A strong logo is instant identity for a baseball team. It should be appropriate for a variety of uses, and it should portray the team’s marketing image in a positive, forceful way. And it should also transcend the local market — the better for merchandise sales and branding. Today we honor two new logos that debuted for the 2009 season: the distinctive apple mark from the Fort Wayne Tincaps and the swashbuckler from the Shreveport-Bossier Captains.
A strong logo is instant identity for a baseball team. It should be appropriate for a variety of uses, and it should portray the team’s marketing image in a positive, forceful way. And it should also transcend the local market — the better for merchandise sales and branding. Today we honor two new logos that debuted for the 2009 season: the distinctive apple mark from the Fort Wayne Tincaps (Low Class A; Midwest League) and the swashbuckler from the Shreveport-Bossier Captains (independent; American Association).
This has been a stunningly great season for the folks running the Tincaps, and we’ll warn you this isn’t the first award the group will win from Ballpark Digest. But it’s appropriate we begin with talk about the team’s logo, unveiled when the team’s new name was announced after the 2008 Fort Wayne Wizards season. It didn’t look like anything else in baseball, which is usually a good thing; logos like the tin-capped apple tend to broaden the appeal of the brand. And we saw the appeal of the brand during a June 2009 visit to Yellowstone National Park, where we saw not one, not two, but three different tourists wearing TinCaps apparel at different places in the park. That told us the logo was working.
To be sure, it wasn’t an easy logo to create: we’re guessing Atlanta’s Sky Design had quite the challenge in building a strong logo around an apple wearing a tin cap. The end result works without being cloying or cutesy, and it was a great base for the team’s promotional efforts in 2009 and, we’re suspecting, beyond.
The Captains faced the same sort of situation the TinCaps did: remaking the face of the franchise. The stakes, arguably, were high for both teams: the TinCaps ownership had committed a lot of money to a new ballpark and associated development, but the Shreveport ownership also faced a big challenge: reengaging the area populace. The final days of affiliated baseball and the early days of independent baseball at Fair Grounds Field didn’t exactly set the world on fire, and there were persistent questions as to whether Shreveport would support professional baseball.
To his credit, owners Scott Berry and Gary Elliston decided to commit to a revamp of the team, bringing in Craig Brasfield to manage things. The biggest change was to change the team’s name to the Shreveport-Bossier Captains, bringing a neighboring city to the mix and reverting to a popular moniker from the past. There’s always a challenge in bringing back old team names: the older crowd might appreciate it, but a younger crowd may not care. Bringing back a name from the past didn’t work when independent baseball came to town — the Shreveport Sports may have been popular in its day, but today’s fan didn’t care — so there was some risk in bringing back the Captains name.
The gamble worked, largely thanks to a logo design from Alan Beam at Beam Team Design. The new Captain takes advantage of the popularity of pirates in the American zeitgeist, portraying him as Captain Jack, the pirate rogue. The design also was incorporated into new team colors and uniforms, giving a fresh look to the team. The overhaul of the image worked, as team attendance was up some 26 percent over 2008.
This past season saw many great new logos. Honorable mentions go out to the following teams:
- It would have been easy for the Bowing Green Hot Rods to go with a cartoonish logo given the team name. But the resulting team logo was relatively understated; yes, you had some bright colors, but the end logo design was classy.
- You can’t miss the huge bison in the middle of the new Buffalo Bisons (Class AAA; International League), and you can’t miss the team’s new affiliation with the New York Mets. The new logo and design scheme are a great improvement over the old sliding bison.
- Scrappy, the mascot for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (short season; NY-Penn League) received a facelift, the first in team history.
Ballpark Digest Awards are chosen by the editors of the website following nominations from teams and fans alike. Last year’s winner of New Logo of the Year was the Quad Cities River Bandits.
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