The Highline Bears, a Seattle-based team in the collegiate summer Pacific International League, unveiled two brands today, one of which the team will adopt next year. Fans will vote to determine whether the Highline Bears will become the Dub Sea Fish Sticks or the Dub Sea Seal Slingers.
The team’s general manager Justin Moser attributes the unusual method of determining the team’s identity to the guys from Brandiose, who developed the marks.
“Jason [Klein] and Casey [White] came up with a strategy that they had thought of before,” Moser said, “to kind of having this boxing match, one on one, between two rival brands.”
One goal of the rebrand, according to Moser, is to undo some of the shortsighted decisions the team made in establishing the nickname Bears, which Moser admits is not inspiring.
“When we started the Highline Bears, we really had no idea what we were doing. Coming up with a name was just like, oh, we need a name,” he said. “I think the biggest lie we all believe when we go out and pursue things to get people’s attention is, if you build it they will come. It’s just not true. You could build something amazing but if you’re not able to get people’s attention or make people aware of it then people don’t come.”
The two options the team presented today are decidedly unique, and speak to the fun atmosphere the team wants to engender. The team asked itself one important question when it started the process of rebranding: “How can we put on a circus with baseball center stage?”
Whichever brand they choose, the geographic signifier will be Dub Sea—which is a colloquial abbreviation for either West Seattle or White Center, the Seattle neighborhood where the team plays. Dub Sea will replace the current geographic signifier, Highline, which caused some confusion with a school district and college using the name.
The first option, Dub Sea Fish Sticks, is an homage to the local fishing industry in nearby Puget Sound, which is just four miles from the team’s stadium, but with a twist.
“We had a ton of kids put in entries, so that inspired Fish Sticks,” Moser said. (It’s worth noting that fish sticks are likely a staple in the diet of collegiate summer level ballplayers as well.)
The character, who is not yet named because, according to Moser, they don’t want to get attached, is swinging a French fry baseball bat, and more importantly, is finishing a smooth left-handed swing while wearing a backwards baseball cap.
“The hat is backwards and that’s a little bit of nod to the greatest swing ever to come out of Seattle and all of Major League Baseball,” Moser said, “and that is Ken Griffey, Jr., himself.”
The second identity up for voting, Seal Slingers, appears at first to be a cartoon recreation of one of nature’s most horrifying scenes—an orca flinging a seal in the air, which scientists suggest they do to disable their prey, to loosen their skin (because they don’t eat the skin), or just for fun.
Many of the more than 200 name suggestions in the initial name the team contest suggested some version of orca or killer whales, but they team wanted to figure out a creative way to incorporate them into a brand.
“We were looking for something a little bit different, and Seal Slingers came up,” Moser said. “Everyone loved how it rolled off the tongue, but the first pushback was, whoa that’s a little gruesome, that’s a little violent.”
One of the team owners came up with an interpretation of the name that made it less terrifying and more palatable, especially to the families and kids the team hopes to attract: The orca and seal could have a Tom & Jerry-style relationship, and are working together as unlikely, odd-couple buddies.
Fans will have the opportunity to vote in the traditional style, through online voting at RenameOurTeam.com, but the team will also consider pre-orders on merchandise sales in the vote tallies.