Two new professional sports franchises will take the field in Ottawa, Canada, in 2014 and it was my team's job to name and brand them. This work included the development of a naming methodology, facilitating final selections; moderating focus groups with fans and local community; designing the logos; and developing brand stories and identity guidelines.
Collage of found images that represent some of Ottawa's cultural icons that would inspire this work.
While the naming of the NASL team, Ottawa Fury FC, was relatively straight forward given prior brand equity from their USL and PDL teams, the CFL team naming was not. A public campaign was run in December 2012 which generated thousands of potential names for both teams. Names were also generated by the ownership group and my agency team. Due to the large number of submissions and the high stakes game of naming a professional sports franchise that represents a city and national league, it was important to have a thoughtful and rigorous process that would guide final selection. I led numerous sessions with the public, ownership group and the league executives, that filtered potential names based on their authenticity to Ottawa and the game, their uniqueness, marketability, and bilingual potential.
Leading a client worksession to arrive at a name, and a worksheet from one of the naming focus groups.
The RedBlacks name was chosen for the CFL team, and was inspired by more than 100 years of Ottawa sports teams and their persistent colors, but it will come to represent much more. RedBlacks is uniquely memorable and will help the team gain brand distinction fairly quickly. Befitting a football team, Red connotes "courage" and Black suggests "strength". By removing the white space between Red and Black, it becomes less literal, more ownable, and will come to mean more than just color. We now have one word that can symbolize the coming together of Ottawa's past and future. I look forward to hearing the opposing stands at Landsdowne Park chanting, "RED... BLACKS!" Sorry, "ROUGE... NOIR!"
The above video is from a CBC news broadcast regarding the naming of the team, which I contributed a brief interview (which starts about 1:25 into video).
When designing a logo, often the simplest, most direct route will be the most successful. In the case of the Fury FC's mark, we looked for ways to visualize the concept of "fury" or "furious", and do so in a way that was meaningful to the city of Ottawa. There was a lot of exploration around flames and fire, and the flowing, very dynamic and powerful nature of a river. Ottawa's ceremonial flame on Parliament Hill proved to be a good reference for us, which you can see with several of the final options. Also needing to be considered is that soccer (ie. football) is a world game, with a tradition and design language all its own. John Pugh and I felt it was important to design a mark that celebrated that tradition and had credibility on the world stage.
The RedBlacks was more challenging, as there isn't anything visually intrinsic to the name, apart from color. Early on in the naming process, a raftsman was identified as being an important figure in Ottawa's lumber industry, known for floating large timber barges down the river. I wanted to look for ways to bring the raftsman to life in the RedBlacks identity and extend it into merchandising and the fan experience over time. We drew inspiration from tools and icons associated with the timber industry, be it a saw blade, the indigenous white pine tree, timber stamps, and the peavy. Also explored were more traditional images relevant to the nations capital city, be it military history, Ottawa's official crest, maple leaf or intersecting rivers.