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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz

Critics look at the new logo and wonder if a child drew it.

In Milwaukee Buzz

The Admirals' new home jersey.

In Milwaukee Buzz

The Admirals' new road jersey.

In Milwaukee Buzz

The full-size version of the Admirals' logo.

Pirate treasure or trash? Admirals, designer Locher defend their new logo


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This seems to be the issue with the diehards -- the ones who DON'T use a skateboard as their major mode of transportation.

"A lot of the complaints have been related to the simplicity of the art style," Locher said. "But I happen to think an ornate logo is not the way to go - if you think about how a logo is seen and used by a team, the goal should be to capture the essence of the idea in as few strokes as possible. There is nothing wrong with simplicity."

Turer got the best of both worlds when he met with Locher through a mutual friend, and gauged his interest in taking on the redesign project. The owner wanted different, but he wanted clean and simple too. Locher delivered.

"I had someone else do designs, they tried very hard, but it just didn't click with me," Turer said. "I like how it was very clean-looking, very bold. I actually sat up in the suite level and watched some of our players with the jerseys on, and you can tell exactly what it is from a distance."

The youth movement is clearly the audience the Admirals are shooting for. Turer and Locher saw this as an opportunity to reach out to fans who may not even know the franchise exists. Even if it causes a stir in the camp of the older generation.

"Sometimes, the passion of a loyal fan base can blind people to the fact that a sports team is a business, and a business has to turn a profit," Locher said. "The fact is, the team has 1,500 or so loyal fans who go to all the games. That's not enough. The Admirals asked me if it was possible to push this brand to the point where it might possibly attract the attention of a new group -- to engage those of marginal interest, or maybe even those who have never been to a game. I think that's what's happening with this brand -- it's polarizing the fan base."

"Younger people tend to be trendsetters in our society," Turer said. "I want kids who may never come to a game to look at the logo and say "That's pretty cool.""

And apparently, there are plenty out there who think it is cool.

"In the first six days that the logo's been out, we sold more (merchandise) than all of last year," said Tim Van Wagoner, the Admirals director of marketing. "A whole cross section of fans and non-fans alike are buying the merchandise. If anything, though, I'd say it's trending toward younger demos."

Turer recently visited a golf course while sporting the new Admirals design. His caddy, a teenager, noticed the hat, liked it, and asked about the logo. But Turer had a question for the young man.

"Ever been to a game before?" he asked.

"No," was the reply.

"Would you wear a hat like this?"

"Yeah!"

"The goal is to have everyone be a fan, wear the merchandise, and be walking billboards for your team," Turer said. "I've already seen people walking around with this stuff, and it's pretty exciting."

And even though the cash register continues to ring at the Admirals souvenir shop, Locher continues to take just as much heat as the club that hired him. But like Turer, you have to have a thick skin when the backlash begins.

"It surprised me at first, but it makes a lot of sense if you understand the landscape," Locher said. "First of all, we set out to do a radical departure from the current uniforms. The 500 or so people who have been most vocally opposed wanted to keep the old uni's, so they were probably a given to be against whatever was done. It sure seems like there are a lot of people who like it. Someone's buying all that stuff. The unhappy ones are the ones who need to be heard in the blogs and chat rooms. . . maybe 800 people hate it and 8,000 love it -- but you're gonna hear from the 800. Hopefully, the 8,000 will vote with their checkbooks."

The Internet may be a great vehicle for the downtrodden to release their pent up logo frustration. But it has also turned the heads of fans all over the country. A sampling found sites like www.blogography.com where someone named "Jersey" goes on at length after ordering "the sweetest hockey jersey on the planet!" Jersey goes on to say the worst part is the seven week wait, because they are in such high demand, but it's worth it to him.

"Coolest. Logo. Ever."

And over at www.sportslogopundit.blogspot.com -- a site that lets fans chat away about logos in all walks of sports, Brandon set aside some cyberspace to praise the new look in Milwaukee.

"Has it drawn the ire (iiiiiirrrre) of The Sports Logo Pundit? Hell no, this logo is awesome! It's one of my absolute favorites that I have reviewed. But I love pirates, I love cartoons and I love the severed leg hockey stick," writes Brandon.

All this chatter, good or bad, is a plus for the Admirals. Turer got bonus buzz when he brought this new Admiral aboard.

