Release the Kraken!
Take a deep dive with us into the Seattle Kraken branding
The NHL's newest team announced its name as the Seattle Kraken through a video on their social accounts last week. If you haven't yet see it, you can check out the video below:
In many cases, an expansion team in any sport will tease out the launch and release of the new franchise’s name, logo and jersey. With the Seattle Kraken we’ve been spoilt as the team revealed all elements at the same time.
Choosing the name Kraken
Seattle considered the calling the team Metropolitans, the name of the city's original pro hockey team, which won a Stanley Cup in 1917, becoming the first US team to do so.
It is understood that there was some pushback from the NHL offices on this name alone. The NHL already has the Metropolitan Division, and commissioner Gary Bettman didn't want to change the division name as a result of the new franchise name.
Team leaders monitored the reactions and sentiments on social media when a new name was suggested. They wanted to ensure that the fans had a say in the naming. In May 2019 the team enabled people to submit naming suggestions through an interactive online portal. Other media outlets such as the Seattle Times ran reader polls to name the team, the results of which were monitored by team leaders. The Seattle Times' poll resulted in Sockeyes and Totems as finalists, whilst Kraken had a strong showing.
By Christmas of 2019 the leadership group was all but settled on the name Kraken. It is uncertain who first championed Kraken within the group, by this stage there was growing support for the name in the fan base, and it’s interesting to note that film producer Jerry Bruckheimer, part-owner of the team, has used the mythical sea creature in his Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
The name Kraken is very unique and an unusual name in sports, because almost all sport franchises end with an 'S’. A fact other sports franchises in that unique group were quick to point out and welcome their newest member.
.@NHLSeattle_ another pro team whose name doesn't end with S 😎 welcome to an exclusive club, Kraken!— x - Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) July 23, 2020
Why choose the name Kraken?
There are a lot connections to Seattle; in part because of Seattle’s maritime history, in part due to their geographic location with large amounts of water around the city.
Lastly, there is folklore in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest of this mystical Kraken creature that lives just below the surface of the sea.
Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy, another part-owner of the team said “That mystique, that intensity and that power that people have long talked about with the Kraken is what we expect our NHL team to play with."
Seattle Kraken Colours
Adidas' design director for hockey Matty Merrill said " Colour is the first way fans are going to interact with this brand. Whether you see it from a distance or up close, it is the simplest way to communicate. It had to make sense for Seattle and it had to make sense for hockey and be professional. But it also needed to be fresh and different."
When developing the brand colour palette, the branding team including the Adidas design team listened to the wishes of the local fans. "Just like the name, the colours are informed by the fans," says Heidi Dettmer, vice president for the Kraken.
The fans wanted blue or green to reflect the city's unique landscape -- the water, the trees, the mountains, the precipitation. When the name Kraken was eventually decided upon, it made sense for blue to be the predominant colour.
To refine the colour palette, the design team travelled around the Seattle area and the Pacific Northwest looking for inspiration for the team identity. "We wanted a colour scheme Seattleites recognize as theirs," says Nic Corbett, director of NHL relations for Adidas, official jersey designer for the league. They took their cues from the natural beauty of the area. They saw the blue skies, rocky greys from the Olympic mountain range and the range of blues offered up by Puget Sound.
The final design didn’t contain just one or two tones of blue, but four! By combining the four different tones of blue in the final design created a unique and original look. There is also no white in the home jersey which is an original take for sports jerseys.
Of the NHL's 31 existing teams, 16 have some shade of blue in their logo, so Seattle's needed to be unique.
Designers Nic Corbett and Matty Merrill from adidas discuss the design of the Seattle Kraken colour scheme
Seattle Kraken Logo
For the logo, as with the name there were dozens and dozens of logo possibilities.
The Seattle Metropolitans were the first American club to hoist the Stanley Cup. The "S" as the primary mark is an homage to the original Seattle Metropolitans uniforms.
Merrill from Adidas described how the calligraphic ‘S’ provided a very regal starting point. The team then began to refine the logo and noticed how the bevelled effect of the letter ‘S’ resembled that of a carved name in the quarter board of a ship which provided a perfect tie in to the maritime theme and history.
The logo required one last element: mystery. To represent the beast, the Kraken itself.
In a recent episode of 31 Thoughts: The Podcast, discussing the Kraken unveiling, Jeff Marek compared the Kraken unveiling to one of his favourite movies, Jaws. “The secret of that movie is they don’t show the shark until much later on”. In the case of the Seattle logo they don’t show the Kraken. This allows the mind conjure up it’s own form.
Team president Tod Leiweke said
"There's nothing more frightening than the theater and the mystery of the mind."
By simply inserting the rising Kraken tentacle into the negative space of the letter ‘S’, and the red eye of the beast adds that mysterious touch.
The secondary Seattle Kraken logo cleverly incorporates the iconic Seattle Space Needle into the anchor. The full wordmark continues the maritime connection with the usage of the clean bevel of a freshly carved vessel.
Designers Nic Corbett and Matty Merrill from adidas discuss the Seattle Kraken logo
Seattle Kraken Jersey
In the same 31 Thoughts podcast episode referenced above, Elliotte Friedman spoke of the boldness of the Seattle Branding team. When designing the jersey in conjunction with Adidas, one of their main questions was, Will this jersey look good lifting the Stanley Cup?
With this in mind the team wanted a classic hockey striping. There wasn’t going to be any bubbles, or tentacles wrapping around the arms. Yet working with stripes still provided plenty of scope to create a unique identity.
Matty Merrill, Adidas NHL designer likened the hockey striping to a barcode. Each fan of their team can easily identify their team’s stripes from a distance, or on an item of clothing. Think about your favourite team, if you saw their stripes would you instantly recognise where they were from?
From the top down on the jersey sleeve striping, the colours represent the ice on the mountains, down through the tones of blue to the deep sea blue where there is a thin red band in the depths which represents the Kraken.
This red is the final colour in the logo and the uniforms. The team identify this colour as "Red Alert," Merrill says the red eye of the logo gives a "hint of the beast" and the thinner red lines in the jersey and socks signify that power is always lurking beneath the surface.
Designers Nic Corbett and Matty Merrill from adidas discuss the design of the Seattle Kraken Jersey
We're big fans of the Setalle Kraken colours, logos and jerseys. We can't wait to see them hit the ice and see what custom glove colourways they use, and what their eventual goalies will design ofr their pad and masks.
During an appearance on Hockey Central, CEO of the Oak View group Tim Leiweke said the club will at some point have more threads to show off in honour of their hockey ancestors.
“I won’t spill all the beans,” he said, “but I’ll tell you there’s a third and fourth jersey coming that eventually will honour that legacy and that tradition.”
We expect they may borrow the barber pole striping found on the Metropolitans jerseys, and should be a strong look given the Kraken colour palette.
Be sure to follow the Seattle Kraken on social media: Instagram, Facebook & Twitter