For this installment of the Hockey Team Identity Project that Captain Hammer (with a great history lesson on the Wheeling Nailers) and I are undertaking, I went to a particularly interesting case in terms of marketing and branding. For the Reading Royals, they prove that building the brand is something that is much more efficient than aligning with the parent team.
To start it off, the Royals are the reincarnation of the Columbus Chill, who voluntarily suspended operations to make way for the Columbus Blue Jackets. In the 2001-02 season, Reading was the spot for them, with the Royals name coming down from a Name-the-Team contest; but it was a solid choice. The name went in line with the affiliations they had, the Los Angeles Kings and Manchester Monarchs-- why not have the Royals as the three jewel in the crown, so to speak. The Royals went into the color scheme of having black, purple, and silver, again going along with the affiliation scheme.
The affiliation between the two went very well, but in 2008; the Kings went to the Ontario (Calif.) Reign as their top ECHL affiliate, but used Reading as a secondary affiliate. The Toronto Maple Leafs came in to become the primary affiliate for the Royals. In 2009-10, the Boston Bruins came in to be the secondary affiliate to the the Royals.
With two teams that don't have the same color scheme of as what you have now, what's a team to do?? The Royals decided to keep the name, logo, and colors they had always had, which was different from the teams they were affiliated with. Why, you may ask?? For that answer, I went to the Royals General Manager, Gordon Kaye for some insight.
"If you were to change the colors or name, you'd be throwing away seven years of brand away along with it," said Kaye. "People in Reading know the black, purple, and silver and equate it to the Royals. There's no reason to to force yourself into rebuilding what is already a good, vibrant brand when people in the area are already familiar with it."
That's not to say they didn't think about changing things around.
"We spent a lot time thinking about maybe going in a different direction, but in the end; we didn't want to lose the brand equity we had built up already. People know the name, know the logo, know the colors-- we aren't going to throw that away," explained Kaye.
This piece gave an inside look at how things go down and the process that happens should a parent affiliation decide to leave the minor league club. While you may think that some teams change just for the sake of change; it's good to know that the fans and the brand that has been instilled in the community were taken into consideration. The old adage hold true in this instance-- you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Thanks to Royals GM Gordon Kaye for taking time out and provide information about the Royals history and the process that went along with it. Go to RoyalsHockey.com for more info about the Royals.