"That's what I need out there, that creates a buzz about our organization. I hope down the road it creates more casual fans."

Perhaps the biggest fans, and the acid test for the new team jerseys, are the players themselves. Turer made sure that the guys in skates who would eventually sport the new look actually approved.

"All of our players saw them last year, during the playoffs," Turer said. "I brought both jerseys in, home and away, and I asked them, give me your honest opinion. I needed to know how guys in their early 20s view this, and all of them said "This is great. It's outside the box.""

Locher also urges detractors to check out the new jerseys with the names and numbers attached. Fans may be judging the finished product without the complete look in place.

"Someone e-mailed me about adding blue waves on the shirt, to "jazz it up," Locher said. "This is a completely different school of design than that. We don't want blue waves, yellow anchors, copper and red numbers... the whole thing vibrating like a neon sign. There are a few clean, bold elements that click together. When you see them on the ice, you'll get it."

Whether or not some fans ever get it, time will tell. But numbers don't lie...beginning with a 600 percent increase in merchandise sales in less than a week.

Simple sells.

But not everyone is sold, and even time may not heal that hurt. Some fans have actually complained on websites that they will be the laughing stock of the league. Joe Locher just laughs at those who think, they are being laughed at.

"When all the Packers fans started wearing Cheeseheads to the games, a lot of sophisticated Milwaukeeans were thinking, "Oh, great - now the rest of the country will just think we're a bunch of dopey cheese farmers," he said. "But, did we show this side of weakness and worry to Bears and Vikings fans? Of course not. We made every game a big party and won the Super Bowl.

"The ghost Admiral can be like that too -- go with it, and you'll see it's a lot more fun than a crusty old sea salt."

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Talkbacks

OMCreader | Sept. 27, 2006 at 11:09 a.m. (report)

Aaron M said: Our previous logo was much better and I wouldn't have minded so much if they took that logo and updated it with the new color scheme for this season. However, I am not in favor of the little skeleton boy, it's childish for being on a Hockey team's jersey, a sport that is anything but childish. Our jerseys last season canít be beat. The logo, the swords on the arm and the waves on the bottom and sleeves was the best jersey in AHL and even looked better then most NHL jerseys. If you want to use the skeleton for peewee hockey leagues, by all means, go ahead and promote that but give the true fans back the real Admiral. I just feel sorry for the designer of last seasonís jerseys and logos to know his or her concept was forsaken now for this little skeleton garbage.

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OMCreader | Sept. 1, 2006 at 12:42 p.m. (report)

Mike said: Typical Milwaukee reaction: too timid to step out. My God, it's a minor league hockey team. Sideshow is part of the sell. The national response to merch says it all. Bummer this city is so small-minded so often.

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OMCreader | Aug. 31, 2006 at 9:10 a.m. (report)

Catherine said: this logo makes me ashamed to be a designer in milwaukee. the designer of this logo says he adheres to the thinking of "simple is better." i agree to that statement, however, he has failed to execute that idea successfully.

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OMCreader | Aug. 30, 2006 at 3:41 p.m. (report)

TMvT said: So, the commentary I've read here from many appears cowardly, and right in line with much of Milwaukee's design commmunity as opposed to its hockey fan base. No surprise there. A bunch of wannabe's sitting behind their lighted boxes sucking on sweaty 64 oz. soft drinks, punching letters of "smart" hate onto their annonymous "I'm a designer" keyboards with a tangential agenda... Click. This logo was not designed for you. Yesmen appears to have used some forethought (here, I'll hep you folks out: fore-thought [noun] 1: a thinking or planning out in advance; 2: consideration for the future) in the implementation and promotion of this new design direction, and I commend them and the Admirals front office for being progressive and for thinking to the future for both the franchise and their fanbase. BTW, that future is out riding their skateboards for the last couple of days before heading back to school. I suppose all of you who were happy as pie with the MSU Spartan/NE Patriots mindnumbing, forgetable offering are just now poking your heads out from the latest Communication Arts mag for your next design rip off... hoo-RAHHH! for originality and thought provoking design in Milwaukee, and for some solid, effectual marketing direction by Mr. Locker for a fabulous local client in the Milwaukee Admirals. Hey, maybe you should try going to a game....

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OMCreader | Aug. 23, 2006 at 3:01 p.m. (report)

Missy said: Argh!

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