The Iowa Heartlanders revealed their name and visual identity today to fans at the new Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa. The club is one of two new expansion franchises that will join the ECHL this fall.
With an esoteric name like Heartlanders, the logo can be just about anything. The team settled on a white-tailed deer that, according to the team’s press release, is “poised for battle in expression, stance, and thorny detailing, to capture the essence of our strength, determination and work ethic here in Iowa.”
The secondary mark is a rendering of Iowa’s state flower, the wild prairie rose. The release points out that “the flower blooms every June, perfectly timed with the Kelly Cup [Playoffs].”
Both of these logos hail from the enormously talented Brian Gundell. The Heartlanders hired him and Win X Two Branding Agency to develop the identity for the franchise. Gundell is responsible for the Seattle Kraken secondary mark, which merges an anchor with the silhouette of the iconic Space Needle.
The rose logo will appear on the team’s jerseys, which are set to be released at a later date. The delay between a team’s logo and uniform announcements is common. They want to get the logo out before it leaks, but don’t necessarily want to show the jersey until it’s ready to go on sale.
All in all, I’m a big fan of this identity. Not only do I have a great appreciation for Brian Gundell’s work, but this is just great modern branding. It’s a name this team can truly own because it’s never been used before. It’s vague enough that the organization doesn’t have to commit to a brand immediately and can allow it to grow organically with the fanbase over the coming years.
And while the name is new, the color scheme is familiar to the market—with a black and gold combination employed by the nearby University of Iowa. The college is located in Iowa City and Coralville is one of its suburbs. Plus, the Heartlanders will share the new arena with the school, so the similar color palettes can be implemented across the building.
So what’s next? The ECHL’s other expansion franchise for 2021 is based in Trois-Rivières, Quebec—located about halfway between Montréal and Quebec City. I’ve heard a name and logo announcement may be only about a week or so away, so stay tuned for that.