A Hornets Rebrand And Its International Fanbase

Published: April 18, 2012

New Hornets owner Tom Benson has made it known that he wants a new brand for his organisation. What do International fans do with their beloved Hornets being kicked to the curb?

Calling for a rebrand. What do International fans do?

These days products you find in your supermarket all have brands. Sometimes this is the logo, the name or even just the intangible “feel” of it. Branding in sports has become an essentials means to connect an organisation with its customer, city and community.

The New Orleans Hornets have a new owner and are looking at aggressive ways to rebrand to something more New Orleanean.

This makes a lot of sense. The team still has that George Shinn smell that can’t quite be rid of. Even despite a valiant attempt to re-align the teams brand with New Orleans a lot of people still can’t get over the fact that this team just isn’t New Orleans’.

International fans like me don’t see it on the same wave-length. For us we fell in love with the Hornets NBA brand and by virtue have fallen in love with the city of New Orleans.

Whenever there are cry’s for a rebrand I cringe. I don’t quite know how I’m supposed to feel when it comes to this topic. If the Hornets were to relocate back to Charlotte, would my fandom too?

I’ve been fighting with this organisation through all the crap that’s been thrown at them. Finally we have our owner, a man with great ambition.

The Hornets brand itself, George Shinn withstanding, is very likeable. It’s just that when you hear the word “Hornet” you don’t exactly think, “New Orleans.”

The strategy behind a rebrand has to be strong. There’s no use trying to change the name and there being little promotion to raise awareness. Additionally, if the image itself isn’t a bold representation of the city of New Orleans then its purpose will be hollow. Names like the Pelicans don’t exactly scream strength and virtue.

Even if the Hornets label isn’t as strong its Saints counterpart, it’s still somewhat known around New Orleans. Transferring to a new brand is going to take a lot of effort on Benson’s part, this means more investments.

For me there are several options for international fans, but some more plausible than others.

  • Become a Charlotte Hornets fan

I am a massive fan of the Hornets brand. I love the colors, the design of the jerseys, the mascot, everything about it. I understand that there is Shinn-Stinky-Smell still attached for those in New Orleans, but I ignore that (for whatever reason that may be).

The thing is, I find it almost impossible to uproot and change organisations from one that is on the rise (and has a high degree of competence) to one that is almost the opposite.

Even IF the Bobcats (or Charlotte Hornets as they would be known) landed Anthony Davis, their team still has a lot of work to do. That’s not to say they won’t become a contender with Davis as their centrepiece. It’s just they seem to be a lot more of a mess than the New Orleans group.

  • Stop Becoming a fan of the NBA

I’ve thought about this and while I believe it’s near impossible for me to stop following the league entirely, if the Hornets brand is completely removed and the New Orleans rebrand is one that is god-awful, maybe I’d distance myself a little bit more.

Again, I’m not sure that I, or any other international fan would do this as we have a passion that goes (or should go) unquestioned.

  • Become a fan of the New Orleans Rebrand

This is what I’ve been coming to terms with over the past week. New Orleans is a place I hold close to my heart. I’ve seen the city, the people, eaten the food, watched the sports; it’s a city that I’m very much fond of.

Because of that and the emotional investment to defend both the organisation and the city from the national ignoramuses I feel it is my obligation to remain a fan. I’ve grown attached to Operation Tank, to its depressingly funny ability to bring fans together. I love watching Monty Williams do so much with so little. I love how the fans stepped up and purchased 10,000 season tickets, proving to all that there is support within the city.

There’s little reason for me or any other international fan to abandon this organisation. Its traits and values are ones that I value. The people and the fans make me want to be a part of this uprising organisation.

You can feel a surge of excitement about this organisation and its future and that’s something I want to be a part of for the rest of my life.


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