HbyD Roundtable: Seattle Kraken Brand Identity

By JVDW
In Ally Koss
Jul 28th, 2020
3 Comments

For the recent Seattle Kraken announcement/unveiling/releasing, we decided we’d try something different around here. We’re currently a group of four professional designers, all with unique perspectives, so we’re given this a roundtable approach, where we all share our thoughts about Seattle’s new brand identity. Welcome to our very first HbyD Roundtable!

Also, we’ll still be doing a full Breakdown of everything shortly, but this is something to give you a group of designers’ thoughts and conversation about it.

John: Okay, should we get this started? It’s official: the Seattle Kraken. Anybody want to jump in first? First impressions?

Kris: Initial quick reactions: like it. The name is my least favorite, but the “S” logo and the anchor logos are really good.

Ally: Overall, really great work.

Dave: First impression very cool! Like the slightly menacing eye in the S. The name is a bit obscure though. Had to look it up. Overall I’m liking it!

The “Kraken”

From seattlekrakenhockey.com

John: Let’s dive into the name of the franchise. It’s my least favourite part of the whole identity too, as it feels too grounded in a particular moment in time (i.e. too trendy), but at least they did something really great and timeless with the visual identity. (For the record, I was hoping for “Sockeyes”.) Also, I’m surprised by “obscure”. I’ve lived by the ocean most of my life, so I’m totally familiar with what a kraken is. Or maybe I just watched Pirates of the Caribbean too much. But I’ve heard others voice this as well. 

Dave: Anybody wonder why they went singular instead of plural? Kracken is a single monster. Wonder why they didn’t go with Krackens? It’s like saying the Florida Panther or Vegas Golden Knight.

Kris: Didn’t even think of that….I assumed Kraken was one of those words that was the same as a plural. Unless it’s assumed there’s only one big singular Kraken beast that roams the ocean?!

John: Yeah, that never crossed my mind either. Very good point! I would assume you’re right Kris…there was only ever one of them, mythologically speaking?

Dave: Found this so maybe there is just one: The Kraken, in Greek Mythology, is a sea monster of tremendous size and strength. It was born from the titans Oceanus and Ceto, both entities of the sea. Its tentacles are large enough to be able to pull entire ships under the water and destroy cities with relative ease. Just saw this for more detail: https://www.sott.net/article/309547-The-giant-squid-Origin-of-the-mythical-monster-Kraken

The giant squid: Origin of the mythical monster KrakenThe Kraken is perhaps the largest monster ever imagined by mankind. In Nordic folklore, it was said to haunt the seas from Norway through Iceland and all the way to Greenland. (From sott.net)

Dave: Haven’t watched the videos yet, have they introduced or talked about a mascot?

John: I haven’t seen all the videos they’re putting out, but nothing I’ve heard so far.

Ally: Gritty has an idea…

John: Oh Gritty. Never change.

Primary Logo

From seattlekrakenhockey.com

Dave: The more I look at the primary logo the more I like it. Lots of subtleties that grow on you. Super well crafted. And there’s the Metropolitans connection too, which is cool.

John: Definitely, the primary “S” logo does a good job, subtly integrating the tentacled leg into it. And it feels really timeless too. It could last a really long time, this identity. It contains the kraken element without going down the overly-cheesy rabbit hole it easily could’ve.

Ally: Totally agree. It could’ve easily gone overboard, but it’s tasteful and modern and legible in its execution.

Kris: Totally agree. It coulda been like initial-logo-of-the-Raptors bad.

John: Haha, or just a ’90s-in-general type of bad.

Dave: BTW, wondered why I liked the primary logo…

Seattle Kraken (left) and Dave’s SportsBrandJury.com logo element (right)

Dave: Should I be flattered, angry or neither?

John: Definitely flattered. And maybe send them a cease-and-desist letter? 

Dave: I’ll have my team of lawyers contact their team of lawyers, see if I can get a free jersey out of it!

Secondary “Anchor” Logo

From icethetics.com

Kris: The space needle at the top of the anchor is very well done, smart design.

John: Yeah, that Space Needle is my favourite part.

Ally: I’m obsessed with the space needle anchor. So simple and subtle, it’s really perfection.

Dave: One question I have is, why two logos? Seems like they both could be primary, could they just not decide (half kidding)? But aside from expanded merch opportunities, it begs a deeper dive into this schizophrenic strategy. Not necessarily condemning it, but wondering about the high level strategic brand decisions regarding it.

