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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Power (Hounds? Flow?) to the People

Since the announcement that Charlotte would field a Major League Lacrosse franchise starting in 2012, the people behind the team have been committed to involving potential fans in the creation of the team's identity. Primarily using social media, Charlotte MLL began the process by building community on Facebook and Twitter and engaging potential fans, collecting suggestions for team names, colors, and attributes that became more concrete over several weeks, culminating in yesterday's release of six concepts upon which fans can vote.

I first want to commend the folks at Charlotte MLL for truly crowdsourcing the creation of this team and making it a community event. The other new team joining in 2012, the Columbus-based Ohio Machine, went through no such effort, instead resurrecting a name from the now defunct Chicago franchise, resulting in a name that makes as much sense as the Utah Jazz or Los Angeles Lakers. As a lacrosse fan in NC who will likely be attending games once the new franchise is installed, this was a great first step to making this truly feel like my team. I engaged in the dialogue almost immediately, and while I had an idea or two that I brought to the table, I also heard quite a few very strong ideas that I began to really fall for. In all. I think the folks at Charlotte MLL scooped some of the most prominent (and most transferrable) to produce into prototypes upon which the public could vote. These are those concepts.

I'll give some overall thoughts on each of them and some potential insight into how they came about, having been around for those conversations.

Two (three?) of the selections reference Charlotte's fairly recent surge (pun intended) in the energy industry. The Charlotte Power and Charlotte Charge reference it directly, while the Charlotte Flow (which I'll talk a bit more about later) could be interpreted as energy flow. Both logos incorporate lightning imagery, with the Charge using the backdrop of a lacrosse stick head. I will note here that I'm typically biased against collective nouns as team names; it seems like Arena Football or WNBA territory to me.

The Charlotte Hounds are based on the state dog of North Carolina, the Plott Hound. As a proud UMBC Retriever, far be it for me to speak ill of a team that chooses to use the state dog as their mascot.

The Charlotte Legion speaks to the stadium, American Legion Memorial Stadium, where the team will play. In the imagery, they go with a military theme, which is most closely related to my original suggestion, the Carolina Crosshairs. Despite what I said about collective nouns, I think this one has some promise.

My personal favorite is the Charlotte Monarchs. While many have remarked that they would share their name with a former WNBA team, the connection is clear, with Charlotte being the Queen City. One of the ideas I became more enthralled with throughout the discussion was bringing in Charlotte/the Carolinas' Scots-Irish heritage, and this logo incorporates a touch of plaid for a nod at that. I will note that the shape of the crown used in the logo evokes another Charlotte area organization.

The Charlotte Flow are my personal least favorite. First of all, the logo looks like a beer label (not necessarily bad in and of itself). For those unfamiliar, the "flow" to which they refer is a lax bro term for the hair that flows from the back of one's helmet, and can be further expanded to the greater lax bro lifestyle. I just don't see this holding up beyond the lax bros themselves, and it looks as if Charlotte MLL has said the same, though it was a popular (polarizing, actually) choice. I think that one of many reasons that lacrosse isn't as big of a sport as it could be is that by and large, many who watch lacrosse are also those who play lacrosse, and I think that a new team, particularly in a non-hotbed area, needs to reach beyond that fanbase to draw in other fans.

But enough of my thoughts--get out there, check them out, and vote yourself!
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