It’s getting pretty hard to start on a brand when they don’t have a name. January’s brand is a hockey team, and they don’t exist, they don’t know where they’re from, and they don’t even have a specific league they’re playing in. As mentioned before I’m trying to juggle January’s brand with last month’s brand because of the backup from the holidays, and now—now I’m scheduled for a vacation to Puerto Rico next week. I mean, I’m not complaining about going to PR, things are getting really backed up though, so I’ve got to land on a name for this hockey team and get sketching!
So far I have a handful of ideas, some better than others. The real question isn’t what the team mascot is, or where they’re from, it’s a little more about what kind of club they are. But truly, I’ve got to face it: I’ve always wanted to name a sports team and build a logo for them. I’m the jerk who knows nothing about college basketball and fills out my March Madness bracket ranking the teams by how well their logos are designed or how awesome their mascots are. You’d be surprised how well I do.
I’ve been looking at hockey team logos from the NHL to the minors, and I have to say there are precious few that grab my attention (surprise). I’ll pull out some that do ring my bell in another post, but for the most part it’s important right now to consider what actually makes a good mascot. I’ll attempt to break it down:
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1/ Ferocity: competitive sports are by their nature a simulation of real world tussles and struggles, and the easiest way for us to represent our teams is by likening them to beasts, gangs or armies of dangerous humans, or in rare instances, forces of nature (also another post to come). This is the category that most teams of competitive sports go with, and it’s a good one. But it can get a little trite. I don’t think we can count how many wolves or bears or bulls or bulldogs are out there. Ferocious animals can get overused, and lose their individuality, which is too bad because individuality is what we’re after when naming a hometown team. It’s worth noting that the NHL actually has a decent list of mascots that don’t lean on hackneyed wild animals. And when their mascots are dangerous animals they go the extra mile to give them a bit more character. e.g. They’re not bears, they’re Bruins. They’re not sabre-toothed cats, they’re Predators. Of course, you’ve also got the Panthers and the Coyotes, and the ever confusing Buffalo Sabres (which use Buffalos and Sabres), but every league has their team name downers and black sheep.
2/ Pride: If a team wants to go a bit more pacifistic in their team’s representation, they’ll often go with the thing that makes their hometown unique and that which they’re proud of. They might sacrifice a little bit of implied savagery with this route, but they might also put a few more people in the seats if they’re particularly proud of their home. Some notable ones that ring for me in the NHL are the St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals, and both the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks. Though I’ve listed this category second, I feel like pride should be the number one element to a mascot, both for spirit and for making sure the people of the area care about the team. Or should I say, that the team really cares for their patrons.
3/ Uniqueness: Often the pride and ferocity sections above overlap well with a team’s individuality (take the UC Santa-Cruz Banana Slugs, or the USC Gamecocks, respectively) but it’s important to remember that the name could be a little too obscure for more wide reaching towns or areas, or just plainly too obscure for any fan to feel confident about their strange symbol. What’s a Pacer? A Packer? A Clipper? A Charger? Or a 76er? Well, they’re all things of course, but they mean something special to the hometown (or previously owned hometown)—not to the random out-of-towner who might be interested in following a new team… A small risk of alienation perhaps, but that mystery can of course also work in the team’s favor; curiosity for the team can brew interest and loyalty. Either way, if you name your team the Bears you should be ashamed of yourself (at least in this day and age). If you name your team the Storm-petrels, the Terrapins, or the Billikens, you should likewise feel ineffectual.
So my task is going to be pretty tough, mostly because knowing a lot about an area, town, college, etc would directly effect the choice for its team name. I feel like I could do the Salem Witches or the Las Vegas Aces, but that’s a little dry. I might be better off giving the team a general geographic location (if even that is needed), quirk, or history and fabricating the rest. I could also continue researching, but at this point a decision needs to get made so I can start doing what I showed up to do: designing a brand, not starting a hockey team.
SO—If you’re out there, let me know what you think of the following ideas, some based on real US locations, others are abstract as of yet. I suppose I could do a poll for the 4 people that read this (and the 25 spammers). So I guess vote, but if you’ve got feedback on the list, or even suggestions of your own, pipe in.
Lesser down the list for me:
The Wooly Mammoths (did you hear there’s someone out there who wants to clone an extinct Wooly Mammoth??)
The Oregon Osprey