Although the Kraken don’t yet have a team to win awards on the ice, they’ve already started gaining accolades off the ice. This afternoon, the Sports Business Journal named the Seattle Kraken as “Best New Brand of 2020” as part of their annual Year End Awards.
The award is all the more impressive given the recent brand association difficulties the team has faced through no fault of its own. Since the 2020 presidential election, the word Kraken and phrase “Release the Kraken” have been co-opted by President Trump’s legal team and supporters over voter fraud conspiracy claims. Kraken fans may have recently been surprised to find that “Kraken” was trending nationally on Twitter, only to find that it had nothing to do with their new hockey team. Regardless of context, the word Kraken has piqued many people’s interest this year.
Last month, Merriam-Webster named Kraken as one of its finalists for Word Of The Year, saying it was the fifth-most searched word of 2020. The word’s popularity in both contexts highlights an important task at hand for the Seattle Kraken. As a proudly progressive organization, the Kraken will undoubtedly want to distance themselves and the Kraken brand from the word’s political usage as much as possible. Maintaining ownership of the word will be an important objective in the year ahead.
Despite the external challenges they’ve faced, the team has done everything within their control superbly. Whenever there’s been a notable event or milestone, the social media team has been thoroughly prepared and deliberate with all the content they’ve released. When the Kraken unveiled their name in July, they had six hours of live video content prepared for the occasion. The livestream explained the logo, branding, and symbolism behind the team name. It also delved into Seattle hockey history, provided an update on arena construction, and much more. Earlier this month, the team changed its Twitter handle from @NHLSeattle_ to @SeattleKraken. In a clever marketing decision, the team chose to make the move exactly two years to the day after an NHL franchise was awarded to Seattle. Merging the team’s two-year anniversary and the Twitter handle change sparked further conversation and awareness of the brand.
When the new Climate Pledge Arena sign was lifted into place atop the arena, the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena used the #ISawTheSign hashtag to encourage fans to share their sightings. Both social media accounts gave live updates on the sign’s progress. The arena account even went as far as introducing the two helicopter operators by name.
The social media team hasn’t been alone in growing the Kraken brand. Play-by-play announcer Everett Fitzhugh has been an excellent ambassador for the Kraken in his four months with the team. He’s done numerous team-affiliated and non-team-affiliated events, including a live cooking demonstration as part of the Kraken’s Virtual Fansgiving.
Even the analytics team has contributed to the Kraken’s strong brand. Senior Hockey Analyst Namita Nandakumar (@nnstats) has over 21k Twitter followers and has brought her clout within the analytics community to Seattle. With her insightful and funny football takes and coded hockey references, she’s well worth a follow. Maybe it’s the Kraken who are *her* best new brand of 2020?
The Kraken have built a strong brand associated with excellence on and off the ice. They’re already well on their way to being a symbol for the best of Seattle.