A handful of new brand identities have been released around the minor leagues in recent weeks, so I wanted to take some time to run through them.
Coachella Valley Firebirds
The most recent on Nov. 5 was the unveiling of the name and logos for the Seattle Kraken’s new AHL affiliate in Palm Springs, now known as the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
Designed by Brian Gundell—also behind the Kraken’s anchor logo—the logos share a similar visual language with the Firebirds’ parent club in Seattle. And that’s no accident. Here’s a relevant paragraph from the press release:
Gundell stated, “We’ve taken the mythological spirit of the Firebird and the Kraken and applied it throughout the entire brand. Where the Kraken utilize a palette of ocean blues with a red accent of warning, the Firebirds have flipped the script. Using Deep Sea Blue to tie both brands together, the Firebirds build out a primary color palette in flaming red and orange, with an ice blue accent in the bird’s eye.”
So you have icy blues to form the “S” in Seattle and and fiery reds to form the bird in Coachella Valley. This is my absolute favorite style of brand synergy. Two franchises who share an owner but maintain distinct identities that still manage to interweave.
Beyond the Kraken/Firebirds, we also see it with the Flames/Heat, Kings/Reign, Golden Knights/Silver Knights, and even the Ducks/Gulls to a degree. What I hate to see is NHL brands diluted and shared into the minor leagues—the Senators, Bruins, Stars, Wild, and now the Canucks.
The best detail of the whole Kraken/Firebirds brand is the color reversal in the eye of the two mythological beasts. The red eye for the Kraken mirrors the ice blue eye of the Firebird. But that color mirroring got me wondering about the jerseys, which will be revealed at a later date.
Could they end up looking something like this?
I would not dislike that one bit. Players—goaltenders, in particular—could have gear that works across both teams, for those that are up and down from the minors. And yet the AHL club would still have its own distinct identity.
The Firebirds franchise is owned jointly by the Kraken ownership group, Seattle Hockey Partners, and Oak View Group, the company that built the new Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. The team will begin play in the 2022-23 season in the AHL’s ever-expanding Pacific Division.
Savannah Ghost Pirates
The ECHL will add another team in Georgia next season. The Savannah Ghost Pirates revealed their name, logo and colors back on Oct. 27.
These logos come by way of another titan of the sports design world, Dan Simon. His company, Studio Simon, is known mostly for minor league baseball identities, but he’s done his share of hockey as well, including the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.
First of all, Ghost Pirates is an amazing brand for a hockey team. The name really lends itself to imaginative themes and the logos do not disappoint. The focus, as the press release points out, is the fluorescent green and those glowing eyes. Eyes do seem to be the focus of a lot of new hockey brands lately. And this one works extremely well. The colors are unique and stand out a cluttered sports branding landscape.
The only disappointment is the fact that Dan’s two brands will never face off. The Admirals play in the AHL but I’d love to see that seafaring skeleton go up against this seafaring apparition. Who would win?!
I spoke with Dan last year when I launched the Icethetics YouTube channel and I hope to talk to him again soon about his work for the Ghost Pirates and Admirals. Stay tuned for that.
2022 AHL All-Star Classic
The last thing I wanted to mention was the 2022 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be hosted in Laval, Quebec. It slipped under my radar a bit but the event logo was released back in early October.
Its generous use of white space and that distinctive font should be familiar to Laval Rocket fans. The design is heavily inspired by the team’s own brand.
And because it’s happening Quebec, you may be more likely to see the French version around.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Laval was originally scheduled to host the AHL All-Stars in 2021. But the pandemic put the kibosh on that along with most of the AHL season. So this is something of a rescheduling.
If you’re curious about the 2021 All-Star logo, it was quite a departure from this.
And that’s about all I have for this afternoon around the minor leagues. What do you think?