Minor design tweaks lead to major results
Minor league sports are all about creativity. It’s hard to be stodgy when your graphic design teams get to work with mascots like the RockHounds, Iron Pigs and RubberDucks.
There’s also the matter of necessity. Minor league teams don’t have the money or star power of top-tier teams. Even when they do have a talented player as their draw, they can’t build much around him: the nature of the business means that he’ll be called up before too long, sometimes on a day’s notice.
Small market teams, minor league teams and colleges outside of the Power Five need their brand to stand on its own. A season of success on the field will only take them so far. Teams outside the big leagues thrive because of what they do and what they represent off the field. Basic elements like logos, colors and marketing collateral must be instantly recognizable and in touch with their community (fun fact: the RockHounds, Iron Pigs and RubberDucks have nothing to do with dogs, swine or water fowl, respectively).
Minor league teams put in the work to look this chill
Small market teams have been threading a difficult needle for the last decade: they’ve embraced the kitsch, and even the occasional gimmick, but they have to do it in a way that doesn’t come off as amateur. They have to take their job seriously enough to look like they don’t take themselves very seriously.
When it comes to graphic design, this means smartly executed brands and collateral built around the fun laid-back name and logo. Digital and print graphics have to project a free-wheeling brand across all platforms, being consistent without coming off as corporate.
At the same time, they need to have just enough corporate appeal to satisfy the parent clubs, trustees, board members or other overseers. Teams can satisfy this need through the quality and professionalism of the work, and by staying up to date on what the big players are doing that can scale down to the farm teams.
Small market teams rely heavily on physical marketing assets
Because minor league teams draw their fan base exclusively from the local area, they have to saturate their communities with their presence. Billboards, in-store displays, year-round community-facing events and sponsor tie-ins are important for any sports team, but are crucial for local markets because they create immediate touch points.
It’s a good add-on for a major league team to have a booth at the city’s half-marathon expo or “taste of” weekend. A minor league team, on the other hand, could generate a noticeable spike in engagement and ticket sales by having staff and players wearing event-specific t-shirts at those events while handing out promo cards and taking selfies with fans.
Every aspect of that interaction – the visuals at the booth, the t-shirts the team personnel are wearing, the promo cards, the social media filters – need to be integrated and, better yet, customized for the event. Teams can’t afford to have one all-purpose t-shirt or promo card – people will quickly stop noticing them. Worse, they may look like they are phoning it in. The physical assets should reflect whatever external event (the race expo, corporate wellness fair, etc) they are supporting. This maintains attention, and adds value to the partnership for both sides.
Integrated graphic design and production services for minor league teams
WW&L provides full service graphic design and production. From logo creation or rebranding to producing digital artwork and physical collateral – from souvenir tickets and flyers to NFT-backed collectibles and NFC-enabled packaging – WW&L can handle any marketing design project.
By doing everything in-house, WW&L keeps the process efficient and costs low. Our graphic designers can provide 1-2 day turnaround on most requests, and they work alongside the production team so there’s never a delay caused by a mismatch or misunderstanding of requirements. We can also work with you on your marketing strategy, recommending the best design concepts, assets and distribution methods for your needs.
Even with these capabilities, we are still a small shop in a small town (Ft. Smith, baby!). We understand the unique situation of small market and minor league teams. In our 100+ years, we’ve seen six minor league baseball teams come and go – a few were even before our time. We’d like to have one come back (any takers?). But until then, we want to make your team, our team.
Drop us a line today to see how our graphic design services can help you put fans in the seats.
Oh, and if you’ve made it this far and are still wondering: a RockHound is a geologist, which makes sense for the oil fields of Midland, TX. Lehigh Valley (PA) was a center of the steel industry, which used a lot of – wait for it – pig iron. And Akron, OH, is the home of Goodyear, so, obviously, RubberDucks.