The Class A Advanced minor league baseball team in Fort Myers, Florida, unveiled a new brand today that pays homage to sea life and healthy living. The erstwhile Fort Myers Miracle, a Minnesota Twins affiliate since the team moved from Miami to southwest Florida in 1992, will heretofore be the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels.
The new team name reflects several aspects of life in the rapidly growing tourist hotspot—and the inspiration for it was right under their noses.
“We knew we wanted to have something that represented the sea life and the lifestyle here,” said Andy Kaufmann, the team’s owner as of January of this year. “Just walking along Fort Myers Beach and spotting a mussel, we said, wait a minute, and it all clicked together.”
The new nickname is a tribute to the delicious, buttery seafood one finds along Florida’s southwest coast, but also its homophone, muscles.
“We loved this idea of the double meaning of mussels,” said Jason Klein of Brandiose, the firm that created the brand. “The idea that it was not only a celebration of aquatic life in Fort Myers, but it was also like, mussels with muscles!”
“The overall goal from the beginning with the overall tone was to be like Disney, but with edge,” Kaufman said. “Edgy Disney.”
It’s not just a lucky coincidence that Fort Myers’ brand is a muscle-bound crustacean. The physique of the character is part of the team’s larger ethic.
“We’re promoting fitness and family fun entertainment,” Klein said. “They’re going to do lots of healthy living fitness-related experiences at the ballpark. You’ll be able to jog the warning track. They’re all about healthy living, healthy lifestyle, Fort Myers Beach.”
In today’s climate of hot takes and gotcha bloggingism, I was obligated to ask some tough questions. It should be noted that this muscle-bound mussel will pass any test for performance-enhancing substances you want to throw his way.
“The guy works out,” Klein said. “We’ll leave it at that.”
The Mighty Mussels brand is unique in a few ways. First up is the color palette—the team is one of very few (and increasingly fewer in recent years) to feature purple. That element comes from the shifting colors you see when you hold a shell up to the sun.
“One of the things we started looking at was how mussel shells reflect light,” Klein said. “Often there’s smokey blues and silvers and lavender and purple, and we were like, wow, that would be a cool take.”
The Mighy Mussels’ color scheme includes another prominent color for more pragmatic reasons.
“We were locked into navy because that’s the Twins color,” Klein said, “and they play at the Twins’ spring training facility, navy is everywhere.”
Another unique element of the brand is its type, which Klein describes as “aquatic meets comic book.”
Speaking of comic books, the buff mussel, “Mussel Man,” will be featured in a 20-page graphic story that the team is creating in conjunction with Brandiose.
“It’s the story of a baby mussel who finds a magic bat, becomes a super hero, takes on the gym rats—the evil gym rats, of course—saves his family,” Kaufmann said. “You probably know where this is going.”
The comic book, a limited edition of 1,000, was distributed at the unveiling.
The new look is a dramatic shift from the beachy palm tree scene the team has featured in its brand since 1992. That peaceful tableau belies the team’s sometimes rocky past.
Baseball in the city began in 1926 with the Fort Myers Palms, which lasted only one year. In 1927, they moved and rebranded as the Miami Hustlers (which is the greatest name ever and should never have been changed). The Florida State League shut down midway through the 1928 season and the Hustlers disappeared with it.
The franchise would be reborn in the 1960s with the Miami Marlins (not *those* Miami Marlins—that’s a whole sordid tale fraught with lawsuits and recrimination), who became the Miami Orioles during the 1970s, then changed back to the Miami Marlins for most of the 1980s before being purchased in 1989 and renamed the Miami Miracle. That team would move to Fort Myers before the 1992 season.
In the end, rebranding as the Mighty Mussels is about giving the Fort Myers franchise its own identity rather than one it brought with it from Miami—and a name with more significance than mere alliteration.
“We really wanted a team that represented the local community, and had an attachment to the region, if you will,” Kaufmann said. “We weren’t sure the prior brand accomplished our goals going forward.”
Almost three decades after moving to Fort Myers, they’ll step to the plate in 2020 with their own unique brand when the Florida State League season begins in April.