In your opinion, what are the most creative cities in America? Did Fresno, California, make your list? What about Altoona, Pennsylvania? Or Frisco, Texas?
Perhaps they should have.
This past season, Minor League Baseball recorded its second consecutive year of record retail sales, due in large part to the innovative promotional tactics rolled out in tertiary and quaternary (that’s a real word, I swear) markets across the country. With baseball season having just ended, and the NBA, NFL, and NHL in full swing, below are some creative lessons we can all take away from baseball’s farm system.
Commit to the Bit.
If there’s any lesson to take away from Minor League Baseball’s peculiar landscape of in-game promotions, it’s that pushing an idea to its logical extremes can often lead to incredible results. From the Lowell Spinners’ “Political Correctness Night” (“…bases will not be identified as first, second or third, and will be treated equally without numerical ranking.”), to the Charleston Riverdog’s “Bullpenning Night” (“The Charleston front office will bring the hook all night long as they relieve their PA announcer, ushers, interns, concession staff, and more.”), minor league teams are experts at sticking to the bit.
Every idea can benefit from a little alliteration, even if it results in some absurd ideas (looking at you, “Salute to the Brannock Device Night”.)
When in Doubt, Look Local.
From names like the newly-christened Rocket City Trash Pandas (check out their visual identity!) to the Albuquerque Isotopes (taken from an episode of The Simpsons), minor league teams have perfected looking inward for inspiration. Some of the best ideas, humorous or otherwise, come from taking pride in what’s unique about you or your clients, and celebrating them creatively.
It’s a statement that holds true across industries, but representation matters, and can often result in innovative ideas. One particularly great example from Minor League Baseball is the Myrtle Beach Shorebirds’ Deaf Awareness Night, which included a signed interpretation of the national anthem, a silent third inning, and special jerseys where instead using letters, the team’s name was spelled out using ASL signs.
Our brands often reach wider audiences than we think, and showing a genuine appreciation for what makes unique is an easy way to show that you care.
One trend that’s caught fire over the last few minor league seasons is the one-night-only-rebrand, where teams temporarily abandon their brand identity for a brand new look. The Fresno Grizzlies, for example become the “Fresno Tacos” during their annual Taco Truck Throwdown, bringing with them a completely new logo, uniforms and commemorative merchandise.
We tend to think about brands as stiff, immovable pillars (and in many ways, they can be), but what better way to stretch your creative muscles, and breathe some life into your identity, with a quick rebrand?