We haven’t always seen consistent play from the Colorado Rockies since their inaugural season in 1993. But what we have seen is an extraordinarily consistent look when it comes to their uniforms and overall branding.
This offseason, however, the Rockies have been busy making slight adjustments to their branding. It all started when they introduced a lighter shade of purple, in an effort to have a more consistent color across the board (apparently they didn’t like the deep purple/almost blue look at their night games).
They followed that up with a swap of their logos, with the standard CR lockup recognized as the primary logo and the purple mountains getting demoted to a secondary logo. In other news, it was the other way around before, apparently. The use of these logos will essentially remain the same on the uniforms, with the CR on the hat and the mountain patch on the sleeve. The change was made so that press outlets would consistently use the CR logo (which most were already doing) when talking about the Rockies. So when you see the ESPN score ticker or check the box score on MLB.com, you should be seeing the CR logo.
The most curious update wasn’t announced. Instead, it was quietly revealed on the media guide for 2017. It’s hard to tell how serious the Rockies are about using this new logo because usually something like this would come with some form of announcement, but when asked about it on Twitter they responded that fans “will see that around this year.” Obviously, we won’t bee seeing on any uniforms or hats, but maybe it will be floating around on letterheads or programs.
For a team that has kept the same look for the last 24 years, do these slight changes signal a larger re-brand? It’s unlikely that a new color of purple is the gateway that will reveal the path to a new look, but what this does say is that the front office is open to change, even if that change is relatively small, and they are focused on the details.
That being said, are the Rockies due for an updated uniform design?
Rather than waiting for the Rockies to re-brand, we’re going to turn to Purple Row’s talented community and just go ahead and crowd source it. If you have the chops to design, make a new Rockies logo and share it with us. Or, for the textual types, describe what you think the Rockies new branding should look like. Maybe someone else will pick it up. We’ll highlight our favorites.
To help give this question some context and perhaps inspire the community during the thinking process, we should examine the three other teams that came into existence right around the same time as the Rockies (the Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays) and explore their uniform history. I reference these teams specifically because it’s hard to compare the Rockies to a franchise like the Dodgers or Cubs who have been around for decades and have years of brand equity in their favor. By looking at these three teams, we can see what the new franchises have done to update their designs and stay current.
The Marlins, Diamondbacks and Rays have all experienced a serious overhaul since their opening season. We’ll start with the Marlins who held out the longest with the black and teal look until they changed their name from the Florida Marlins to Miami Marlins and decided that orange was the primary color of their future. Very little of what existed in the Marlins’ original look carried over to what we see now, outside of the slight teal shading we see on their logos.
The Tampa Bay Rays, born the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, also made some drastic changes that were most definitely for the best. When they started out in 1998, they sported a unique but decidedly terrible rainbow gradient on their logo and uniforms. In 2001, they ditched the word devil from their unis and the rainbow in their design and adopted green as their primary color with black and blue accents on the uniforms. In 2008, they made the final transformation from dumpster fire to respectability when they did a complete re-brand, changing everything from their primary colors to their secondary logos.
Then there’s the Diamondbacks. They started off on the wrong foot with their ‘90s-rific purple and teal logo on a cream home uniform. They stuck with that charade for about eight years when they decided to change their colors (hello red and black) and font but stayed with their block A. From there they introduced some snake-themed secondary logos (one in the shape of a D, and the other in the shape of DB / snake head). Then in 2016, they made a whole mess of things that I’m not even going to try and describe. All I know is they tried really hard and that’s about the only nice thing I can say.
Now that we’ve explored the three other recent expansion teams, we have more context for how little the Rockies have changed over the years. Ultimately, there were some alterations but if you read through the list below, you can see that the changes were minimal.
- In 1993 the Rockies wore these black jersey tops as an alternate uniform that included purple text with a silver lining. They ditched these duds and didn’t go back to a solid color alternate until 2000, when they adopted the purple shirt which they still use to this day.
- Speaking of alternate uniforms, in 2002 the Rockies introduced a home-specific alternate that used the CR logo as opposed to the “Rockies” text on the jersey plate. This alternate was tweaked in 2005 when they made the top a vest with a black undershirt, This look was eventually discontinued.
- The last alternate uniform the Rockies introduced was the black vest with a black undershirt. They still use this look today but what we don’t see are purple undershirts paired with the black vest. It’s a good thing those only lasted one season because they were not great.
- A somewhat significant set of adjustments were made to the road uniforms in the 2000 season. Their first road set was the standard road gray with “Rockies” featured on the jersey plate but starting in 2000 they swapped out Rockies for Colorado and added purple pinstripes. This lasted until the 2012 season when they ditched the pinstripes in favor of piping on the road grays.
- This wasn’t an official uniform set but back in 1999, MLB did a tacky “Turn Ahead the Clock” promotion where teams wore futuristic uniforms. The Rockies had the least offensive set that featured a giant mountain logo.
Between the four recent expansion franchises, the Rockies are the only team to stick with their original colors, wordmark and logos. Depending on your perspective, this could speak to the timeless nature of the Rockies design or it could mean they started with a very conservative look and are too scared to make any bold changes. It was a little easier for the Rays and D-backs to change their look because of how dated they looked after a few years.
This leaves the Rockies stuck in what we’ll call design purgatory. Their current look isn’t bad enough that they should be desperate to make a change (see 2001 Anaheim Angels) but it’s also not good enough to be considered a classic design that should stand the test of time (Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees, etc). A change could serve as a nice upgrade (it worked for the Rays) or it could lead to disaster.
Could the logo that was recently revealed on the media guide work as a new foundation? If you look closely the white mountain peak inside the diamond, it’s the same white mark used on the current mountain logo. So using that logo wouldn’t necessarily be a complete departure but it could be an initial minimalist approach that could grow into something different.
If the Rockies do decide to make some change, the one thing they should consider is sticking with purple. Not only does the color purple have a nice tie to the “purple mountains majesty“ line in America the Beautiful, but it sets the Rockies apart from every other team in the league. Seven teams can claim red as their primary color and 10 teams use navy blue, but the Rockies are the only team that wears purple. They should continue to wear it with pride.
So what do you think? Should the Rockies stick with their current design or should they shake it up? Let us know in the comments below — and if you are good with graphic design and want to give a visual look at your idea, use the FanPost feature. We’ll make sure it receives attention.