Posted January 25, 2013

New Orleans Pelicans announce name change from Hornets, unveil logo

Ben Golliver, New Orleans Hornets, New Orleans Pelicans, Tom Benson
The new logo for the New Orleans Pelicans. (NBA.com)

The new logo for the New Orleans Pelicans. (NBA.com)

By Ben Golliver

Pelicans it is.

The New Orleans Hornets officially announced the adoption of the “Pelicans” nickname on Thursday.

The nickname switch, first reported in December, will occur after the 2012-13 season. The change will be accompanied by a red, blue and gold color scheme that will replace the current teal, purple and blue design. New jersey designs will be released “in the coming months,” according to a team press release.

Louisiana is known as the “Pelican State.” The brown pelican is the state bird and it adorns both the state flag and state seal. New Orleans also had a Double A minor league baseball known as the Pelicans for more than 70 years.

“It was very important to me and our staff that we change the name of this club to something that represented New Orleans, Louisiana,” owner Tom Benson said in a promotional video. “We worked on it. It wasn’t something that just came out of the blue, overnight. We worked on it for a long period of time. You just can’t have a better name for Louisiana and New Orleans than the Pelican. It’s the perfect representative.”

The Pelicans name beat out more than 100 other possible monikers during a lengthy brainstorming process.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was pleased with the selection.

“I’m pumped up about the Pelicans,” he said during a news conference Thursday.

Team broadcaster Joel Meyers suggested that fans will chant “Let’s go Pels!” to root on the squad next season.

The Hornets name came with the franchise when former owner George Shinn relocated the team to New Orleans in 2002 after 14 years in Charlotte. Shinn then sold the Hornets to the NBA in 2010. When Benson purchased the team from the NBA in April 2012, he expressed a desire to find a name that better reflected the city of New Orleans. 

A New Orleans Pelicans t-shirt design. (NBA.com)

A New Orleans Pelicans t-shirt design. (NBA.com)

Team executive Rita Benson LeBlanc elaborated on the importance of the pelican as a local image.

“There are two symbols you see everywhere in New Orleans or Louisiana, that is the fleur de lis and the pelican,” she said. “It’s an aggressive, beautiful, swift bird. It’s truly been an inspiration for us to find something that epitomizes everything that is powerful, aggressive and historic to our community.”

The pelican has been on the endangered species list and thousands of the birds were killed during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Images of the oil-soaked birds served as a symbol of the environmental damage caused by the 2010 disaster.

“[The pelican] is a symbol of the state,” Benson said. “It’s a symbol of our resolve, to come back. We’ve done it, that’s what’s great.”

The franchise’s new logo incorporates the fleur de lis, which is also associated with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, also owned by Benson. The logo includes the words “New Orleans” and “Pelicans” in all capitals and white lettering. The pelican’s distinctive beak is red and reaches over a blue basketball while a simple wing design, in gold, flanks the ball on both sides. The background of the logo is dark blue and red.

Alternate logos for the New Orleans Pelicans. (NBA.com)

Alternate logos for the New Orleans Pelicans. (NBA.com)

LeBlanc explained the thinking behind the new color scheme.

“[The red]  inspires the passion, the blue is loyalty and the gold is the gleam of championships that we hope to bring to our state,” she said.

Graphic Designer Rodney Richardson explained the work behind the logo to Hornets.com.

“Our desire was to bring out the characteristics of the pelican that have caused it to stand as a symbol for this city and region,” he said. “The focus, beauty and strength it displays when it dives from the air into the water for its food – we wanted to capture that strength and focus. And as it represents new life, survival and resourcefulness, NEW ORLEANS rests on its wings. References to the style, flourish and heritage of the city are subtly ingrained in the mark.”

Richardson also designed a number of alternate logos: one that merges the pelican image with the fleur de lis, one based on New Orleans’ “Crescent City” nickname, and one with the “NOLA” abbreviation.

