Change to Rubber Ducks Signals New Era in Akron
Like they always say, “out with the old and in with the new.”
That’s essentially what happened on Tuesday morning as the Akron Aeros unveiled their new team name, logos, and color scheme. A complete re-branding and re-imagining of the team’s identity was among the top priorities of new owner Ken Babby when he took over last year. Now, after 17 years of representing Akron as the Aeros, the 2014 season will mark the debut and inaugural season for the Akron Rubber Ducks.
Admittedly, when I first heard that the Aeros were about to become the Rubber Ducks I was struck with a bit of confusion and a whole lot of anger. “The Rubber Ducks? Really? That’s the best they could come up with?” Those were the thoughts running through my head this morning at 8 AM. By Lunch time I had completely come around to the idea and was officially on board the Rubber Ducks bandwagon.
But what was it that caused me to so drastically change my stance? Why did I flip-flop from anti-Rubber Ducks to singing “Rubber Duckie, You’re the One?” I changed my mind because once I saw the complete package I couldn’t help but fall in love with the idea of rooting for this team, even if it’s only Double-A baseball.
Besides, other than the fact that the Aeros had been the Aeros for a little over half of my life, what were we really hanging on to? Yes, the Aeros were named the Aeros as a nod to Ohio’s history of aerospace research, but that’s not the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Ohio. It also has not what initially comes to mind when one thinks of Akron. Akron, in case you weren’t aware, has been all about rubber and tires. In fact, it has been dubbed “the rubber capital of the world” and is home to the four largest rubber manufacturers. With the new nick name and logos the Rubber Ducks have managed to tie in that history.
Another factor that eventually led to my full adoption of the new nickname was the ridiculousness of it. After all, this is minor league baseball we’re talking about. Minor League baseball is full of corny promotions, hokey in-game hi-jinx, and all sorts of wacky team names. A short sampling includes Biscuits, Flying Squirrels, Tin Caps, and Jammers. How in relation is “Rubber Ducks” any worse? Plus, as an added bonus the team can now be called the “Rubbers” for short. Let the litany of innuendo laden headlines commence!
In all seriousness, though, there’s a lot to like about the package the Babby and his marketing staff have put together. For starters, while the name is unbelievably childish and corny, it’s fun at the same time. It’s also incredibly unique among other nicknames in team sports. All points in favor of the marketability of the new identity.
Second, the logos are top-notch. Specifically the new primary logo, which combines the thematic elements of a fierce, battle ready duck while also tying in Akron’s long history of tire and rubber manufacturers with noticeable tread marks in the feathers. The same can also be said of the team’s secondary “A” logos, which also incorporate the rubber/tire theme through the use of tread patterns.
Then there is the color scheme. Gone is the overabundance of purple that had been a carryover from a mid to late-90’s explosion of the accursed color. In its place is a much more pleasing and diverse palette of blue, orange, yellow, white, and black. It’s a unique combination of colors that should provide the Rubber Ducks with any number of possible uniform and merchandise ideas.
Third and finally, the new moniker can help the Rubber Ducks achieve the goals set forth by Ken Babby to be “Affordable. Family. Fun.” perhaps even more effectively than the Aeros ever could have. Kids are going to embrace this new nickname and parents will be ready to fork over their hard-earned dollars in order to accommodate. People joke about the connection to Ernie from Sesame Street, but the fact of the matter is that kids love Sesame Street and kids bring in money. In the end, Babby summed it up best:
“The logo accomplishes a lot of things. Right off the bat, it represents the grit and fierceness of this blue-collar market. But it also represents the brand of entertainment that we’re trying to create: a place where you can come in, have fun and forget life’s problems.”
From what we can gather from Babby’s statements, it appears that he “gets it.” Baseball is supposed to be fun and often times is taken way too seriously. Everyone and everything is put under a microscope on a daily basis and we forget that it is a game – a game meant for children. So say what you want about the new name and its childish nature, but don’t try to say it isn’t fun or takes itself too seriously.
Bonus: When it comes time to choose the mascot, we can only hope they opt for the most obvious of choices. The one. The only. Gizmoduck.