The Kachina is back. Full time.
On Monday morning, the Arizona Coyotes revealed their new white road uniform as they officially announced the long-awaited return to their original branding, which debuted in 1996.
The club abandoned the Kachina look in 2003 in favor of the red howling coyote. In 2014-15, the Phoenix Coyotes changed their name, becoming the Arizona Coyotes. Late in that season they brought back the Kachina design for the first time in more than a decade for one night only. It was so popular, they used it two more times the following season and two more times still in 2016-17 to mark their 20th anniversary.
Finally in 2018, the Kachina became the team’s regular third jersey. Now, the Coyotes face an uncertain future by doubling down on their past. Their time playing at Gila River Arena runs out at the end of the 2021-22 season and with no new home on the horizon, they hired a creative agency called MullenLowe to help rebrand and rebuild their place in the community.
The unveiling of the white Kachina jersey completes the slow return to that original identity full time with that familiar crest now once again the team’s primary logo.
In addition to that, the team revealed a new suite of wordmarks built out of new custom typography called Desert Sans.
An excerpt from the press release:
“Desert Sans” was created to match the Coyotes’ heritage look and feel. The typeface will be used to create large and confident messaging systems. “Desert Sans Condensed” works well in large sizes because of its readability. The font will be used mostly as a graphic element, because of its beautiful shapes and negative spaces. Both versions of the new wordmark can include either the full-body Kachina primary logo or the Kachina mask secondary logo.
To me, a custom typeface design is usually evidence that an organization is taking a rebrand seriously. Or maybe it’s just becoming more commonplace these days. After all, why use a generic font when you can have something bespoke?
By the way, we actually got a sneak peek at this new font last week without even realizing it. When the Coyotes announced their plans for Hispanic Heritage Month, they posted these graphics to Twitter. The English version features what I presume is Desert Sans while the Spanish version uses Desert Sans Condensed.
To be honest, I’m not sure I buy the line in the press release about it “working well because of its readability.” I actually find it a little difficult to read, but that’s just one opinion and I don’t want to spend all day on a type debate. So we’ll move on.
As a kid in the ’90s, I was a huge fan of this logo. It’s fun to see it resurrected all these years later. Though the howling coyote was around for almost 20 years, it always felt like a temporary placeholder to me. Like it wasn’t really this team’s identity but rather pushed on them by someone from outside their community. And in a way, it was.
Also of note is the fact that the Kachina coyote has been painted at center ice for the first time in the club’s history.
During their original Kachina era, the purple crescent moon was used instead.
By the way, the howling coyote isn’t gone quite yet. As has become common in the NHL, returning to an old uniform set, doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning the current one. We saw this last year with the Calgary Flames. The red Coyotes jersey will be worn as an alternate eight times during the season. But that will be the last of it. The Coyotes confirm it will be “phased out in 2022-23.”
And that’s the story for now.
By the time the season ends, we may have a whole new story for this franchise. For the sake of long-suffering Coyotes fans, I hope the team doesn’t end up leaving Arizona. Especially now that they have one of the most outstanding brands in the NHL.