blue and silver scheme.
    2006 - Sold from McCaw's Orca Bay to the Aquilini's, who promptly went back to the blue and green scheme, kept the Haida-style whale logo, and used the stick-in-rink as the alternate.

    Example #2: Tampa Bay Lightning
    Had the same logo with some changes to the uniform from inception until the Reebok Edge jerseys, then the logo was updated. Sold to Oren Koules and company, went downhill for a couple of years, sold to Vinik who installed Yzerman and Leiweke into the organization, and then finally had a wholesale change to their kit: the oval with the bolt, and a dominantly blue scheme.

    Example #3: Washington Capitals
    First year red and white (including those awful white pants), changed to blue the following year and not much of a change for two decades. Revamped whole kit (along with NBA's Bullets as a name change) in favor of a blue, bronze and black scheme. Leonsis bought Caps in 1999, but change back to red, white and blue scheme would wait for Edge redesign in 2007. With Leonsis purchasing original owner Pollin's stake in the Wizards, the Wizards once they take the court will be in red, white and blue as well.

    I'm fairly certain others can allude to any other changes. But now that I've given those, I'll give two more...

    Philadelphia Flyers: no real tweaks for forty-plus years. Same owner.
    Calgary Flames: no real tweaks for thirty-plus year, other than to add black to the color scheme. Same basic ownership group until recently (?) as I don't know the status of Hotchkiss' shares.
     
  22. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    That's why they wear hats with distinctive colors. I never, ever had a problem telling teams apart before the advent of "alternate" uniforms.

    To make this a little more region-specific, I grew up watching the Braves in the summer. Sometimes I'd turn on the TV and see this:

    [​IMG]

    "Ah, a home game."

    And sometimes I'd see this:

    [​IMG]

    "Looks like they're on the road this week."

    It was like that for, I dunno, 20 years or so. 20 years times 160 games. A Braves cap was a Braves cap, period. Very strong identity.

    Then one day I turned on the game.

    [​IMG]

    "What the **** is that?"

    The ugliest jersey in team history, that's what.

    A few years later...

    [​IMG]

    Home game or road game? Who knows? And, increasingly, who cares?

    Then, almost as if to prove a point that they could just do whatever they want regardless of taste...

    [​IMG]

    Somewhere around this time, I just stopped watching them altogether. I don't identify with them. And as trivial as it sounds, the fact that I turn on the TV and see uniforms I don't recognize has a lot to do with it.
     
  23. CommunistDayKare

    CommunistDayKare I'M SORRY RUM HAM

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    The most amazing example of this is the Chicago Bulls.

    Same logo since their inception in 1966, no tweaks, no secondary logo, nothing.
     
  24. Mayor Bee

    Mayor Bee Registered User

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    The last one is a spring training game. Teams usually have a BP jersey that gets heavy use during spring training.

    This is another example of MLB just rolling with things instead of actually determining the likely outcome of certain events. All leagues have some type of uniform standard; in the case of the NHL, it's dark at home and white on the road, unless the teams mutually agree to switch. There's also a process for that to actually be done, as with any uniform changes...to give an example, the Capitals 25th anniversary and the Red Wings 75th anniversary patches were taken off the jerseys almost immediately because the league hadn't approved them.

    MLB just basically goes with "road team decides what they alone wear". Since they're always going to wear gray, the home team can elect to wear white or an alternate, and I don't think they need the approval of the road team.

    Don't forget that MLB is the same league that took years before banning the practice of writing other players' numbers on hats (20 years after Jim McMahon's headbands), and also felt the need to prevent teams from wearing special hats on the 10th anniversary of September 11th. The incredible backwardness of MLB in so many ways is exactly why it's lost so much ground to the NFL, and the people who are trying to figure out why are the same people who are largely responsible for the mess in the first place. Why? "Tradition!" "This might offend or upset our fans!" "We are paralyzed by inaction unless a focus group tells us it's okay!"
     
  25. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    Gawd no. That'd cost Jerry Reinsdorf a packet in design fee's, plates, new business cards, letterhead...
     

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