This post came from 2 thoughts. First, the Raptors announced that their new global ambassador, Drake, would be redesigning the team’s logo and colour scheme, and second, I really wanted to find a reason to try writing some new macros on excel (yes, really). With the idea that the Raptors could be giving up their red and black colours, my initial thoughts were “what colour scheme could they possibly go to?” We started with purple, and then changed to red (to reflect our identity as Canada’s only team), but the idea of changing once again seems almost out of the question. Even when I mentioned this story to a few friends, the instant reaction was “how can you give up red? It’s Canada’s only team”. I usually followed up by pointing out that the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be pretty Canadian despite their blue and white colours; even the Toronto flag is primarily blue and white. The point is, I don’t think we should limit ourselves to a colour strictly because we feel we have to. A team colour should be unique, eye catching, and able to stand out from a crowd. But with that thought, I began to wonder what other colour schemes are out there, and my gut tells me it’s time to go blue.
Ideas From the Fans
Recently, the Raptors held a re-branding contest to get some new ideas from the fans. Contestants were asked to create mock-ups of new jersey designs and could choose between the names Raptors and Huskies. The entries mostly stuck with the existing colour scheme of the Raptors but there were a few entrants that deviated and went with a completely different set of colours.
I really liked the runner up to the contest, “Clean Cut Huskies”, designed by Simon Chen. The jersey design is very clean with a slight touch of minimalism. There’s no logo, and the colour scheme is very similar to the Toronto Blue Jays (with blue being the primary colour). I’m also a big fan of the alternate grey jersey.The winner to the contest is a design by Joey Tang. The colour scheme is identical to the current one used by the Raptors (although there is a blue alternate jersey), the collar represents the Toronto flag, and the old Raptor logo is faded on the back of the jersey. The design elements all seem fine to me on paper, but something about the overall look of this jersey doesn’t wow me. Even though this next design was not an entry to the contest, I wanted to add it to this post because I’m a big fan of it. The design by Project 34 is minimalism in its truest form. The slight accents of red work well with the white on white and black on black colour schemes, and the redesigned logo isn’t bad either. I would buy this jersey in a heartbeat.
Are We Obligated to Stay Red?
After the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis, Toronto became the only NBA team north of the border. This led to a new marketing vision for the Raptors, labelling themselves as “Canada’s team”. This was one of the major reasons for changing the uniforms to red, to accentuate this new found identity. However, I think it would be naive to think that the Raptors represent Canada. Although neighbouring cities such as Hamilton and Mississauga boast a lot of Raptor fans, a city such as Vancouver is not primarily made up of Toronto fans. Ditto Montreal. Cities such as those have a ton of educated basketball fans, but no real alliance to Toronto (probably a trickle effect from the deep-rooted rivalries in hockey). If this is the case, then does it make sense to label ourselves as Canada’s team? The Raptors are trying to build their fan base across the nation and a play at national pride was surely part of their plan, but while that strategy may work for the casual basketball fan, the die-hard NBA fans across Canada are not going to be swayed by a mere colour scheme. They need the Raptors to put a solid team together before they even think of buying in.
Is Blue Played Out?
Taking data from the hackathon project, team colours, I plotted each NBA team’s colour scheme in a simple doughnut chart. Each ‘spoke’ is a team’s colour scheme, with the primary colour being the inner most circle. You can identify the few teams that are known for their colours such as the purple & gold of the Lakers or the Boston Celtics green (naming all the spokes would make a fun interactive game, but that’s a project for another day). What was interesting to me was seeing that the majority of teams from all 4 major sports leagues pick blue as their primary colour. It’s true that there are benefits to picking either blue or red but I figured there would be a lot more variety within the leagues.
NHL – The colour spectrum is similar to the NBA with 73% making up red and blue, although at an even split. Overall, they have the least amount of primary blue teams but using gold as a secondary/tertiary colour seems to be quite the trend. 36% Blue
While blue is the dominant choice for the primary colour of NBA teams, I have to make the argument that there’s still some room for more blue. All blues aren’t created equal, and secondary colours only further distinguish a team’s set of colours. I can tell the difference between Oklahoma City’s sky blue and light orange and the blue and orange of the New York Knicks (on the other side, I really don’t see a difference between the red used by either Houston, Chicago, or Toronto, although they are all different shades of red). So while blue may be overwhelmingly used, there may still be room for one more.
To conclude my rant, I fully endorse the idea of the Raptors in blue. The idea of too many teams with blue as their primary may be valid, but while red is an easier colour to identify, there are more applicable shades of blue (dark to light blue is fine. Dark red is fine but pink isn’t). So it would be easier to distinguish ourselves colour-wise compared to if we stayed red. Adding on the fact that white and blue are the colours of Toronto makes this a no-brainer for me.