At a Gallery Night ceremony in front of Elebash’s Jewelers, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos logo was unveiled on giant hanging banners by team president Bruce Baldwin and Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, with shirts and hats immediately available for sale.
As seen above, there are several versions of the logo, with more to come. The main lockup shows a scrappy wahoo breaking away from a fisherman’s line, hook still in mouth. The words “Pensacola Blue Wahoos” are set in a custom typeface, with hand-tooled swashes reminiscent of the 1960s “Miracle Strip” era. Two alternate logos show a wahoo circling a baseball bat and a fishing hook, both in the shape of “P” for Pensacola. The color palette includes four swatches with the names Neon Red, Gulf Coast Royal, Blue Angel Navy, and Tin Roof Tin. From the official press release:
Blue Wahoos President Bruce Baldwin said that the logo was unique from other sports logos, featuring colors and imagery not commonly used in other sports identities. “This is not going to be your typical baseball team, and we’re not going to give our fans a typical experience. It’s going to be extraordinary — from a beautiful stadium on the water, to a fantastic downtown for fans to enjoy before and after the games, and great community events, but it starts with the look and feel of the team. I think the logo really captures the spirit of Pensacola, and I’m excited about the fans getting to see another aspect of what is going to be a fantastic experience.”
Incidentally, the Blue Wahoos unveiling comes exactly one week after another Florida baseball team with a fish mascot and a stadium under construction — the Miami (née Florida) Marlins — revealed their new logo to decidedly mixed reviews. In contrast, the massive crowd gathered outside Elebash’s greeted the Pensacola Blue Wahoos logo with definite enthusiasm, and plenty of fans lined up afterwards to buy merchandise.
What’s in a name?
The name “Blue Wahoos” was selected in a “Name the Team” contest in May. Contest winner Shelley Yates, marketing director at the Great Southern Restaurant Group, came up with the idea with graphic designer Michael Kenney.
“We agreed that a local fish would be cool — something fun to catch,” Yates said. “From a marketing perspective, we thought that it was a very versatile name. It’s fun to chant. I think it’s funny that wahoos love to go after flying fish — it reminds me of fly balls. We just loved everything about the name.”
Still, Yates said she was shocked to learn her name had won. “I campaigned pretty hard for it using Facebook, so I wasn’t surprised to get close — but to win! Man, that was the best. After I had won, Mr. Studer told me that he really loved to yell ‘wahoo!’ That made me very happy.”
From that point, the name was turned over to Brandiose (formerly Plan B. Branding), a San Diego design firm that specializes in athletic identities. Yates told me Thursday she wished she could have watched the design process, since she has been fascinated with advertising and branding since childhood, but that seeing the finished product would “feel like Christmas” to her.
Matching a brand to a community
Brandiose was founded by Jason Klein and Casey White, two best friends since kindergarten who started designing logos for high school teams in their college dorm rooms. They reinvigorated the classic “Mr. Redlegs” for the Cincinnati Reds, the Blue Wahoos’ major league affiliate, and have created entirely new brands for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, and many others.
“Whenever we work with a team, we want to make their brand larger than life,” said Klein. “We try to find something in the community that serves as an inspiration for the identity.” So he and White traveled to Pensacola in January to “soak up the color and flavor of Pensacola” for several days. In addition to talking with team management, community leaders, and other locals, they got inspiration from the vernacular styles and architecture of Pensacola Beach (including our iconic neon sign) as well as NAS Pensacola and the Blue Angels. The goal was to create a design that is uniquely Pensacola’s.
“Our philosophy is, if you can take a team’s identity and make it fit in another city — any other city in the country — then it’s time to go back to the drawing board,” said Klein.
“‘Blue Wahoos’ is a great name because it’s the sound of fun, and wahoos are a tenacious fish,” Klein said. “We hope it will be an equally fun and tenacious team that takes to the field next spring.”
This article originally appeared on Pensacola Digest.