John: I think it’s just a part of sports branding in general nowadays. I doubt the anchor will be featured too prominently anywhere aside as an accent (looks like they’re just shoulder patches on the jerseys for now). But, there’s more and more teams doing this now, having alternate/secondary logos to expand merchandising opportunities, and also for third jerseys and such. But…maybe that’s the topic of the next HbD InDepth? 

Dave: Sounds promising! I will definitely start researching that!

Ally: I agree with John. There’s the more cynical side of me that just views it as a cash grab opportunity, but design-wise they do compliment each other nicely, especially when we look at Vegas’ alternate logo and how it feels like a clip art-y afterthought. I like it a lot as a shoulder patch and can see it having a lot of applications on merch like hats and smaller items.

Kris: Agreed, as it seems fairly standard practice, and merch definitely plays a part. I’d bet a huge sum of money we’ll see a Kraken third jersey within the next 2 or 3 years that features the anchor logo as the chest crest logo. In looking at the NHL, and the NBA too for that matter, the secondary logo is almost always there. Shoulder patch on hockey jerseys and most of the time a logo on shorts side panel or waistband in the NBA.

John: Yeah, wasn’t Vegas supposed to have a third jersey come out this year, before, you know, Covid changed everything? I’m assuming that would be coming next year.

Colour Palette and Jerseys

From seattlekrakenhockey.com

John: I’m just watching the video with the Design Director and Director of Hockey at Adidas about the logo/identity. “No white on the home jersey”. Interesting. Not totally sure how I feel about that.

Kris: I don’t mind the no white on the navy jersey. That lighter aqua tone kinda serves as the lighter contrast balance.

John: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I didn’t even notice it until they mentioned it in the video, so that’s good, right? I’m really loving those different tones of blue though. Jersey-wise, I think that’s my favourite element: taking something so overused as blue and doing something more unique with it. And I love that aqua blue.

Kris: Agreed on the aqua blue tones, really digging it. Unique and very Seattle-esque. It’ll look good on the ice. The navy jersey is fantastic, with two tones of lighter blue and that thin pop of red.

John: They mentioned on the video that it’s in reference to liveries on boats in Seattle, but I think it works too as a symbol for going deeper into the ocean.

From seattlekrakenhockey.com

Kris: Also, goalie gear with this color palette is going to look awesome.

Ally: The masks…I’m already drooling just thinking about it. I love what they did with the color palette overall. Super unique, like John said, but the red feels really at home as opposed to what Vegas did where it looks like an afterthought.

John: I think it works better here than with Vegas because the rest of the elements are more minimalist (there are lots of tones of blue, but it’s still just blue), and there’s actually red on the primary logo too, so there’s a better balance to the entire jersey overall.

Ally: Teal is so underused in hockey, and like you said, it’s so distinctly different from San Jose’s teal that it feels like it has its own true identity.

John: That, tied with the line of red, it almost looks electric or neon. That being said, I’ve always had a thing with navy jerseys…they just end of looking black in game play. I would’ve like to see something just slightly lighter. But the different tones of blue adjacent to the navy might help bring out the blue in the navy than it otherwise would have.

The Wordmark

From seattlekrakenhockey.com

John: What are everybody’s thoughts on the wordmark?

Ally: I saw someone make a Disney’s Haunted Mansion comparison, which made me chuckle, but it has a really cool, modern gothic look. It’s so different from any other team, I really like it. Especially like the beveling – could be a great opportunity for some texture and embroidery.

John: Totally, the bevelling – and the craftsmanship of the wordmark overall – is really great.

Kris: If I’m ranking all the elements I’d probably put the wordmark last. Not because I don’t like it, I just thing the two logos, color palette and jerseys are that much stronger. Agreed that it put a modern vibe on a gothic font….the Seattle text feels a little disconnected…and that’s being a little nit-picky.

John: I’d agree. For me, the wordmark is last as well. It’s a bit less timeless and will probably be the first element to look dated. But, it’s also a place that has the most opportunity for experimentation as it can be relatively easily changed without touching any of the other elements. Which speaks to what Ally said…it’s more unique and different because it can be.

Dave: I also think that the wordmark could have been done better. My first reaction was German brewery on the style. Seems less cohesive with the other elements.

