On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced to the world that they plan to no longer feature the trademark, cartooned buccaneer/pirate figure as part of their logo offering moving forward, a move the Pirates have reasoned to “revitalize” the brand. It’s not a wholesale elimination, however, as the traditional logo will remain on the sleeve of the current jersey for the time being.
With this announcement, the Pirates have officially changed their primary logo to a gold “P” encased in black border (or a black “P” encased in gold border, depending on the jersey/hat color). What many people do not realize is that the “P” has been part of the Pirates’ uniform for many years now, but has seen increased usage over the last couple of years.
Pirates Nation seems to be a bit up-in-arms with this change — a sort of Who Moved My Cheese mentality — much the same way it responded to the pirate modernization efforts that were brought to the logo in 1997. People, for the most part, tend to shy away from change, relying on what’s known and what’s comfortable. The funny thing about this is that the new logo has been being phased in over the last couple of years, ultimately replacing the pirate-themed logo, albeit unofficially until now. No one seemed to even notice or care about the decreased usage until their attention was called to it by way of this announcement.
From a business standpoint, the Pirates did this the correct way. The difficult step has already been completed and the timing was perfect. The logo change happened prior to the Pirates’ success in the 2013 season, so all of the promotional materials and merchandising already prominently displayed the new branding. This allows for a minimized effect to the market and lessens the shock on the street, and the average Pirates fan didn’t even notice.
One can’t help but to speculate as to the driving force behind the change. As mentioned earlier, the Pirates front office only made mention to revitalizing the brand. Other teams like the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians have been receiving pressure from various activist groups over the last couple of years to change their names to something “less offensive.” It would be difficult to imagine an activist group in existence that would take offense to the Pirates name, but anything is possible in today’s society.
Vinny Gala is a Pittsburgh Pirates writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.