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Rebranding the Raptors
Rebranding the Toronto Raptors
For starters, the Toronto Raptors' logo has never been one that's been considered a stroke of genius by any stretch of the imagination. In fact it commonly shows up on various "worst NBA logos" lists. The team's made numerous changes to it over the years, but the Dinosaur itself hardly has the same ring to it as Bulls or Warriors.
Could another change be made to remove the dinosaur completely from the equation?
Possibly, after all, numerous NBA teams have done major re-works to their logos the past few months, while others throughout NBA history have changed their names completely.
On top of this, the logo's popularity hasn't reflected well in terms of merchandise sales.
The Raptor didn't place in the top 10 regarding jersey sales last season according to NBA.com, and hasn't in quite some time. For a team that may be facing attendance issues whenever the next NBA season kicks off, a boost in revenue from other areas would probably be desirable.
To me though most importantly, we're talking about a club that has made the playoffs only five times in its history, and has never made it past the second round of the dance. It's the stigma of losing that's associated with the Raptor that needs to go, and sometimes if you can't make that change on the court (a 2011-12 season could be another extremely rough one for Dinos' fans), you do it off while you wait for the on-court stuff to kick in.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a great example of this.
The team fell on hard times performance wise during the final years of its tenure in Seattle, but soon found success after moving to Oklahoma City.
Obviously Kevin Durant and the management team there had a lot to do with this early success, but if you recall, the team's favourable rebranding efforts also helped the cause. Lately the team has looked to make another set of changes, even incorporating some of the Seattle Sonics' old attributes.
Other rebranding efforts like those of the Washington Wizards, who changed their name from the Washington Bullets prior to the 1997-98 season, have been met with mixed reviews however, so a name or image change is no slam dunk.
Therefore let's hear your thoughts.
Part I - Raptors
Rebranding the Toronto Raptors
In the second part of their series on rebranding the Toronto Raptors, the HQ notes the importance of putting substance behind a change in look and culture, citing corporate examples that went awry.
A winning percentage of .409 isn't much to brag about.
It's also hard to create much of a buzz around your team when year after year, you're winning less than half of the games you play.
Unfortunately, that's the reality for the Toronto Raptors' franchise.
Over their 16 years in existence, the team has lost 756 games and won only 524.
While there are some bright spots over that time period, particularly from 1999 to 2002 when the team won nearly 55% of its matches, the rest is pretty ugly.
Since the Raptors' inception in 1996, only three other NBA teams have had worse winning percentages.
The Charlotte Bobcats (.387 - although the club has only been around for seven years), the Los Angeles Clippers (.353) and the Memphis Grizzlies (.352).
Clubs that are often thought of as being more beleaguered such as the Minnesota Timberwolves, New jersey Nets and Sacramento Kings, best the Dinos in this area with winning percentages of .453 and .432 and .495 respectively.
It's an ugly stat and the sad thing is that it could get worse.
Around last Christmas, Yahoo Sports ranked the five worst NBA franchises of all time, and the Raps took the fifth spot. However clubs such as the Clippers and Grizz that ranked ahead of Toronto in "awfulness," both have brighter futures currently, thanks to names like Gay, Gasol, Randolph, Griffin and Gordon. Minnesota and Charlotte still seem to be floundering away, but Toronto hasn't exactly taken a huge step in the right direction personnel-wise to put serious ground between themselves and their possible lottery competition.
So why the history lesson?
When we talk about rebranding the Toronto Raptors, a huge part of a successful such endeavour comes down to the team's actual success on the court. It's great to change a team's entire look and feel, hoping to breathe new life into the organization, but if the team then goes out and wins 22 games the next season again, or wins even less, then the rebranding efforts may be akin to a raindrop falling in the ocean.
In the corporate world, we've seen tons of examples of this.
Radio Shack in the US rebranded, hoping a hipper look and title (The Shack) would help slumping sales.
Part II - The Importance of Winning - Raptors
Rebranding the Toronto Raptors
Rebranding the Toronto Raptors Part III - The Problem of Perception
The HQ looks at the importance of changing personnel to align with a new brand philosophy...
Years from now -- when it's routine to see him dropping three-pointers over the outstretched arms of clumsy, lumbering big men and SportsCenter regularly features him spinning on the block and posterizing clawing defenders, when his uncanny passes draw comparisons to those of Bill Walton and Chris Webber -- we'll point to a cold November morning in Denver as the NBA birth of Andrea Bargnani.
-Chris Broussard for ESPN the Magazine, Feb 28, 2007
Bargnani has played five seasons, including one in which he fell off a cliff (his second season) and this past year when he regressed in some significant areas. There is no threat of him leading a preschool class across the street, let alone an NBA franchise deep into the playoffs.
-Michael Grange for the Globe and Mail, April 14, 2011
It's been over five years since Andrea Bargnani was the selected as the first overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.
After his selection, I voiced some immediate concerns regarding his similarities in style to Chris Bosh, but also saw the upside, and viewed the selection as Bryan Colangelo "thinking outside the box."
In fact after Andrea's rookie season, I even wrote the following:
If Andrea had been healthy for an entire season perhaps we'd be watching a Raptors vs. Cavs series now...and an off-season of post work and strength training could see Toronto sporting two of the league's most dangerous young players.
He still needs to prove he can rebound in order to become a starter for Toronto next season but in terms of my expectations prior to this season, Il Mago surpassed all of mine.
However over the next four seasons, we saw very little development outside of scoring.
And in fact we saw almost nothing in terms of what Broussard described in his quote above.
Few and far between.
Low-post spins and posterizations?
Are you sure we're not talking about Blake Griffin here?
The reality is that Andrea hasn't turned into the player Broussard or many others, myself included, expected, and considering the vast majority of NBA players have completed the bulk of their development by year six, it's extremely unlikely we're going to see Bargs reach those heights.
So as we've discussed many a time, this leaves Toronto Raptors' management with a major dilemma.
Do they attempt to move Bargs? The $40M+ owing to him over the next four seasons makes that a tricky task, so the alternative may be to try and utilize his strengths while attempting to hide his major flaws.
But on a roster with very little other talent, this task may prove to be impossible, new coach and system or not.
During Andrea's five years as a Raptor, the team has racked up a record of 183 wins and 227 losses, resulting in a winning percentage of .4462. During most the bulk of those seasons, Bargnani had major help at both ends of the court but still struggled, especially in his second season.
Part III - The Problem of Perception - Raptors