'Guardians' name, design built on Cleveland community, tradition, continuity
As Cleveland's baseball franchise, which announced Friday it will change the team name to Guardians after the 2021 season, sought feedback from fans, a few main goals came to the forefront.
Among them were a sense of community, tradition and, especially in terms of the uniform designs, continuity. All of it played key roles in not just the team selecting the new name of Guardians but the new designs as well.
Cleveland unveiled all of it at a news conference at Progressive Field, which will be undergoing some heavy renovations once the season is finished.
A Diamond C logo will replace the Block C. A Guardians Fastball emblem will be a second, new logo. The script-style lettering across the uniforms remains but has been altered to reflect the Guardians figures on the Hope Memorial Bridge that played a role in inspiring the name. And the team's color scheme will stay the same through the name change. That continuity ended up as a key part to the upcoming redesign.
"These colors have been a part of our organization for 80 years," said Brian Barren, president of business operations. "We heard from fans that it was important to maintain the red, white and navy to honor our Major League Baseball history in Cleveland. ... The script style has been a part of our branding for the last 75 years.
"Finally, our uniforms will be another area of continuity. We will wear script Guardians word mark on red and white home uniforms and we will continue to wear Cleveland on our gray and navy uniforms featuring our new bridge print font."
The team has said more than 40,000 fans were polled throughout the process, along with community leaders and front office personnel. In the beginning, 1,198 potential names were generated, a list that eventually ended with the Guardians. It is known that Spiders and Buckeyes were at least heavily considered, but it isn't clear just how close they were to beating out Guardians.
"Through all of our research, three key themes emerged," Barren said. "We believe Guardians reflect all three of these insights that were most important to our fans. The first one was to connect the city of Cleveland in a genuine and authentic way. Second, honor our rich Major League Baseball history here in Cleveland. And, finally, unite our community."
The new Diamond C logo "stands tall just as the Guardians of Traffic stand watch over our ballpark and city," according to a release explaining some of the thought that went into the designs. The "weight" of the C is "bold and tapered" as a nod to letter forms from Cleveland's 1920 and 1948 World Series teams.
The "Guardians Fastball" logo is inspired by the helmets and wings of the Hope Memorial Bridge's Guardian statues.
“So often ... when we spoke to fans, it was about, ‘Tell us about things that are important to you,’ before we got into specific brand names," Barren said. "So, that’s where things like loyalty, resiliency, pride in being from Cleveland became things that were important to fans, and we started to factor those things into the consideration set to say, ‘Which of these potential brands actual reflect those attributes that fans are playing back to us as things that are important to them?"
The team has stated throughout the process how a change needed to happen to unite the community in a more positive way. On top of accomplishing that goal in changing the name not long after the Chief Wahoo logo was removed from uniforms and the field view prior to the 2019 season, the team also maintained a sense of that continuity by keeping many of the general uniform designs that were familiar to Cleveland fans.
And as owner Paul Dolan said Friday, the memories of what happened when the team was the Indians won't be erased.
"I’m 63 years old, and they’ve been the Indians since I was aware of them, probably 4 or 5 years old, so it will take a long time," Dolan said. "But we’re not asking anybody to give up their memories or the history of the franchise that will always be there, and for people my age and older, most our life is going to be living as an Indian and not as a Guardian.”
Speaking of continuity, Dolan also reiterated Friday he's confident a deal will be completed to extend the team's lease with Cleveland and Progressive Field. And, if it is, it'll now be as the Guardians.
“Everyone in the process is working toward a new lease, and I think everyone is optimistic that we’ll get that done," Dolan said. “It’s a complicated process that has a lot of players involved and everyone is working in the right direction.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Indians at www.beaconjournal.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.