At this point last year, Ducks fans were eagerly anticipating the 2010-2011 season for a number of reasons. From anxiety over Bobby Ryan's RFA status to questions about Cam Fowler's ability to play at the NHL level, hockey operations questions abounded. But one other key issue also had the attention of the Anaheim faithful - a new third jersey.
As the weeks marched on, details slowly emerged. We knew that the Ducks wordmark (the spelled out "DUCKS" logo on the front of the jersey) was going to be replaced by the web-footed D. We heard whispers that there would be a nod toward the team's origins as the Mighty Ducks. When November 26th finally rolled around, reactions were mixed, but generally positive. The third jerseys prominently featured the "D" as advertised and integrated shoulder patches with the old Mighty Ducks logo updated to the new color palette. The jerseys also featured dramatic orange striping that, when paired with orange socks, added a little bit of personality to the third jersey that distinguished the Ducks from other black jerseys in the league.
As a self-proclaimed merchandise junkie, I was thrilled with the change. It represented a logical step for the Ducks in their brand evolution and the team obliged my merch desires by introducing more and more items that featured the webbed D instead of the Anaheim Ducks wordmark. Now that we're two-thirds of a season removed from the implementation of the third jersey, I think it's time for the Ducks to take the next step and fully embrace the concepts introduced with the third jersey moving forward.
When the Samuellis changed the name to the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-2007 to reflect their ownership, reactions were mixed. Many in hockey appreciated the edgier and distinctly less-Disney logo and colors, but many Ducks fans felt the style and name lacked much personality. After all, the team's primary logo shifted overnight from an easily recognizable (and mockable) icon to a wordmark. As the price to be paid for escaping the Disney influence, most accepted the color scheme and design and hoped that the style would evolve in due time.
Five years removed since the launch of the Ducks brand, it's time to take that next step. The Ducks are one of only four teams league-wide to employ a jersey with a wordmark as the primary logo (the Rangers, Stars, and Capitals send their regards). With the design and style introduced by the third jersey, is this necessary any longer?
While the design of the thirds may be a little busy, they do offer the Ducks some much needed visual differentiation and branding. I like the integration of the orange throughout the uniform because it livens up the plain black jersey and adds some identity. Not only that, but I see some real opportunities to leverage this design moving forward.
Here's my proposal: the Ducks should use the current third jersey as the new home jersey and introduce a white variant to be used on the road. At the same time, the Ducks should feature the updated Mighty Ducks logo with the current palate as an increasingly important mark for the team (this should become their secondary logo). At this point, it's pretty easy to envision a new third jersey that uses this mark as a true evolution of the brand while retaining a link to the past. Of course, maybe I'm jumping the gun on all of this and the Ducks' marketing people are planning this for the 2014-2015 season as part of a twentieth anniversary celebration. At any rate, I think it's a good idea.
The Ducks have evolved away from the team that won the Cup in the 2006-2007 and it only seems reasonable to reflect that in their logos. The current third jersey design offers a giant step forward for the logo and look of the team. It's a unique look that allows the Ducks to establish a more complete brand moving forward and it provides new opportunities to market and further brand the team. It's time for the Ducks to begin building a more engaging and relevant brand that no longer relies a plain wordmark.