The Seattle Kraken have logos, a colour scheme, and an arena nearing completion. Their non-player roster is slowly filling out with scouting, training and analyst hires being announced on a regular basis, and it won’t be long until they have a team ready to hit the ice. There is one piece yet to be announced that will be even more important to a certain segment of fans than the logo or jersey — the team’s mascot.
The mascot is a classic and vital part of any sports franchise and the National Hockey League is no exception. Beyond being a recognizable symbol bearing the team logo and colours, the mascot is a connection to the community, often representing something more than just a stuffed animal sold in the team store. Teams can always rebrand, but a marketing miss in this area during the initial team launch could be financially painful, so they want to get it right.
Division Rivals Have a Wide Range of Mascots
The NHL has quite a range of mascots, and in the Pacific Division, some are less connected to the team names than others. In Canada, the Calgary Flames have Harvey the Hound, the Edmonton Oilers have Hunter the Lynx, and the Vancouver Canucks are represented by Fin the Orca. The Californian teams have a Shark, a Duck, and a Lion, while the desert to the east hosts Howler for the Arizona Coyotes and Chance (get it?) the Gila Monster for the Vegas Golden Knights. All in all, they’re a wide range of characters, mainly aimed at the youngest fans, as a mascot should be.
So what direction should the Kraken take with their mascot? It needs to appeal to Seattleites, connect with their climate-conscious mission and values, and relate, at least vaguely, to the franchise name. A poll of the @krakencrew fan club gives us a couple options beyond the obvious tentacled ones:
- A Famous Pirate (Blackbeard, Davy Jones or Long John Silver)
- Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea (mixing mythologies here but it’s for kids)
- A salmon (referencing the allegedly second-place franchise name)
- Some sort of cappuccino-related monster that embraces Seattle’s coffee culture?
A Mascot is Only One Piece of a Marketing Plan
Nowadays, it’s about more than just picking a character that makes a good teddy bear. The savvy teams — and Seattle is surely looking like one up to this point — start with the mascot and build a marketing plan around that character. Take the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot for example. Gritty isn’t just some Sesame Street monster in a hockey helmet, he’s an idea. The insane antics of the orange-haired goon were a hit from the moment he uttered his famous first words on Twitter:
Some of Gritty’s rabid success could be attributed to luck — a zany marketing idea that hit the right chord — but the Flyers ran with it, and despite his never uttering a word in public, today Gritty’s personality is known by all. Seattle has a different persona than Philadelphia, and their mascot will no doubt reflect that. We can expect the mascot to be green or blue, and perhaps have red eyes, to match the “S” of the logo. Whatever it is will probably be well-dressed, maybe wearing a beanie and it’s sure to have exquisite taste in coffee.
Kraken Should Stick With Sea Monster Theme
Gritty has the right idea, but gets the details wrong in the tweet below. The perfect mascot for the Kraken would be a cephalopod, though not an octopus or squid, nor even a Kraken. There’s a similar Lovecraftian beast, known as Cthulhu, that might do the trick. Like the Kraken, this massive hybrid of human, octopus and dragon rises from the deep to capture its victims with tentacles and claws, and makes for a menacing spectre on a marketing video, but an adorable plushie in the team store.
After choosing the character, the next step for any good mascot is a fitting name. This label needs to tie it to the team, with puns and double meanings getting extra credit. If we look at Gritty once more, the name is synonymous with both the city of Philadelphia and the style of hockey their teams prefer to play. For Seattle, the word Cthulhu doesn’t roll off the tongue easily and is apt to be mispronounced, but what about “Wraparound?” The word has both a connection to hockey and the slippery appendages of our eight-tentacled friends.
This is just one writer’s idea and it may not be a perfect fit. Thinking back to how a mascot should tie to its community, it isn’t immediately obvious how choosing another sea monster connects to the Seattle franchise’s environmentally conscious focus, but a clever marketing mind could find that link. The Kraken’s marketing team has proven they’re on their game and perhaps they’ll come up with something even better. In the end, the mascot should be memorable and marketable, but more than anything else it needs to be fun.