Old or new, sports franchises generally choose to rebrand because of changes in ownership, but sometimes other factors come in to play: new ballparks or recognizing a general lack of brand energy and performance on the field and in the stands. Most every franchise in sports has rebranded at some point, and regardless of why, the idea of updating a franchise identity always comes down to a delicate and sensitive thinking process. Simply put, you want to generate new buzz without rocking the boat.
And that boat becomes even easier to rock when a relatively young franchise might be looking to rebrand for the first time, like, for instance, the Colorado Rockies.
Consider the Miami Marlins: Originally known as the Florida Marlins, the 1993 Major League Baseball expansion team recently went through one of the most extensive brand overhauls in MLB history. After endorsing their original mark for 19 years, winning two World Series and eventually sliding to the bottom of the table, finishing last in NL home game attendance from 2006 until 2011, it was no surprise that their art-mogul owner Jeffrey Loria decided to make a change.
But without years of brand heritage to fall back on, were Loria's choices of new team colors and a new logo too dramatic a change? Will that decision come back to haunt them? The Rockies, another '93 expansion team, have indeed made a few minor changes to their mark since '93, but have taken a more conservative approach thus far compared to the Marlins. Not to mention the Rockies won't be changing ballparks anytime soon; Coors Field is about as gorgeous as they come with its views of the purple mountain majesties.
We aren't ones to predict the future, but the old Marlins mark could eventually make a comeback, as was the spot-on approach the Toronto Blue Jays deployed this offseason in bringing back the 1977 logo -- the original brand DNA coming back to life while the in-between-years branding becomes just a blip on the radar. The Rockies have the opportunity to skip that phase and continue with their already-strong color scheme, which is loved by so many.
An updated brand has the ability to inspire improvement on the field, too. The Blake Street Bombers aren't exactly what they used to be -- i.e. winning the pennant in '07 or ending the season ranked #1 in AL home game attendance from 1993 until 1999 (numbers that indicate an MLB team was long overdue in Denver, but something the Rockies haven't done since). And while they earned an MLB 13th-best attendance record in 2012 (much of which is owed to the thriving shop and pub scene in LoDo, weather and breathtaking views in Denver; though, they saw better numbers in '11 and '10) what's truly startling was the 2012 dismal win column: 64 (the lowest in franchise history).
We're not saying ditch the pinstripes, but maybe it's time for the Rockies to consider a brand update. To pull that 1993-ness out of their brand and give it some 2013. Updated uniforms and logos do not guarantee your team to win the pennant, but it will signal to the players, coaches, and most importantly, the fans, that the front office is fully committed to keeping this franchise competitive in all facets of the game and business.
Consider the Rays: When Fanbrandz worked with Tampa Bay in 2008 to rebrand, they were coming off 10 straight years of 90 losses or more, and wanted to add some subtle sophistication to their identity.
The very first season our rebrand took effect they went on to win 90 games and took a trip to the World Series for the first time in franchise history and have been competitive ever since.
Baseball was meant to be played mile high. This year's 20th anniversary celebration is proof that baseball belongs in Denver, but the Rockies fan base is not what it used to be.
Before the franchise slips into the bottom half of league-wide ticket sales, with hopes of not repeating (or surpassing) their worst record in franchise history; they have a unique opportunity to bring back the winning ways of Larry Walker, with a fresh set of lenses to watch guys like Carlos Gonzales and 16-year man Todd Helton fill the grand stands for years to come.