The franchise that once served as the poster child for minor league baseball’s era of outrageous logos today unveiled a classic-feeling new brand that it hopes will set a new standard going forward. The erstwhile New Orleans Baby Cakes, whose creepy baby tenure lasted a mere three seasons, launched their next phase as the Wichita Wind Surge with an identity created by Todd Radom. The brand, notable for its serious approach in a minor league baseball branding landscape defined by wackiness, pays homage to Wichita’s heritage and highlights the city’s bright future.
“We wanted to find a brand that was going to encompass the past, because we think it’s important that we always honor where you came from,” said Bob Moullette, the team’s vice president and assistant general manager, “but we also understand that we’re at a very pivotal time in Wichita’s history where we are, essentially, with this community, surging forward.”
The identity centers around Pegasus, the mythical winged horse from Greek mythology.
“We knew right out of the chute that we didn’t want to do something that was reflective of your stereotypical visions of Wichita—so in other words, Wranglers, Old West, things like that,” Radom said, referencing the Double-A Wichita Wranglers, who played from 1989 to 2007. “The nice thing about Pegasus, however, to me, was the fact that it’s got a horse in there, so it is sort of a distant homage to the Wranglers and what had come before. Pegasus is such a wonderful, aspirational, soaring thing.”
The fact that Wichita’s new team is taking flight is no accident. The city is known as the Air Capital of the World, and is home to Textron Aviation, Learjet, Airbus, and Spirit AeroSystems, as well as the McConnell Air Force Base.
“About every 50 years, Wichita reinvents itself,” Moullette said. “We’re at the point where in the last 150 years, you went from the Chisholm Trail to aviation … and now they’re developing the downtown. We’re at that point where things are exponentially surging forward for the community.”
The “Wind” part of the team’s name derives from the various ways that element has shaped Wichita, from the wind wagons that carried goods along the Chisholm Trail during the Kansas Territorial Period in the late 1800s to wind-based transit along the Arkansas River to the obvious use of wind in aviation today.
The “Surge” part of the name comes from Wichita’s increasingly prominent place in Kansas and the country at large.
“Wichita is the biggest city in the state of Kansas, it’s kind of a regional powerhouse,” Radom said, “so they wanted a look with a little bit more of a classic feel. We were going to look for something that would represent the team for the long term.”
When the team charged Radom with the task of developing a brand, they indicated that they wanted it to have a Major League feeling. The team’s owner Lou Schwechheimer provided a list of terms that it should evoke, including: fierce, surging, bold, moving, driven, soaring, and aspirational.
“We wanted to make sure, with a $75 million stadium that we got the city of Wichita to build, we felt like we owed them the best that we could give them with a professional team,” Moullette said.
The color palette of navy blue, red, and yellow, is rooted in the visual vernacular of baseball, but it also derives from Wichita’s city flag, which Radom describes as “one of the coolest flags in the United States of any municipality.” A logo based on that flag has been acting as the team’s placeholderin advance of today’s unveiling, and going forward will serve as a sleeve patch and alternate cap logo.
In approaching the type, the team knew what it wanted, and what it wanted to avoid: “With the letterforms, the conversation was always going to veer toward something progressive looking, not serif, not based in tradition,” Radom said. “We didn’t look at scripts, anything like that.”
An alternate logo features a stylized wing, which evokes the airline industry and is appropriate to the style of the buildings found in Wichita, but also allowed Radom to include just a wing in a logo without making it look like he was disassembling Pegasus.
“Here was an opportunity to distill down a shorthand version of that, which I think can be a very useful thing,” he said. “And again, it plays into the streamlined nature of the architecture, the kind of art deco look around there.”
The entire brand features the letter W prominently, which presented both challenges and opportunities.
“When we talk about symmetry, and we think about the W in Wichita, it really served a great device to pin the whole thing down,” Radom said.
According to Radom, crafting this identity was about more than designing a brand for a baseball team. The Wind Surge will play in a new stadium that will be the centerpiece of Wichita’s riverfront development project. Radom consulted with architects and signage designers to be sure that there would be consistency.
“The new ballpark, which looks gorgeous, is really knitted into this district, and into the cityscape,” he said. “When you think holistically about the brand of the club, the look of the thing, it’s going to extend to the ballpark, the aesthetics of that, and bleed into the streetscape.”
The Wind Surge will take the field in their new ballpark—the “front porch of the Wichita community,” per Moullette—when the Pacific Coast League opens play in April.