Seattle nails ‘Kraken’ team name and branding

The National Hockey League’s 32nd team might still have another season and change before they join the fold, but today, we got some clarity on who exactly they’ll be. The Seattle organization announced today that they’ll be referring to themselves as the Seattle Kraken, one of the most talked-about names amidst over a year of speculation.

The name itself, again, doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The “Metropolitans” name from the early 20th century was popular, but the NHL only owned its trademark in Canada, not the United States. The “Sockeyes” name was another one that was popular, but also had trademark concerns.

Instead, Kraken has become the choice, inspired by a legendary over-sized octopus in Scandinavian folklore. Does that sound like an odd choice for a team name? Maybe a little, if only because of geography. The idea of naming an NHL team after a folklore monster isn’t terribly unique – the New Jersey Devils are named after the “Jersey Devil” folklore, though that mythical beast was claimed to be a local one.

The Kraken name fits the bill here, though, in the sense that Seattle is a coastal city, and I’d assume a giant killer octopus could cross the oceans if he needed to. Plus, think of the rum cross-promotion the team can have!

Design wise, let’s start with the logos. I instantly love everything about them. The “S” serves to throw back to the Metropolitans, who also used a stylized S as their primary mark. The negative-space/accent-space tentacle is a subtle but important touch, the red eye adds just enough aggressiveness to the look, and it all has a distinctly gothic vibe that fits the era of the folklore.

The secondary logo is an anchor, which makes sense, but becomes infinitely cooler when you realize that the top tip is the Seattle Space Needle, akin to the Washington Capitals’ shoulder mark making reference to both the Capitol Building (negative space) and the Washington Monument (the blue just above).

Next, we get to the jersey, seen below. It keeps a lot of the same design language; including the creation of a contrast via the deep navy blue to give three different shades, and a minimal but effective use of the red from the eyes; enough to be a great accent, but not too much to take away from everything. The jersey finds a way to use simple, classic striping and traditional design cues, while looking distinctly modern.

With the use of Navy, Seattle also gets to keep its brand in sync with it’s other sports teams (Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders, Reign, and Thunderbirds to name a few) without leaning all the way in to the blue and green look, which wouldn’t mesh with a likely regional rivalry that the team will have with the Vancouver Canucks.

As with the Vegas Golden Knights, there is a heavy Adidas creative influence in the design of this branding, and just like Vegas, the result is excellent. It seems like they do a lot better work when given the ability to shape the brand. Rather than being asked to “reinvent”, while still keeping history, but also still not being a direct throwback (looking at you, Nashville, New Jersey, and Minnesota, and the alternates for Tampa, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Buffalo).

Hopefully, the good work and the deserved praise for this design leads to teams being more adventurous the next time they refresh their looks. Beyond that, the next step for Seattle will be to ice a good hockey team to wear these sweaters – that task is still a ways away.

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