John: I get the connection to the gothic “S” of the logo, but yeah, it’s like an alternate condensed version of it. But…I do like beer… 

Presentation and Reception

Photo: Elaine Thompson, Elaine Thompson. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.

Ally: It’s wild to me how between Seattle and the Henderson AHL reveal how overwhelmingly positive the responses have been to both. Some folks have been making the point that any team name or logo we’re not used to seeing and hearing sounds weird at first, and hockey fans especially can be tough customers with change, but it really speaks volumes to the quality of work by the designers on both.

John: I’ve seen a few negative comments on social media about the Kraken, but they’ve been few and far between for sure. Mostly it’s about the team name (which I get), but this really is just solid work.

Ally: Thinking back to the disaster that was the Vegas reveal…woof.

John: Haha, yeah, that was a total mess. And the Kraken visual brand is, for me, above what the Golden Knights have. It’s not particularly close either.

Ally: No question.

Kris: The group chat video that all teams just put out is pretty solid too, a unique way for the league to participate and get people excited. 

John: I missed that. It’s on Twitter?

Kris:

Element Ranking and Final Grades

From seattlekrakenhockey.com

Kris: So, overall – safe to assume each of us are giving the overall identity an A grade?

John: Yeah, definitely. Maybe an A– because of name and wordmark for me, but overall, it’s an incredibly solid start for the franchise. How would everyone rank the different elements of this new franchise’s brand: name, primary logo, secondary logo, wordmark, jerseys?

Ally: I would say:

  1. 1. Secondary logo
  2. 2. Jersey
  3. 3. Primary logo
  4. 4. Wordmark
  5. 5. Name

Not to imply that I dislike the name, but the secondary logo is really just perfectly elegant and smart, which automatically puts it at the top for me. The jerseys have a modern look with the color palette and ombre-esque arm stripes but stop short of going crazy just for the sake of being “different” which gets them high marks for me too. The wordmark, like we said earlier, is probably the first thing that will be out of date, since it is a trendier lettering style, which basically leaves the primary logo smack in the middle and the name by default.

Dave:

  1. 1. Primary Logo
  2. 2. Secondary Logo
  3. 3. Jersey
  4. 4. Name
  5. 10. Wordmark!

Kris:

  1. 1. Jersey
  2. 2a. Primary Logo
  3. 2b. Secondary Logo
  4. 3. Overall color palette….if we’re counting that as a thing here
  5. 4. Name
  6. 5. Wordmark

John: I think I’d go:

  1. 1. Secondary Logo
  2. 2. Primary Logo
  3. 3. Jersey
  4. 4. Wordmark
  5. 5. Name

What would be your grade for the whole identity so far? Me (A-) and Kris (A) already gave ours.

Ally: I’m going to give it an A- as well. It’s pretty stellar, but it’s really hard to ever say a brand is perfect. There’s always something that could be improved a little bit (as we’ve discussed).

Dave: A-, just because of the wordmark! Overall I really like it!

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

3 Responses to “HbyD Roundtable: Seattle Kraken Brand Identity”

  1. Great discussion. Excellent idea to include a roundtable, rather than just an opinion-based grade without context.

    One thing that I thought you guys might have mentioned: Don’t you think, in all the time it took for this brand to be created and revealed, that the owners met the design team 20 times? And looked at 100 different ACTUAL Kraken depictions for the main logo?

    Having done this too many times myself, I can fully imagine months of of back-and-forth… The presentation of sea monster after sea monster on an easel mounted on black foamcore. A lot of “no”s from the suits, a lot of eye-rolling and teeth gnashing from the designers… And then someone just said, “Screw this. We love the tentacle S that we decided last month would be the secondary logo. Why can’t THAT be the logo?. And which garbage can is that needle/anchor thing sitting in? We all liked that, too. Can’t that be the secondary logo. There! Done!”

    It speaks to the strength and thoughtfulness of the designers that an alphabet letter looks good as the primary logo for a major North American sports team. But I just bet that wasn’t the original plan.

    • JVDW says:

      Unfortunately, we’ll probably never know the actual process and how it went, as those sorts of things are mostly kept behind closed doors. We may get lucky and see some concept drawings at some point down the line, but that’s most likely going to be it.

  2. The Ancient Mariner says:

    So where do you think you would put the logo in your league-wide ranking?

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