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chicago cubs logoIn light of the Chicago Cubs’ continued evolution under the Ricketts Family regime, both on the baseball side and the business side, it should be no surprise that the Cubs “brand” is also being evaluated for change and improvement.

According to a BN’er who was at a small focus group held earlier this week by marketing executives, the Cubs are exploring a number of branding changes in the coming years, including new uniforms and a new logo.

Although the familiar home pinstripe unis aren’t under consideration for revamping, the focus group was shown a variety of potential road uniform changes, including a navy blue look (as opposed to the “Cubbie blue”), which was apparently designed to have a “vintage” feel. The Cubs are also considering regular throwback jerseys that they would wear on Sundays, or at least some kind of alternate jersey which would commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Wrigley Field in 2014. Similarly, the revamped road jerseys are under consideration for 2014.

The group was also shown a variety of different Cubs logos, according to the source, though the classic “C” cap logo is not currently being reconsidered (whew). The reconsidered logos ranged from subtle changes to the “C,” to the old school bear look, to completely new logos.

The source also noted that there seemed to be a great deal of interest in whether fans would buy new gear if the logos/uniforms were changed. In other words – and this is me surmising, rather than having been told this directly – the Cubs want to know if they could increase their merchandise sales if they had new looks to offer, versus continuing to sell the same looks. (That said, I believe there is considerable sharing of merchandising revenues among baseball teams, so I’m not quite sure of the angle here.)

The group also discussed the ballpark experience, which is, itself, an additional layer of Chicago Cubs branding. Of particular note was a discussion of a large video board – yes, that would be a “JumboTron.” Nothing is finalized, but it appears that installing a JumboTron for the 2014 season is very much under consideration. It would be placed in left field, essentially where the “Toyota” sign currently resides. That placement would reduce rooftop blocking, would be viewable by most of the folks in the stands, and would not interfere with the aesthetic view from inside the ballpark, out into the neighborhood. According to the source, the group reaction to the proposal was actually almost universally positive.

The JumboTron, while not quite in the same branding vein as logos and uniforms, is a part of the changing fan experience at Wrigley Field. Obviously a large video board has long been considered for Wrigley, and was necessarily going to be discussed as a part of the planned renovations. Not only would it change the fan experience – more stats, replays, between-innings entertainment (I know, some of you just gagged, but I’m told the Cubs continue to promise that there won’t be anything cheesy) – but it would also provide the Cubs with strong additional revenue opportunities through advertising on the board.

The source indicated that the Cubs took the secrecy of this focus group very seriously, which tells me that they understand the sensitive nature of some of the changes they put on the table before the group. More importantly, it suggests that the Cubs are not simply floating trial balloons here – these are actual changes they are considering for implementation within the next two seasons.

The Cubs’ rebranding efforts are being led by new Senior Director of Marketing Alison Miller, who spoke to fans about the marketing side of the business at this year’s Cubs Convention. Miller, whose prior credits include General Mills and Harvard Business School, was brought on board last July to help modernize the Cubs’ marketing efforts. Her responsibilities shifted upward when former marketing chief Wally Hayward left the Cubs in favor of a marketing firm he created together with the Ricketts Family.

I reached out to the Cubs for comment on these initiatives, and corresponded with Cubs Manager of Communications Kevin Saghy. Although he said no branding changes are planned, he confirmed that the Cubs have conducted a number of surveys, focus groups and research over the last several months under the direction of Miller. He also confirmed that the Cubs are “making an effort to get feedback from our fans on a number of topics including our brand, fan purchase habits and renovations.”

In other words, I take it that, yes, these kinds of initiatives are seriously being considered by the Cubs, even if nothing is technically, formally planned at this time.

This will be a storyline to follow as the renovation at Wrigley Field continues, and as the culture of the Cubs continues to change/modernize (which I mean in a good way, for whatever that’s worth). In the near term, I wouldn’t look for much on the branding front in 2013, but it sounds like next offseason could bring substantial news in that arena.

