TEAM BRAND IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT
“Whatever is normal,
try to do the exact opposite.”
That’s the mindset of baseball team owner Jesse Cole, which explains the name he decided to give his new collegiate summer league club: the Savannah Bananas. Replacing a professional minor league baseball team that left for greener pastures due to lack of support (they were perennially near the bottom of the league in attendance), he realized the first thing he needed to do was get people’s attention.
But there’s good attention and bad attention,
so how do you take a name that was, well…
unorthodox, and present it in a manner the fans will embrace? That’s where Studio Simon came in.
Recognizing that some might be on the fence regarding the unconventional moniker, the key was to not allow the pendulum to swing in the wrong direction by then giving it an outrageous visual representation. Instead, taking Cole’s stated desire for a “kick-a##” banana, the anthropomorphized edible was rendered using a carefully-considered blend of attitude and tenacity, without sacrificing approachability.
A custom baseball script was developed to balance out the otherwise atypical choice of the particular piece of produce that would be the centerpiece of the identity, with these typographic assets created in a style designed to compliment the character artwork. Two shades of yellow and a bright green, chosen to represent the ripening stages of bananas, work in concert with navy blue to make up the official color palette.
“You had the naysayers…
Then the logo comes out,
and you’re like ‘Oh this
is brilliant!’ ”
– Frank Sulkowski, Sports Director
WJCL 22, ABC Television Affiliate
When the Savannah Bananas identity was unveiled, the response was unprecedented for collegiate summer league baseball, where teams typically do not garner any attention outside of their immediate area. “Within thirty minutes we were trending, No. 1, on Twitter,” Cole recalls. "ESPN was reaching out. It went viral. And all of a sudden, we started pressing refresh on our email, and we were selling merchandise every couple of seconds, all over the world.”
Within two weeks, the Bananas had received merchandise orders from all 50 states, and had yet to even take the field. Opening Day was played to a packed house, and the club would go on to sell out 17 of their 22 home games in their inaugural season, setting the Coastal Plain League attendance record in the process. They would then proceed to top that the next year, when they started a string of selling out every home game for three straight seasons.
The Savannah Bananas have won their division three of the four years of their existence, and already have a league championship trophy in their display case, so maybe there’s something to our belief that, when a brand identity is done right and truly resonates with the fans and the players, it can also have a positive effect on what happens on-field.