A Brand We Love: The Charlotte Hornets
We could get all nostalgic here about the Charlotte Hornets, but we simply don’t have enough space to recount the Clapping Cobra’s various teal and purple memories from his formative years. (But if he had to choose a top one, it would definitely be this.) Honestly, we could write quite a few hate-posts about former owner George Shinn (in cahoots with Ray Wooldridge) moving the team down to New Orleans, too. But today, that’s all water under the bridge. It’s opening night in the Queen City, and it’s all come full circle.
The Charlotte Hornets’ name has returned to its rightful home. The Bobcats moniker will be just as quickly forgotten as the terrible owner for which that iteration of the team was named. But we’re not here just to praise a name and color combo that was as much a hit in the late 80s as it is today. We’re here to say we love everything the organization has done up to this point, too.
Once the name was secured, the “Buzz City” campaign started in earnest. Beyond creating a niche campaign that included segue merch, it built genuine anticipation leading up to this moment. While the team has a new logo that’s modern and slick, they also have the luxury of using the vintage icon, too.
However, there have been additional touches that have been outstanding as well. Someone within the organization (we can only assume a marketer) has finally used one the team’s greatest assets this week: the owner. The GOAT granted ESPN an interview. He also took over the team’s social media channels for a bit, which was a stroke of genius that shined a spotlight on the entire team. Throw in a redesigned court that’s garnered rave reviews, and it seems as if the Hornets have nailed their entire rebrand, from A to Z.
No one can say the marketing department hasn’t set up the team with expectations. But the buzz will only last as long as the product on the floor produces. Whether it was intentional or happenstance, the team becoming competitive last year is the best marketing plan possible. Offseason signings have cemented a commitment to winning (as did today’s 4-year extension to point guard Kemba Walker). The team has the playoffs in sight.
But all those expectations are for later. Today, let’s just return to a simpler time, when the Charlotte Hornets were the toast of the town, even during their first woeful seasons. It’s definitely good to have them back—especially since the Clapping Cobra can break out his Starter jacket once again.