Ever since its announcement last month, fans and Charlotteans alike have been excited about the new Charlotte Hornets NBA team. What was once the Charlotte Bobcats has been reinstated and rebranded as the beloved Charlotte Hornets, and basketball fans can’t get enough. Some might say nothing crucial about the team has changed. No new players, no new coach, no new owner. The only new aspects might seem superficial: A new name. A new mascot. New colors. But for Charlotte basketball fans, these changes make all the difference in the world. The buzz is in the brand.
The previous Charlotte basketball brand, the Bobcats, has not been doing well since its inception 9 seasons ago. The team only made the NBA playoffs once, and game attendance has been at its lowest. When owner Michael Jordan announced the name change during half-time of a game against the Utah Jazz, the internet was already abuzz with anticipation. The re-branding includes a new logo and colors; a fiercer looking hornet with updated versions of the forever popular teal and purple. In addition, Hugo the hornet will once again grace the court as Charlotte’s beloved mascot. To supplement the change, the NBA has launched a “Paint the City” marketing campaign making use of hashtags such as #purpleandteal and #buzzcity.
Charlotte Basketball fans have been wanting this change for a long time. Not only are there countless Facebook and Twitter groups promoting the Charlotte Hornets, there is even a website catered to convincing fans why the Hornets should be Charlotte’s NBA team. The site, Bringbackthebuzz.com, has over 8500 followers on Twitter, and has even created a petition to bring the Hornets back. With over 11,000 signatures, it seems like the fans are finally getting what they want. “I grew up on these Hornets, they represent my youth and the pride I have in my hometown!” commented one fan. Referencing the historical relevance of the Hornets name, another fan comments, “A name which is an integral part of the history and fabric of Charlotte should be returned to its rightful home!” According to a recent Charlotte Observer poll, a whopping 89 percent of people like new Charlotte Hornets logo. Whether for pride, historical relevance, or childhood memories, Many Charlotteans feel a connection to the Hornets.
And like the fans, the numbers are talking as well. In just changing the name and logo, the new team has already garnered two new sponsors: Mercedes-Benz and McDonalds. Ticket sales have already increased for the remaining games of the Bobcat’s Season. And merchandise sales are sure to grow as manufacturers roll out souvenirs with the updated colors and logo.
So what’s in a name? For the new Charlotte Hornets, everything. By listening to fans and playing into nostalgia and hometown pride, the NBA and all involved have definitely made a good business move. Just by re-branding, the team will surely see an increase in fandom, support, and ticket sales. The new Hornets might be the same old basketball team, but at least now all of Charlotte will be cheering them on.
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