Whats in a name?

Branding | News

January 16th, 2014

hornets_feature

This year NBA franchise Charlotte announced they would be re-branding the organisation for the upcoming 2014-15 season following hot on the heels of this seasons re-branding of New Orleans.  To fully understand why these re-brandings have taken place we must look at each teams history.

Charotte first entered the NBA in 1988 as the Hornets and were an iconic brand throughout the mid to late 90’s which such NBA stars as Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson and Muggsy Bogues helping establish the successful brand. However in 2002 the team was bought out and relocated to New Orleans where the owner decided to keep the ‘Hornets’ name. Charlotte’s exodus from the NBA was very short lived, only 2 seasons had passed before an expansion team would be formed but as the Hornets name was occupied the team would be known as the Charlotte Bobcats.

As the seasons passed on both New Orleans and Charlotte would have minimal success both on and off the court and appears to have disconnected fan bases that could neither fully support New Orleans as it felt like a foreign team not connected to the city of Louisiana, nor Charlotte as this was not the Hornets but an expansion team with no history or affiliation with the city.

Last year New Orleans took the plunge and after extensive research and polls to members and fans, decided to drop the Hornets and instead go with the New Orleans Pelicans. Say what you will about the Pelicans being far from a fierce mascot but what the Pelican brought was an instant connection to the city. “The nickname Hornets didn’t mean anything to this community,” The New Orleans CEO said when he announced the planned name change. “The pelican represents New Orleans, They have incredible resolve. If they can do that, the team can do the same.”

New Orleans Pelicans logo

New Orleans Pelicans logo

The brown pelican is Louisiana’s state bird and has become identified with efforts to restore Louisiana’s coast, which has been damaged extensively by the 2010 BP oil spill and erosion from Katrina and other storms. Images of the pelicans covered with oil were plentiful after the oil spill. The brown pelican was taken off the endangered species list in 2009.

This paved the way for Charlotte to new revert back to the iconic Hornets name it had established and announced shortly after the Pelicans that it would also be re-branding.

Charlotte Hornets logo for 2014-15 season

Charlotte Hornets logo for 2014-15 season

“The logos are the foundation of an organization’s brand identity, and our goal was to design logos that would have awareness, be relevant and resonate with fans,” Charlotte president Fred Whitfield said. “We developed a logo that physically depicted the characteristics and DNA of the type of team we want on the court, as well as those of hornets and the city of Charlotte.”

The bobcats (current) also announced that the original Hornets’ popular mascot, “Hugo the Hornet,” will also return next season.

The Hornets nickname in Charlotte dates back to the Revolutionary War, when British General Charles Cornwallis compared the resistance in Charlotte to a hornet’s nest. It has been used in sports by a minor league baseball team (1901-73), an upstart football league team (1974-75) and the city’s first NBA franchise.

The Bobcats offered this background on the new primary logo.

The primary logo utilizes the purple and teal color palette and features an aggressive-looking hornet that is ready to attack. Its piercing eyes, raised antennae, expanded wings and pointed stinger depict its relentless intensity. Incorporated within the logo is a basketball that doubles as the hornet’s body. The Charlotte Hornets wordmark is written across the insect. The logo contains several odes to that of the original Hornets with its white wings, white accents within its eyes, a stinger and the inclusion of a basketball.

In addition to the primary logo, the Bobcats announced a secondary logo and a logo for Hugo the mascot and whilst the modern logo is certainly a big change from the 90’s version, the Mascot has kept the history of the past in an updated design which can be closely related to the original one as well as the New Orleans Hornet.

Secondary logo

Secondary logo

The secondary logo features a side view of the hornet in an attacking position with elongated wings, aggressive eyes and extended stinger. The body once again consists of a basketball, while the curled body shape represents the letter “C” for the city of Charlotte.

Hugo the Hornet returns as team mascot!

Hugo the Hornet returns as team mascot!

Below are the previous Hornets logos used by the original Charlotte Hornets and, after their relocation, the New Orleans Hornets.

previous Hornets logos

previous Hornets logos

Along with the new Name and Logo, would inevitably come the colour scheme which will again throw back to the original colours of Puruple & Teal.

The decision to return to the Hornets’ original moniker and color scheme came about following an extensive public opinion survey. A team press release confirmed that the survey results were in line with conventional wisdom: that the Hornets’ colors, which were among the most popular and recognizable across the country during the early-1990s, still had staying power. The Charlotte Observer reported recently that the Bobcats have seen a rise in season-ticket sales in anticipation of the return of the Hornets.

The transition from Bobcats to Hornets will also include new uniforms, a new dance team and a new court surface. The new uniforms are expected to be unveiled next summer.

To promote the new color scheme, the Bobcats — who have already been referring to Charlotte as “Buzz City” — launched a “Painting the City” marketing campaign, which includes images of a basketball being doused in purple and teal paint.

Marketing material to go with the new name change!

Marketing material to go with the new name change!

Both New Orleans and Charlotte seem to be responding positively both on and off the court this season on the back of the re-brandings and their respective supporter bases now feel more connected to their teams! Another big win for smart and effective re-branding!