Friday, June 20, 2014
Uniformity 101: How to turn a pro sports franchise around
So the Charlotte Hornets unveiled their rebranded identity on Thursday, going back to the purple and teal that made such a splash when the franchise originally began doing business in 1989.
And you know what that means.
Run, don't walk, and bet the house on the Hornets winning the NBA title in the next three years (that's "for entertainment purposes," of course).
New uniforms and logos stir up fan bases and, of course, generate millions of bucks in revenue in new merchandise. But new, spiffy unis have an uncanny way of translating to success in the standings, too.
In the NHL, the Dallas Stars won a Stanley Cup in 1999, two years after rebranding. The L.A.Kings became a player after ditching their purple and gold for silver and black in 1988, although the arrival of a guy named Gretzky had something to do with that too.
And in the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets made some noise in the playoffs in their new digs and new black and white duds.
But nowhere is the trend more consistent than in the NFL:
* The Atlanta Falcons went to the NFC championship in 2004, one year after updating their helmet logo and number fonts.
* The Arizona Cardinals went to the Super Bowl in 2008, three years after a similar treatment.
* The Cincinnati Bengals went to the Super Bowl in 1981, the first year with their "Bengal Stripe" helmets and jerseys.
* The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl in 1997 after a complete revamp, ditching the "Orange Crush" jerseys for a more menacing navy blue and streamlined logo.
* The New England Patriots, after the second incarnation of "Flying Elvis" in 2000, won Super Bowls three times in a four-year span (there are plenty of folks up there who wish the beloved "Pat Patriot" would return, even though the Pats generally had horrible teams in that look).
* The New York Giants switched back to their iconic "ny" logo in 2000, and went to the Super Bowl (where they got throttled by the Ravens 34-7. You can tell I've gotten over that, but the two SB wins over the Patriots made up for it).
* The New York Jets, in 1998, switched back to a look modeled after the Namath era and promptly went to the AFC championship game.
* And the latest example: The Seattle Seahawks, the year after their futuristic rebrand, won the Super Bowl last season.
There's more on tap soon. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will wear new uniforms this season with an updated (and much larger) helmet logo, and the Cleveland Browns are planning a rebrand for 2015.
So get those bets down on the Bucs and Browns, too. Don't say I didn't tell you so.
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