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.]

  • justinjabs

    I love the walking bear on the shoulder, personally. Interested to see what they’ll come up with.

    • Northside Neuman


  • Cub Fan Dan

    As long as “Winning the World Series” is still included in the overall organizational plan, I am cool with all of this.

  • WI Jeff

    Create as many looks as you can! Refresh it all. I am a buyer. Just say no to the Bill Veeck softball or collared uniforms….. Go Cubs!

  • Kasey Ignarski

    We need to go back to this…The Angry Cubs Logo they used under Dallas Green back in 1983


    • chuck rios

      that would be a great sleeve patch; personally, i’d like to see a sleeveless alternate jersey with an updated wishbone “c” and that standing bear…the cubs were the first to wear the vest. but i know you know that, mr ignarski. i’m aware of your book “cubs by the numbers”.

  • JoyceDaddy

    They should go back to the logo from 1907-1908 when they won back to back world series. Why haven’t we thought of this before?!?!

    • Spencer

      That bear was a fatty.

  • Eric

    Dumb idea. All re-designs are failures. Look at Miami Marlins!

    • Damon F.

      Couldn’t hurt. The cub home uniform is one of the worst.

      • Sports Notions

        Whoa, I think that their home uni’s are one of the best in baseball. Classic blue pinstripes are better than the Yankees.

        • BronxBomber

          A lighter shade of blue is better than the Yanks/New York! You are an asshole! So are your parents for not aborting you, you “wasted nut”!

          • TWC

            Ah, ‘Merica…

            Where a three-month-old comment on a post written six months ago can have folks still apoplectic.

            It’s like those flame wars that Jefferson and Adams got into when Adams was in France.

            • C. Steadman

              or the new tv show about the Hatfields and McCoys present day

  • August

    Uniform changes?
    My magic 8 ball says:
    New sunday/special home or road uniform: Solid navy shirt, with the solitary white “C”, matching cap, plus either grey road pants or white for home, all baggy “throw-back” style.

  • I-CubsFanBoy

    I’ve thought the road uni’s were kinda lame and boring for awhile. Maybe a connection to the first half of the 20th century (when we actually won pennants) wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I’m not sure how they could really change the “C” logo for the better though.

  • Valerae

    Anything to get rid of the dumpy gray pants is fine by me. They look so shabby on the road.

  • Die hard

    No change can avoid first impression of a cuddly teddy bear

  • cubmig

    ……if Ricketts and the FO are brain-storming………. Why don’t they just have the Cubs play the 2013 season in the club’s historic1908 style WS uniforms, and be done with it? A kind of “Back-to-the-Future” challenge and daily reminder for the present team to infuse themselves with the then winning spirit and repeat history. What can it hurt?

  • coal

    As much as I’m curious about the changes, and the focus group inside info, I do feel icky that a Cubs fan took part in this and then leaked it to …. well, the “press.” The leakers, posters and readers among us should be forbidden from snarking at the front office over the Dempster (and other) trade leaks.

  • Kyo

    The very first thing they should do is bring back at least one uniform (preferably the regular home one) that has only a number on the back, and no name. I don’t mind names on the dull gray roads, but the white home pinstripes shouldn’t have names on them.

    Only numbers at home, names on the road; this is how the Cubs did it for many years, and how the Giants and Red Sox do it now.

    Do this and I’ll buy one the day they go on sale.

    • Hee Seop Chode

      The Cubs tried this in 2003. I know, because I still wear my Corey Patterson jersey and few people know to laugh at me.

      • Stangman

        I love your name.

  • Valerae

    I’d love to see the socks made mandatory. Soriano is the classiest looking guy out on the field on a regular basis. The baggy pants look like they’re wearing pajamas.

    I also totally dig the cursive Chicago font they used on the road uniforms in the 30’s. To me it evokes the history of the team and the town. Love it.

  • JenInChicago

    Ugh….please not Navy. In the 4 major leagues, Navy use is growing more rapidly than any other color.

    Keep the Cub blue. (although, I did like the bp jerseys and caps from a few years ago that were Navy…..)

  • Hee Seop Chode

    Am I the only one who doesn’t want a jumbotron? God knows I see enough advertising in my life. I appreciate clean non-distracted view of the game.

    I hate the kiss cam. I don’t like the dunkin donut race. I do like the calm green color that blends into the beautiful ivy.

    If enhanced stats are so critical to enjoying a game (they’re not), why no provide strong, reliable, password free wifi inside the park? There are plenty of apps and sites that provide more and better stats than any one source.

    • Bigg J

      It’s all about the $$$$$$$$$$

    • DarthHater

      I hate jumbotrons, but if it is a significant source of revenue and competitor teams are gaining the advantage of that source, I think you have to keep pace or find a comparable alternative revenue stream.