In December, the NBA’s attorney filed trademarks on five potential team names (Pelicans, Rougarou, Mosquitos, Swamp Dogs and Bullsharks), but the preference for the Pelicans moniker was widely reported.

65 comments
G6
G6

I thinks it's funny how they tried to make the pelican look angry. hahaha

G6
G6

Fierce!

KevinM.Jessup
KevinM.Jessup

Or Utah should give the Jazz name back and change their name to the Utah Summits. I guess that just makes too much sense.

KevinM.Jessup
KevinM.Jessup

This is the worst name in history. Sometimes all you need to do is give something the ole eyeball test or in this case the ole hearing test. It sounds horrible, there's nothing about it that resonates with New Oreleans. So what that its the state bird, who knew and who cares. Pelicans are incredibly adaptable and live on every continent except Antarctica so anybody can claim them. The Pelicans? This is REALLY THE BEST THEY COULD COME UP WITH? I hate singular team names like Thunder and Heat but I'd even go for the New Orleans Humidity or some other meteorological term before Pelicans. It sounds straight up ridiculous. But seriously...the name they should've come up w/ given how many people in the region make a living on or around the water from the fishermen and shrimpers to the merchant marines and oil rig workers is the Marines. It doesn't just mean a branch of our military it means having to do or related to the sea and it rhymes. The New Orleans Marines and it sounds bada$$. All a Pelican can do is take a major crap on your car.

m.guszak
m.guszak

The insanity of a team called the Jazz existing in Utah while the city of New Orleans uses Pelicans is insane. The league should have forced Utah to sell the name back to New Orleans. And why in the heck didn't Utah change their name when they got them from New Orleans? It is not like they were trying to reap the benefit of the great tradition of Jazz basketball. How about the Utah Polygamists or S.L.C. Saints? That being said, new logo and name are both weak.

DougEconomou
DougEconomou

How about naming them the "Crescent City Pelicans"?

 

Rolls of the tongue better, PLUS you get to incorporate two (2) New Orleans identities into one team name. It works for Golden State. Why not do something different?

Ryan9
Ryan9

Just swapping the dull gold with something more bright and colorful is a huge improvement.  How about lime green?

Rob34
Rob34

Gotta love the "mean" look on that Pelican's face! U scared, now?!?

modsuperstar
modsuperstar

The part that gets me about the logo is why did they pick a colour scheme to similar to the Cleveland Cavaliers? Why not embrace those Mardi Gras colours of purple, green, yellow and red? Those are colours associates with New Orleans. I think they wanted to be so safe after having to deal with the teal, purple and gold for years that they instead just created something pretty blah. I think teams are spending so much time trying to almost homogenize their looks so that free agents will view them as a cool place to play that they're forgetting that NBA jerseys have always had some playfulness to them.

modsuperstar
modsuperstar

People ragging on the idea of the team nickname being the Pels, is it any worse than the Pats? Bucs? Habs? Buds? Oil? Nucks? Yanks? BoSox? Dbacks? Bolts? Canes? All of those are pretty horrible nicknames when you think about it, but the fact they're used by every sport show to refer to the teams just makes it commonplace and nobody even raises an eyebrow to any of those. Pels will be just fine.

Iowa
Iowa

What a bad logo. The people who create these things nowadays have absolutely no soul. Just use navy blue, ugly gold and ugly red and you've cooked up a logo. Ugly.

stagger
stagger

Hornets are pretty universal. It's not like we don't have them in Louisiana. Why the change? It's not like Jazz in Utah. Pelicans. Christ....

stagger
stagger

Jesus. The only think worse than Pelicans are the fans chanting “Let’s go Pels!”. Please don't do this.

DavidFaunce
DavidFaunce

Logo is cool but the name is stupid. A pelican is a large worthless bird that craps on people at the coast. 

NeoSmith
NeoSmith

What a stupid looking logo.  Might as well be the N.O. Sardines.