And, of course, I’m sure we’ll all be following the JumboTron storyline closely.

[Yes - thankfully I managed to do most of the writing and digging for this piece before The Little Boy arrived.]

  • Timmy

    Teams change or make adjustments to uniforms every so often. I’m fine with that. And I’m definitely fine with upgrading the bathrooms and ridding ourselves of the worst Cubs tradition–the trough. But I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced that the park needs a jumbotron.

    • Patrick W.

      “needs” and “can benefit from” are two different things. I’m ambivalent to a JumboTron. Even at games where they exist, I find myself ignoring them mostly.

  • Alden

    The pinstripes need to stay. I’m all for bringing back the old school bear as a secondary type thing a la the Red Sox with the B and the hanging socks. That would be something I’m perfectly fine with.

  • dash

    The logo really needs a remake. The blue circle around the C was made really heavy back in the early 80s, I think, and it looks too much like a target. I’ve been hoping they’d get around to this!

  • http://www.cubsbythenumbers.com Kasey Ignarski

    Darn. I was contacted by the Cubs to be in a focus group but the days mentioned were not possible for me to participate, so I took a pass. This would have been real interesting to hear about, especially the bit about the Logo & Uniform change. I have long thought that the Cubs needed to make some changes there as a)the Cubs uni has basically been the same for a while now (especially the home uni) and I know new uni’s bring in money from people buying them and b)While I love the Bullseye logo, A new logo wouldn’t really bother me too much (unless they base it on the walking bear logo, which I hate). As much as I love the tradition of Wrigley & the Cubs, the teams image needs to be freshened up along with the new ideas being presented in the front office.

    As for a Jumbotron, while I have softened on the idea over the years and the success of integrating the LED board in right field has been a big part in my softening on the issue, I still wonder where they would put a Jumbotron that would be big enought for todays fans. Just to put on where the Toyota sign is would not give you a big enough screen (IMHO) for replays, stats and ads. To put a small one there in todays time and age would just be a mistake that would have to be replaced in a few years anyway when the mistake is corrected.

    • frank

      I, too, can do without the walking bear . . .

  • CubsFanBob

    I guess NDA are meaningless these days.

    • mak

      Hardly think they’d make the surveyed people sign an NDA. Besides, what consideration are they getting to make it valid?

      *apologizes for lawyer speak*

      • CubsFanBob

        I’ve organized and ran thousands of focus groups. Each and everyone had the respondents sign binding NDA’s.

        Wonder if it was held at Wrigley or a one of the many focus group facilities in the city.

        • mak

          Interesting. Wouldn’t think it would be enforceable.

          • JulioZuleta

            I’m sure participants were paid. That’s the consideration. I used to do a fair amount of focus groups and I almost always had to sign one.

  • JohnDon

    I would be all for a logo and uniform upgrade that kept to the traditional styles of the past. The way I see it the current uniform is associated with the “Loveable Losers” version of the Cubs. An upgrade might be a big step in redefining the image if the team back to what it was in the early 1900′s a perennial powerhouse that was always a threat to go to the World Series.

    • Mike Stanger

      Totally agree; thanks for making my post for me!

  • mak

    I’m OK with all of these — none sound too intrusive. I personally love when the teams rock the throwbacks on Sunday.

    As for a “jumbotron,” if they place it in LF and keep the old scoreboard, I think it’s a fair compromise. It won’t ruin the feel of Wrigley, in my opinion. The biggest issue is WHAT they do with the jumbotron. I can’t stand how most teams use it with loud music, annoying/distracting graphics, etc. I know it sounds like I’m 60 years old — but in fact, I’m only 28. The lack of gimmicky graphics and loud music is what makes the Wrigley experience. I remember that every time I venture to Milwaukee or the South Side.

    Lastly, isn’t there like a 20 year deal with Toyota on that ugly signage? Would be great to dump it, but I assume it would end up in RF.

