Every now and then I like to gather a handful of related stories into a single blog post called Loose Threads. Today, the focus is on a handful of ECHL updates announced in recent weeks.
Industry giant enhances Allen Americans identity with new logos
When you think of high-end sports logo designers, one name that tends to rise to top is Joe Bosack. He and his team have been the creative force behind some truly unforgettable brands from the Colorado Avalanche to the Hershey Bears and dozens of colleges across the continent.
So when the Allen Americans wanted to refresh their identity, guess where they turned. On Sept. 9, the club revealed a suite of updated marks, cleaned up by Bosack.
This is the full set released by the team. There are some new wordmarks and a new “badge” featuring a four-star motif, commemorating the four consecutive championships the team won across two leagues—2013 and 2014 in the CHL as well as their first two seasons in the ECHL in 2015 and 2016.
The beveled “A” and striped shield survive from the original design with a few improvements. Here’s a quick comparison.
Given the similarities, you can’t help but wonder if the team got a little shortchanged. I mean, this is Joe Bosack. And all they got was a touch up? Not exactly. Here’s an appropriate excerpt from the press release.
Lead designer Joe Bosack shares that “this project was really about strengthening an already strong brand. By simplifying the primary logo we improved legibility in both small digital applications and embroidery while the new word marks add dimension and flexibility at retail. We’re thrilled to have been a part of this project and can’t wait to see all the great things the Americans do with their new and updated logos.”
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? The Americans have always had a solid primary logo since it was introduced in 2009 when they entered the now-defunct Central Hockey League. This effort just improves on it.
But that’s not the whole story. This brand evolution is more a preview of what’s coming a year from now.
Because the Americans did this logo redesign so late in the Athletic Knit jersey manufacturing calendar, the uniforms will remain unchanged for the next season—whenever it may begin.
That means this rebrand really takes effect in 2021, when the team will unveil new uniforms, “featuring an updated Americans shield and Americans eagle,” according to the release. Which means even more new work from Bosack & Co. is on the way.
Swamp Rabbits reveal ‘trendbreaking’ simplified sweaters
The day after the Americans’ announcement, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits presented new sweaters for the 2020-21 season.
What’s most striking is their starkness. And that’s by design. In fact, the Swamp Rabbits are calling it a “trendbreaking look.” Here’s an interesting pull from the press release:
“I wanted all three uniforms to have a classic sweater feel, a throwback vibe, paying homage to hockey's past, and a creating a renaissance of something new as well,” said Jay Whitt, the Director of Creative Design & Game Operations.
The “throwback vibe” does feel a little unorthodox for a franchise that was rebranded five years ago by sports design powerhouse Brandiose. That firm’s distinct style of anthropomorphic characters has become the modern visual language of small town minor league sports. And their artwork is anything but stark.
That’s why I find these jerseys so odd. If your mascot is going to be a hockey-playing hare, why not lean into it with the rest of your identity?
But, I get it. The raging rabbit is for the kids. The classy uniforms are for the parents. That works.
Furthermore, the new threads are actually on brand for Greenville. The team has always had very basic sweaters to contrast their more ornate logos. But even that is being toned down a notch with the introduction of a new crest for the home jersey.
It’s a monochromatic reimagining of the Swamp Rabbits identity. It has all the requisite symbolism—from the palmetto and crescent to the rabbit and his carrot—only more subdued.
As for the new orange third jersey, I found it interesting the team describes it as “reminiscent of a rugby kit” with its midnight blue shoulder yoke and white collar. It’s also the only new sweater featuring the team’s actual primary logo front and center.
In any event, it’s a nice-looking uniform set that’s well-suited to this franchise.
Mariners go green with third jersey
Meanwhile just yesterday, the Maine Mariners introduced their first-ever third jersey and it’s a beaut!
I’m just a big fan of this one. I love a good green sweater and the crest is that superb secondary logo. I’m thrilled to see it get a little time in the spotlight.
To some people, it’s an amorphous blob with a stripe and a ship’s wheel in the center. To Mainers, it’s home—the silhouette of their state.
Overall, it’s everything a great third jersey should be: an alternate color with an alternate logo. Can’t go wrong there.
Growlers owner aims to put new teams in Iowa City and Quebec
Last Friday, at the ribbon-cutting of the new Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, city leaders announced the building’s first tenant will be an ECHL franchise set to begin play in the 2021-22 season. They said the owner would be Dean McDonald of Deacon Sports & Entertainment, who owns the Newfoundland Growlers.
McDonald apparently has another deal in place to put yet a new ECHL team in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, also for 2021-22. He’s a busy guy.
However, the ECHL seems to think this announcement is a bit premature, saying: “In both cases, there has been no application for membership submitted to the ECHL’s board of governors, although plans are in the works for those applications.”
But none of this has stopped McDonald from a little early speculation on branding for an Iowa team. He told the Iowa City Press-Citizen: “We’ve joked that the whole arena is black and gold, so we know at least what the colors should be.”
A little like his other team, no?
I’ll be sure to keep an eye on any developments either way.