CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Where do you go when you’re looking for the inspiration required to rebrand a minor league baseball franchise?
Apparently, Mac’s Speed Shop isn’t a bad place to start.
Thursday, the Charlotte Knights revealed four new logo designs at the Charlotte Convention Center Ballroom. And although the Knights name was retained, there’s no confusing the Charlotte product with the team that played in Fort Mill.
The familiar green and blue color scheme disappears, replaced by a combination of silver and gold with black and white highlights. And a gold letter “C,” draped around a silver helmet, is part of the primary logo, in honor of the city of Charlotte.
The rebranding for the Class AAA Knights – set to move from Fort Mill to a new stadium in Uptown Charlotte for 2014 – took inspiration from local hangouts such as Mac’s, the Levine Museum of the New South, and even Green’s Lunch’s hot dogs.
Knights general manager Scotty Brown said the team also gave a nod to Charlotte’s history in creating the new look.
“We feel the Knights name is strong,” Brown said hours before Thursday’s ceremony. “We’re defenders of the Queen City, and we’re returning to within the city limits, so what we wanted to do was freshen up that look while keeping the tradition of Knights baseball alive.”
For the redesign, Knights ownership enlisted Jason Klein and Casey White of the San Diego-based design firm, Brandiose.
“They have done everything from the Richmond Flying Squirrels to the rework of the Cincinnati Reds,” Brown said. “What we loved about those guys was that there’s always a story behind the designs they produce.”
Klein and White visited Charlotte, where members of the Knights’ front office, fans and community leaders showed them around the city.
“We became honorary citizens for the day,” Klein said. “We ate at Mac’s Speed Shop. We visited the New South Museum. We really immersed ourselves in everything Charlotte.
“For us, a brand is a story about the hometown. It’s about telling a story through the different logos. Generally speaking, Charlotte is a very progressive town in the sense that it’s always looking forward to the next thing. I think that ethos really shined through.”
Klein and White were also given a number that looked to that next thing to consider throughout the redesign: 31.
“Charlotte is a major league market, and it’s arguably a contender if a major league team were to come,” Klein said. “The marching orders were to treat this like major league baseball’s 31st team.”
With that in mind, Klein and his fellow designers returned to San Diego, producing more than 30 black and white concepts for the Knights to consider. Over time, they refined the concepts – and hit the occasional roadblock.
“The lettering took a little while to get exactly right,” Klein said. “It pays homage to the old Charlotte Hornets (baseball) jerseys from the 1950s but also is a modern take on medieval lettering.”
Concerns about a slight similarity to the University of Central Florida’s Knights logo, which shares the silver and gold color scheme, were raised internally, but those involved decided there weren’t any competitive issues.
Klein pointed out that no team in professional baseball – majors or minors – uses a silver and gold color scheme.
“We wanted to have an identity here in Charlotte that would be unique within minor league baseball,” Brown said. “So any color scheme matches are purely coincidental.”
Klein said the Knights are in the process of selecting uniforms and already have looked at more than 250 combinations.
“What we’re after is having that combination of the classic look and a look that when you’re walking down the street and someone sees one of our caps, they immediately say, ‘Charlotte Knights,’” Brown said. “We feel like we’ve achieved that.
“I guess time will tell if everyone is as enthusiastic as we are.”