IanM.Servicee
IanM.Servicee

In the words of Tony Montana  "Come Here pelican, pelican, pelican".

StevenKeys
StevenKeys

First an angry dolphin (Miami), now an angry pelican.  What is it with you people?  It's a pelican, Rod!  At least it doesn't have fangs, not yet anyway.

 

And those colors, they work together about as well as this Lakers' roster.  Just kidding, Kobe...about the roster.  Be patient.

GoodBlessing
GoodBlessing

Won't take long until they're called the Pelican'ts or the Garbagecans.....

SteveRosset
SteveRosset

Well, I guess all the good names are already taken.  Might as well aim for the comic market.

dayton52
dayton52

I'm from Louisville, named after King Louis the 16th of France, and the Fleur-de-lis is our logo. You go sister city, and you name anything you want what ever you want, because you can. Love you NOLA, Go Pelicans. 

proprietist
proprietist

It's not that hard.

 

Charlotte Hornets

Utah Bobcats

New Orleans Jazz

milos_djkc
milos_djkc

High risk to be acknowlege as the Pelican't in memory of the Aints

stashu
stashu

It'll be shortened to the Birds.  Nobody like the three-syllable nicknames.  Just like the Timberwolves are the Wolves, the Pelicans will be the Birds.

modsuperstar
modsuperstar

 @m.guszak Everyone craps on the Jazz for not relinquishing the name, yet nobody seems to mention the team from the land of many lakes, Los Angeles. Everyone is used to the Lakers because of all the success they've had, but really, they're just as bad as the Jazz for not rebranding.

KevinM.Jessup
KevinM.Jessup

 @DougEconomou Golden State is in reference to California as a whole not the bay area in particular and I don't know what Warriors has to do w/ Oakland or SF but it at least sounds good. This name they came up w/ would be like Golden State changing their name to the grapes just b/c they make wine in the region but it hardly sounds the least big like what a team name should be. If you want to name your restaurant in New Orleans the Pelican b/c its the state bird, I get it, but a basketball team name? C'mon man.

BruceK
BruceK

 @stagger :

 So chant the last part instead! "Let's go CANS!"

Azeron
Azeron

 @proprietist Pelicans name (unfortunately) is here to stay.  However, let's push for Memphis and Utah to switch names.  

 

Utah Grizzlies

 

Memphis Jazz

 

What say you all?

proprietist
proprietist

I also like the New Orleans Voodoo, but that might be a bit politically incorrect?

Iowa
Iowa

 @logofan47 Not bad, little too space-agey. Soften it up a bit so it doesn't look like it was created by R2D2 and it would be good. And there's no need to include an entire team name in every logo. If a logo is original enough and easy to identify with a team, all you need is the logo itself. See: GB Packers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Yankees, Chicago Bears, etc.

 

DoubleOhMark
DoubleOhMark

 @logofan47 All of those on that link are superb, as SOB before me said, how they've gone with the design they have is beyond me, it's awful!

Iowa
Iowa

 @stashu That's just the ESPN culture. The same people who think every individual's nickname should be the first letter of their first name and the first syllable of their last name...nothing wrong with Pelicans.

 

m.guszak
m.guszak

 @modsuperstar Yes, but the Minneapolis Lakers were a dynasty, the name had value. The New Orleans Jazz name had no value and no winning connotations. Utah should have gone in a new direction and established their own identity.

stagger
stagger

@modsuperstar @m.guszak While there would certainly be better names for LA, it's not as absurd as the Utah Jazz. At least there are little bodies of water around the LA area. There is NO jazz being played in Utah...

stagger
stagger

@KevinM.Jessup @DougEconomou GS was another of the teams that kept the name when they relocated. They were the Philadelphia Warriors. But Warriors is a good generic name, so it's not bad.

stagger
stagger

 @BruceK Only when the dancers are on the floor in timeouts.

 

stagger
stagger

@m.guszak @Rob34 I agree!