Seattle’s Breanna Stewart (right) is embraces by Sue Bird after the Storm defeated Phoenix to in Game 5 of the WNBA’s semifinal series on Sept. 4, 2018 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle’s Breanna Stewart (right) is embraces by Sue Bird after the Storm defeated Phoenix to in Game 5 of the WNBA’s semifinal series on Sept. 4, 2018 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

WNBA rebrands, eyes next generation of fans

The league opens its 23rd season in late May, with the Seattle Storm as the reigning champions.

By Doug Feinberg

Associated Press

NEW YORK — The WNBA’s logo is getting a new look and the league is resetting its brand for the upcoming season.

The league unveiled its plans Monday, intent on embracing the optimism of the women across the WNBA in building the next generation of fans.

“We are excited about all of it,” WNBA chief operating officer Christy Hedgpeth said by phone last week. “It starts with our purpose, which is to expand our audience and grow at a faster rate.

“We believe we’ll do that by becoming more and more culturally relevant over time. It led us to a new target consumer, new design target that’s much, much younger — the 16-to-34 millennials, who are very diverse, very socially conscious, engaged in issues of today.”

The WNBA’s 23rd season begins May 24, with the Seattle Storm the defending champion.

The league partnered with Sylvain Labs, an innovation and brand design consultancy last year, to learn more about its existing fans and potential new fans. They developed a long-term growth strategy and identify new marketing opportunities.

“We’ve engaged very, very closely throughout this process,” Hedgpeth said. “Six months working with Sylvain Labs to develop what the new brand will stand for.”

The two groups, along with player input, came up with the league’s new logo.

“They took the silhouette out of the box which is a massive breakthrough as she was perceived totally different,” Hedgpeth said. “She was free, there was more movement there, taking up more space. She’s more athletic, longer physique. This is basketball on our terms. That was a phrase that really resonated with the players. That’s really symbolic in that regard.”

The new logo is different from others affiliated with the NBA.

“The NBA logo, there’s a rectangle around him, he’s in a box. Same with the G-League logo and the previous W-logo. She had a box around her,” Hedgpeth said. “The box is going away. It’s powerful, it’s freeing and it’s expansive.”

It’s the first time the league will have a new logo since 2013. While the new logo won’t be on the uniforms or balls until next year because of the lack of production time needed to do it, it will be everywhere else around the league.

Hedgpeth insisted that the logo wasn’t modeled after one player and that the hair was a huge part of the conversation. The logo has a bun which represents the way many players wear their hair.

The league also has a new marquee partner in AT&T.

“They are a perfect fit,” Hedgpeth said. “They have such a great fit to diversity and inclusion and accurately portraying women in advertising.”

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