Rebranding by Zoom: The Creative Process Behind the Switch from Indians to Guardians


Aside from expansion teams and clubs that moved from city to city, one Major League Baseball team had not undergone a major rebranding since 1965.

Houston’s transition from the Colts .45s to the Astros was a bit before the days of Twitter, where almost every newer uniform has far fewer fans than a quarterback on an NFL team. And meetings about the Astros’ impending change were not conducted via Zoom.

The latter has been the case with many discussions regarding the move from the Cleveland Indians to the Guardians, which was announced last month and will go into effect after the 2021 season.

“At the very least, this is probably the first big sports brand change that has been accomplished completely remotely,” said Dudley Versaci, chief strategist of Sports Car Brand Creative – the personalized agency employed by the club. baseball player from Cleveland to design the Guardians’ new look.

Versaci is a 34-year former director of business development at Doubleday & Cartwright, a Brooklyn, New York-based company that spearheaded a revamp of the Milwaukee Bucks and was the creative force behind the launch of Inter Miami CF in the Major League Soccer. . At Doubleday, Versaci worked with Kimou Meyer, a designer known as Grotesk who is now Senior Creative Director at Jumpman.

The Indians and Sports Car began discussing a possible rebranding last summer, after the baseball club first announced that it was exploring the possibility of changing the franchise name since 1915. In October, the parties had agreed to a consultation agreement, and in the first few months, the groups explored some preliminary ideas.

The Indians said 1,198 name options were on a list at one point – a figure according to Versaci is correct.

“You kind of start with a cost-benefit analysis from a creative strategic perspective,” Versaci said. “What are the potential forces here, what are the vulnerabilities in terms of media acceptance and market acceptance, and you look at it that way.”

The process of elimination, he added, also resulted in additions, as discovering the strengths and vulnerabilities of some options led to some names being put back on the drawing board.

When the Indians announced the name change, the team said they spent 140 hours interviewing fans, community leaders and members of the club’s front office about the change. The customs agency, according to Versaci, added 60 more hours of discussions with local “influencers” and other sports industry analysts.

Sports Car’s virtual meetings with Indians were held once every two weeks at the start. Finally, the discussions took place every week, then twice a week. The framework, which became too common during the pandemic, did not hinder the process, the customs agency’s chief strategist said.

“I think there is a common understanding that inspired creation takes place on the water cooler, and I actually think Zoom is a relatively functional way to do a project like this because you can pull together a lot. of people and share with them concepts or ideas that they’ve developed, “Versaci said.” And that tends to send other people in different directions or inspire work in other directions. “


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