    • Pat

      It was a three year deal

    • http://goodfoodgoodwinegooddog.com Valerae

      I’m with you on the jumbotron. The husband is a Phillies fan & we live in the NE so we attend a fair amount of games at Citizens Bank Park, home of, I think the largest HD jumbotron in the league? I love when we have seats where we can’t see it. It’s loud and obnoxious. I don’t need a two minute video of the players talking about their favorite breakfast cereal. Went to one pitchers duel game where we were in the top tier and I found myself watching the jumbotron during most of the game but couldn’t help it – it was big, loud and it was right there. If I wanted to be distracted by something other than the game, I’d have pulled out my phone.

      I love going to Wrigley where they only distractions are the entertaining crowd, beer and big pretzels. It’s about the game and experiencing real baseball. Not watching television. I’m only 32 but get off my lawn.

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    I’d like to see them bring back the script “Cuba” uniform of the mid 1990s on the road.

    Home unis are classic. Don’t change them.

    Replace the walking Cub with the standing Cub with a bat that they used in the Chance era and again in the 1930s. Those unis of the 30s, including the late part of the decade, would look great on Sundays. The Cubs have been lagging in the retro uniform trend, just doing it once every couple of years.

  • Jeremy

    I have no problem with any of these potential changes you elaborated on. It’s time that the Cubs finally have a modern stadium to play in while keeping the historical elements of Wrigley Field in tact. I have no problem with a jumbotron or new changes to the Uniforms outside of the home pinstripes and the C on the cap.

  • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

    Today’s lineup has a future feel to it. Soler RF, Baez SS and Lake 3B. Go boys, get back into that Hall of Fame discussion.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      hmmm, there is a decent chance that Soler will have a PA in which he sees more pitches than Baez and Lake see all game!

      • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

        Oh Doc, you are so wrong. Those Baez and Lake strikeouts will elevate their pitch counts.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          touché……

  • David

    I know I’m in the minority here, but I wish they’d go pinstripe-less on the home unis. That one time they wore the all white throwbacks in 08 (against Atlanta – the Kasper “HEY HEY” game) they looked awesome.

    i guess if the throwbacks are like that, that’d be good enough for me.

    • Derrek

      I am indifferent about the pinstripes but a fresh look would not hurt. Those jerseys from that Atlanta throwback game were awesome. I’d be happy if those were the everyday home jerseys!

    • 100 Years of Tears

      The whole deal that day was awesome. I sat in the bleachers and they had the vendors in old-time get-ups selling smokey links for a dollar. It was hotter than hell, but it was one of the most fun games I’ve been to. If I’m not mistaken, Cubs won it in the 11th inning.

    • Matty

      I’m with you – ditch the pinstripes. Like Wrigley, the only thing associated with the Cubs wearing pinstripes at home is losing.
      Look at photos from the ’20′s and ’30′s when the Cubs were actually relevant. THOSE are the “classic” jerseys the Cubs should be wearing (minus wool as the fabric of course).

    • OlderStyle

      Ditch. The. Pinstripes.

      Of all the historical unis, I love the mid 50′s era that Ernie Banks wore. Those just oozed class.

      I’ve never bought a Cubs jersey because I can’t stand the pinstripes.

  • BluBlud

    I’m a Cubs fan, and I will be a Cubs fan no matter what the Logo looks like. If modernizing it help create revenue in any kind of way that will put a better product on the field, lets do it.

    As for the Jumbotron, why don’t we just get rid of that ugly ass score board that we have sitting in center field. It’s outdated by, Oh I don’t know, 50-60 years, at least, and maybe more like 80-90 years. We could put a brand new, state of the art, Jumbotron in dead centerfield, where it would fit best, and that would solve the size and location problems. Then our fans can get updated scores to the second like most ballparks and not have to wait for some old guy to climb several flight of steps with a green Card.

    As for the Uni’s, I don’t have to wear them, so, it makes no difference to me.

    • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

      We may be in the minority, but I agree. The current Wrigley scoreboard is a museum piece. Put it next to the dinosaur bones and put up the Jumbotron.

    • frank

      As I understand it, the current scoreboard falls under landmark status and cannot be touched.

      • BWA

        and rightfully so

      • Ben (BG2383)

        Thank god for it being landmarked. Not much is sacred but that scoreboard is

      • Spencer

        They can’t even add a row to the scoreboard so all the teams fit on it. I think they should at least be allowed to do that. The scoreboard has been altered before.

    • JB88

      I always thought the best place to put the Jumbotron was directly below the scoreboard and raise that sucker another 20-25 feet in the air. Plus, that would effectively solve the issue of blocking the rooftops. My second choice was where the Toyota sign is currently.

      In any event, a jumbotron will only enhance the experience of going to the park and I’m all for it.

  • Jono

    Anything to put a better team on the field. If changing the brand brings in more merchandise revenue (even with revenue sharing), and if that extra revenue helps improve the team, then im all for it. Maaaaayyyybe if the cubs had traditional uniforms like detroit or the Yankees, then id be more resistant to rebranding. But their branding has already changed so many times that there’s really no tradition to enjoy.

    • Jono

      No tradition with their uniforms, I mean. Obviously there’s TONS of tradition throughout the field that I wouldn’t want touched, like the scoreboard and ivy

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    The big C with small ubs inside dates back to 1910 or 1911. It was resurrected in 1937. I’d consider that traditional.

    • Jono

      I didn’t know that. Maybe I would care if it stuck around that whole time

      • Jono

        I consider tradition something that happens on a consistent basis and that has been happening for a long time. The current cubs logo definitely does not fit that description.

  • cubzfan23

    Brett it’s funny you refer to your son as “The Little Boy”. I have always referred to mine as “The Boy” since I can remember. He’s 15 now and I think he gets mad when I’m talking too someone and say something like yea “The Boy has grown up. I still crack up when I think about it. It wasn’t something I did to be funny just kind of stuck.

  • cubzfan23

    I think I would like the new branding idea. Look why not, new culture, new team, new digs.

  • Leroy

    The Cubs road jerseys that had “CUBS” written across it was nice. I absolutely hope they revamp the jerseys. I think it would improve marketing exponentially.

  • Michael

    I hope they go back to the 80s logo, in my mind its the best they ever had

    [img]http://s7d2.scene7.com/is/image/Fathead/63-63254_mlb_cubs_classic_logo_prod?layer=comp&wid=500&hei=500&fmt=jpeg&qlt=95,1&op_sharpen=1&resMode=bicub&op_usm=0.5,0.2,0,0&iccEmbed=0&bgc=0xdedede&bgColor=0xdedede[/img]

    • cubchymyst

      I keep a patch of that logo in my office at all times.

    • Brian

      YES, this ^^^ I love this logo … bring it back!

  • Derrek

    The home pinstripes are a keeper. I’m all for a revamped road and alternate jersey. I did like the pull-over vest deal they had going on for awhile… maybe bring something like that back? My all-time favorite though are the 1940′s road jerseys. I’m not sure why, they just look good to me.

    A jumbo-tron is fine. No kiss-cams or anything like that. If these become white-sox games I will be quite upset (no girls throwing t-shirts during innings or any trashy acts like that).

    I’ve been saying for years that Wrigley needs a sound-system upgrade. This does not mean they need to blast music between innings, it would just be nice to have a clear sound-system… one that does not sound like they are using soup cans for speakers.

    If they play this move smart, which it seems they are doing, then this will be a win-win in everyone’s book.

  • Jack Weiland

    Like many on here, I’m totally fine with a Jumbotron (time to join the 20th century) as well as revamped road and alternate unis. Changing the pinstripes on the home unis would make me sad, though.

  • Jim

    The Cubs should do something similar that the Bears did some years back where they had the logo with a pissed off Bear. That is what we need – a pissed off Cub. No more cute and cuddly Cub, it is time to get mean! Maybe this pissed off Cub could be breaking a bat over his knee ala Big Z?

