Fans of the Ottawa Senators got a sign of the kind of branding changes that might be on the horizon for the team this week.
Social media was abuzz when it was discovered the team had revamped its website Thursday, providing much more prominence to the heritage-style “O” logo at the expense of the familiar centurion.
The team also unveiled a variation of the heritage logo for its American Hockey League affiliate, the Belleville Senators.
The Ottawa Senators did not comment on the changes, but this kind of move is likely just the beginning, according to Mikey Richardson, a branding expert with Toronto’s Jacknife agency.
“It sounds like there have been mistakes made where someone’s made assumptions around what they think is cool or what they think looks great on a sweater but missed the mark in terms of what really matters with sports fans, that something is authentic and it’s tied to the core roots of the team,” said Richardson, who is a big fan of the team’s third jersey — the one with the O.
“In sports, visual branding is super, super important. And it can really help you or it can really hurt you if you don’t do it right.”
Listening to fans
But Richardson is optimistic that the team will figure it out. Richardson worked closely with Senators team president Tom Anselmi — then with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment — on the launch of Toronto FC of Major League Soccer.
“A guy like Tom, he doesn’t have a magic formula. Like ‘This is what I did in Vancouver or this is what I did in Toronto and we’re going to do the same thing here.’ The formula is keep your mouth shut and listen to what people have to say, and then try to identify and frame the problem and then you can set about fixing it.”
Much was made of fan frustration and falling attendance this past season, but the team’s deep run into the Stanley Cup playoffs seems to have bought the team some time, and good will.
“I know it’s probably frustrating for people in the market to go, ‘Well, there’s new leadership and what’s going to happen? What’s going to change?’ But knowing Tom, he’s got his ears open,…