The Norfolk Tides unveiled a new set of logos and uniforms Wednesday evening, establishing several Minor League firsts in the process.
The Tides -- Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles -- are the only Minor League team to employ a sea green, jade and orange color scheme. They are also the only team to include a seahorse as part of a primary logo.
Yes, a seahorse. The Tides believe that this unique creature -- the only species on Earth in which the male bears the offspring -- is pregnant with possibility when it comes to marketing and branding opportunities. The seahorse is featured in side profile in the new primary logo, bearing a trident resembling the letter "N."
"We realized, that within the overall climate of Minor League Baseball, that this is something that can help us succeed," said Tides general manager Joe Gregory, speaking in advance of Wednesday's unveiling. "This is not a name change. There's a lot of equity built in with the Tides, but we've never had a logo with a wordmark, which made it tough to do some things branding-wise."
He continued, "We looked at a lot of different sea life, and the seahorse was one that played well. It's unique, and I think you'll soon see more sea creatures as part of the Tides' galaxy of characters. The thing with [the name] 'Tides,' it's nothing that you can touch or feel. What we tried to do here is incorporate the seahorse to give the Tides something tangible."
The aquatic theme extends to the team's road cap, which features an N-shaped anchor bound in chains.
"The military and shipbuilding is the livelihood of this area, and when you're at [the Tides' home of] Harbor Park you're looking at a shipyard across the Elizabeth River," said Gregory. "We wanted to make that all part of the process."
Gregory noted that the sea green in the color scheme reflects the Tides' Chesapeake Bay surroundings, and that the orange serves as a nod to the team's current affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles have been the Tides' parent club since 2007, but prior to that Norfolk spent 38 seasons as a New York Mets affiliate.
"This is a good opportunity to get away from all of the blue, which is associated with the Mets," he said. "We still have fans here who think we're a Mets affiliate. By going to our own unique palette, it's our own identity. But, with the orange, we're still incorporating our relationship to the Orioles."
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The Tides' new look was designed by Brandiose, a San Diego-based company which has worked with dozens of Minor League clients over the last decade.
"[Brandiose] obviously has a great reputation, and when you look at teams they've worked with in recent years -- El Paso [Chihuahuas], Biloxi [Shuckers] -- they've done some fun stuff," said Gregory. "Our team president [Ken Young] is also the president of Biloxi, so there was familiarity there and that made the decision easier. Really, they were the only ones we planned to work with."
The logos were unveiled during the first intermission of Wednesday's Norfolk Admirals hockey game. The Admirals, who play in the ECHL, are owned and operated by the same group that owns the Tides.
"We'll have a built-in audience, a lot of our season ticket holders and sponsors are part of both teams," said Gregory, who also serves as general manager of the Admirals. "So, as opposed to hosting something on a weekday afternoon and hoping that people will take off from work, we'll have a few thousand people there. ... It's a great platform to be able to take advantage of."
Meanwhile, the Tides are preparing for their new-look 2016 campaign.
"We'll be continuously evolving," said Gregory. "We're looking toward the future, where there will be more and more involvement in the different aspects of sea life."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.