      • Hee Seop Chode

        That’s a bit of a cop out. Say it creates 30M a year of radditional, new evenue. After taxes and related expenses, you’re looking at maybe 15M of revenue to sell one of the most unique apects od the game day experience – and with it the cubs brand.

        The tv deal alone will provide enough revenue to field a top 5 or top 3 payroll. $15M a year is relatively insignificant.

        • DarthHater

          It isn’t a cop out. You should read more carefully. I said IF it is a significant source of revenue. I also expressly allowed for possible substitute revenue sources. If you think a jumbotron is not that significant a source of revenue and/or that TV revenues provide a sufficient alternative source, those are factual issues that are not inconsistent with what I said.

        • hansman1982

          Actually, 30M in additional revenues would allow for 30M more to be spent. For each dollar spent on the facilities or the players would reduce the taxed income by that amount.

          It’s no different than if a farmer had a good crop year and got an additional $200K from the crops. So long as he uses that $200K to buy a new combine, all of it goes “into his pocket” tax free. If he just puts it in the bank, then yes, he would pay taxes on all of that $200K.

          This is why farmer’s usually have a lot of really nice things and the federal government thinks they are so incredibly broke.

  • KDub

    The Cubs need to leave the shade of blue alone. They had some navy colored BP jerseys a few years ago and they looked awful. They are not the Bears. I’m all for changing up the uniforms, but how about a throwback look? I always liked the sleeveless style with the arched stripe on front. Oh, and bring back the red striped stirrups too!

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  • Ryno Bagjockey

    Cubs Suck since 1908. That is all.

    • DarthHater

      Thanks. Your return flight to Douchebagistan leaves in ten minutes…

  • Kygavin

    I seem to be the one of the few who like the walking bear logo… i am all for keeping that logo and changing the road unis. Hate the all gray look. I would love them to go to the blue alternate tops as the road uniforms.
    I am also 100% against the Jumbotron. I get that it will bring in more revenue but it is distracting and takes away from the baseball atmosphere (coming from a 21 yr old). There is no need to have something going on at all times. Just sit back and enjoy the beauty that is Wrigley

    Side note: Best move that can possibly be made is getting rid of the troughs. Needs to be done immediately

  • Al

    The Cubs should go back to the 1940-1941 uniforms for home and road

  • Al

    The Cubs should also contact the construction group that handled the renovations of Fenway Park in Boston what they did in Fenway is remarkable Also should contact major-league baseball about the possibilities of playing in White Sox Park for one year set of renovation can take place within a calendar year it’s the only way to do it

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  • MashedTater

    I divorced myself from baseball during the “juicing era” and thus became a free agent. Three years ago I adopted the Chicago Cubs. I chose the Cubs because of day baseball, history and Wrigley Field. If I could choose a uniform with a new logo it would be: keep the current Cubbie Blue pinstripes, use the Waving Cubbie Bear logo on the chest, have either the scoreboard or the marquee as a sleeve patch and eliminate player names on the back of the jersey. Fun for all ages and attractive to non Cubs fans but fans of
    Wrigley Field. Marketing department should find this to be a winner.

  • Steve

    Is there any chance that both Castro and Rizzo, who barely has had one full year of major league experience, will be playing winter league baseball???

  • Steve

    I am a die hard Cardinals fan, so the Cubs are, by far, not my favorite team. However, like most Cardinal fans, and Cub fans alike, I appreciate the history of the game as well as the integrity of the game. One thing that I was thinking about when reading this article about the possible uniform changes, is, why can’t they alter the home uniform some? The Cardinals have the best uniform in baseball (See this year’s Uni Power Rankings) and they have had the best uniform, I believe, for a long time. I know that one of the things that goes hand in hand with the history of the cubs, is their pin striped home uniform, with the C logo on the chest. But, why can’t they at least see about doing away with the pin stripes? OR, maybe a Sunday home uniform that does away with the pin stripes and has a colored jersey or vest jersey with plain white, or a single piping stripe down the leg? I think that if the Cubs are looking to revamp their brand, they should look at moving forward, and no offense (seriously), there’s not a lot of winning history that goes with the pin stripe uniforms. So why not try it? I think that they could have a great looking uniform if they do away with the pin stripes and go with a deeper blue. Sort of to the likeness of maybe Cincinnati’s uniform, where their wishbone C logo is on the chest, and they just have piping rather than the pin stripes. The navy blue, complimented with the red C on the chest could really make a great Cubby get up. Here’s to the best, most friendly rivalry in baseball. Cheers.

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