  • Eduardo

    I agree with the jumbotron in center field idea. why not have it so the jumbotron looks just like the scoreboard now, but changes in between innings and replays are being shown.

  • Larry Bittner

    Cubby blue and the “C” sucks. I bought 10 cubs hats over the past 7 years and not one was a real game hat. 4 were navy blue with non-traditional Cs and patches. Also, I bet the grey uni shirts outsell the home shirts 2-1. The grey shirts are just cooler looking. They should just design a whole new logo/font, whatev and do it right. The current uni’s are outdated and remind me of the 80′s. Jumbo tron is cool.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Hey now …

  • JulioZuleta

    I’m on board with the JumboTron, and most other things that reasonably preserve the Cubs feel. I will say though, they need to be careful. If they try to make any sweeping changes, it could turn off a lot of casual fans.

  • Larry Bittner

    Cubs need to drop prices of Merchandise in ballpark. Why buy when the boys across the street offer more variety, better pricing and no lines?

  • Tim Bernier

    1. Don’t touch the blue pinstripes. Do what you want with Away jerseys.
    2. I’d rather not have a logo change at all. Unless we’re making the walking bear less popular, or are replacing the walking bear with something else. Don’t touch the circular Cubs logo.

  • Rocco

    It seriously makes me feel ill to think about such changes to the Cubs. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Sure “upgrades” to Wrigley would be convenient, but these modernized ballparks are more about fancy food, exhibitions and luxuries than the ballgame. It just doesn’t fit the Cubbie culture. I have not been very happy with many of changes the Ricketts family have made and continue to consider. Maybe i’m too nostalgic, maybe I’m too conservative, or maybe I’m the one who is out of touch. But, I’ve been to New Yankee stadium, I’ve been to upgraded Fenway, and I’ve been to plenty of new “great” parks like Safeco and they have lost some baseball character with all the glitz, sushi, and comfy seats they’ve gained. The looks aren’t the same, the smells aren’t the same, and most importantly it just doesn’t feel the same. I’m all for progress in this world, but our fans continue to fill the park and will continue to do so regardless of jumbotrons, shiny new ball park features and new uniforms. USE THE MONEY TO INVEST IN UPGRADES TO PLAYERS AND PERSONNEL everything else about our beloved Cubbies is perfect the way it is.

    • gocatsgo2003

      1) In many senses of the word (both literal and figurative), Wrigley Field is broken. Chunks of concrete falling from the sky, etc.
      2) Even if the Cubs have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on free agents, many wouldn’t want to come because of the poor condition of the baseball facilities in Wrigley. If I’m not mistaken, Theo has actually stated as much publicly.

  • Goldie

    I’m 56 and have been a Cubs fan since I was old enough to understand. I moved away for a while and will never forget the feeling I had when I returned to Wrigley for the first time in several years. It took my breath away as an adult, just as it did as a child. That having been said, I’d trade away the historical charm in a heartbeat for a championship in my lifetime. Judging by the renderings and this latest information, we can have both. You can’t have the resources to build the best organization in baseball with a chance to win with regularity without revenue producing avenues such as the JumboTron and licensed apparel? Seems like a pretty easy decision. Time to stop living in the past Cub fans.

  • 100 Years of Tears

    This is a pretty interesting look at cubs’ uni’s over the years…

    http://www.goatriders.org/history-of-cubs-jersey

  • Rocco

    150 years of beautiful tradition from Tinker-Evans-Chance to Harry Caray, you’re goddamn right I’m living in the past!

    Go ahead throw it all away, let’s become just another modern cookie cutter baseball franchise. Let’s lose the tradition, character and magic that makes the Cubs and Wrigley Field the best thing in sports. Bring in all the glitz, glamour and superficial crap that is marginalizing our National Pastime. Next you guys are gonna tell me that we should adopt the DH.

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