When it came time to choose a new moniker, the franchise formerly known as the Akron Aeros wanted to satisfy two main criteria. The name had to reflect both the working-class tenacity that Akron is known for as well as the team's commitment to fun and family entertainment.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Akron RubberDucks.
The RubberDucks name and logos were announced at Akron's Civic Theatre on Tuesday in front of an audience of business and community leaders and, of course, plenty of enthusiastic kids. The adoption of the new name ends the Double-A Cleveland affiliate's 17-season run as the Aeros, a name that was adopted upon the franchise's relocation to downtown Canal Park in 1997.
RubberDucks owner Ken Babby, now entering his second season at the helm of the franchise, said that the name change was the end result of a "constructive and formulaic process."
"Coming into Akron my goal was to listen more than talk, so this wasn't something that we rushed into," said Babby, who came to Akron after 13 years with the Washington Post. "We wanted to do something that was fun and entertaining while honoring the heritage of this great community."
Hence the "Rubber" portion of the team name, which references Akron's long-standing nickname as "The Rubber Capital of the World." In the early part of the 20th century, all four of America's major rubber companies were based in Akron, and the city is still home to Goodyear headquarters as well as Bridgestone-Firestone's technical center.
Akron's role as the founding city of rubber is well represented in the set of logos revealed Tuesday, from the treadmarks underlining the team name in the primary logo to the tire encircling the "A" on the road cap and the clenched rubber duck fists depicted in one of the alternate logos.
"The logo accomplishes a lot of things. Right off the bat, it represents the grit and fierceness of this blue-collar market," said Babby. "But it also represents the brand of entertainment that we're trying to create: a place where you can come in, have fun and forget life's problems."
The new logo and name are unveiled on a window at the team offices. (David Monseur/MiLB.com)
The logos were designed by Jason Klein and Casey White of Brandiose, marking the fourth time in the span of a week that one of the company's rebranding efforts has been unveiled (with the others being El Paso Chihuahuas, Arkansas Travelers and Charlotte Knights).
"We met Jason and Casey at the  Winter Meetings and did a lot of work early on in order to understand if the market was ready for it," Babby said. "They are incredibly creative and smart people who have been down this road before."
And those who have been down the Minor League rebranding road know that, at least initially, new team names are often met with mixed reactions from the local fan base.
"We're proud of the market, proud of the name and looking forward to watching the dialogue play out," Babby said. "We can't wait to have people come out on Opening Day to see what RubberDucks baseball is all about."