Major League Lacrosse (MLL) continued their brand upgrade via a complete rebrand launched today. MLL conducted research and collected insightful feedback from constituents in order to study the data and formulate a business game-plan for now and the future of the professional outdoor lax league. The new Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) is coming this year and this fact pushed the MLL to step up their branding efforts in 2019. Management is delivering this time through a new web site, new brand logo and a new draft logo, plus the addition of a new player imager. Original content will be designed with an aim towards targeting their growing GenZ following. Distribution partnerships, social media channels and ongoing player support are key marketing opportunities for MLL fan engagement. Fans got to see the rebrand activated online and onsite at the 2019 Draft held in Charlotte, NC for the first time in league history. Step by digital step, the MLL are getting ready for a 2019 next-gen kind of season to remember.
Is it a good problem to have to rebrand? For the MLL, after 19-years, the answer is an ecstatic yes for their nine franchises.
“We are thrilled to unveil the new MLL branding, as it symbolizes our renewed focus on supporting our players and providing a stellar game day experience for players and fans alike,” said Alexander Brown, MLL Commissioner. “The new MLL branding was thoughtfully crafted and reflects the exciting present and expanding future of our league and the sport of lacrosse.”
Improved gameday is only part of the new way of thinking.
Sports Tech Upgrades
Delivery of live and archived games to fans so they can watch on any device, wherever they are and at any time, is a Standard for all professional sports leagues. MLL entered this realm with their first livestream that took place at the 2019 Draft. Click the link below to watch the archived draft.
Look for teams and the league to stream live games directly from their respective websites.
Yes, the MLL televised games in the past even going so far as to offer pay-per-view but was unsuccessful. Will a streaming focus work for the MLL? The answer to that is complicated and has to do with how many eyeballs watch, whether the new talent is enough to sustain the league in the eyes of fans and sponsors until new superstars are found, and can two pro leagues survive in a niche sport at the same time.
Social media is a top priority for the MLL, their handles are much more engaged than just a few years ago but the PLL is dominating social media chatter so what is next for the MLL?
First, the league’s Instagram account was reset last week as you can see from their limited uploads currently sitting at 15 images and videos making it look like a new account preloaded with 142,000 followers.
The social purge continued with all existing branding on their MLL Twitter and Facebook accounts removed.
Finally, followers were prepped about a change coming through a ten second clip of Boston Cannons’ attackman Mark Cockerton running on all social media handles.
The next evening MLL unveiled the new branding using social and digital channels. The new branding featured a twenty second video with Bayhawks star Colin Heacock announcing “We’re ready, are you?”
MLL did their due diligence over the course of the 2018 season. Together with Nielsen Sports, they conducted a comprehensive fan research study. The results fueled the creative rebranding process, led by Troika/Mission Group (TMG), a global brand experience and integrated communications agency.
Troika, TMG’s L.A. office, and MLL listened to the player’s thoughts and gathered stakeholder feedback. Troika and MLL decided to pitch the rich history of the league, the geographic growth of the sport, the rapidly growing reach of MLL, attributes that are central to the sport of lacrosse, and the bright future of the sport and the league.
“As we pride ourselves on carefully crafting identities for blue-chip brands, we were honored to be chosen as the agency to work with MLL on its rebranding efforts,” said Dan Pappalardo, President of Troika. “Although MLL operates in a niche sports market, the league’s vision and its new branding help position MLL as a leader in the national sports market landscape.”
A strong digital focus is essential to MLL’s rebrand. The League plans to activate their digital communication channels in order to present and celebrate top players and amazing stories. In the upcoming months, MLL will present their players to the public in a manner reflective of the unparalleled talent and passion they put forth both on and off the field.
MLL’s new comprehensive digital and social strategy includes working with select top players from across the league to produce unique digital creative distributed both by the league and by the players.
2019 MLL Draft presented by Cascade
MLL hosted the 2019 Collegiate Draft presented by Cascade Saturday, March 9 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. The Draft was free of charge to attend and featured representatives from every MLL team. Major League Lacrosse streamed the event for the first time in league history, from their website. More than 550 fans, players, league executives, and sponsors attended. The Ohio Machine picked Alex Woodall, Towson University’s faceoff specialist, with the first overall pick.
Bringing the MLL Draft down south for the first time to the HOF was smart business development. That city is pure sports crazy and lacrosse is no exception.
More MLL onsite activation included a wrapped race car showcasing the new branding.
The MLL also released a new website for the first time in more than a decade to coincide with the rebrand. The clean, fresh and fast new website, created with MLL partner, Sidearm Sports, is set to feature a new custom state-of-the-art statistics platform, player features, an intuitive user-friendly design and live streaming capabilities.
The new logo is said to be fast, aggressive, innovative, and player focused.
The new brand logo look and feel represents the youthful, intense, and bold nature embodied in the game of lacrosse. The red, white and blue color scheme pops especially with the hint of a silver gradient surrounding the shield. The shield is centered around the player, a core MLL theme.
About Major League Lacrosse
MLL has led the sport of lacrosse into the mainstream of competitive team sports since 2001. In the spring of 2018, MLL entered into new leadership for the first time in 17 years when it selected Alexander Brown as the Commissioner.
The league is made up of nine teams: The Atlanta Blaze, Boston Cannons, Charlotte Hounds, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Dallas Rattlers, Denver Outlaws, Florida Launch, New York Lizards, and Ohio Machine.
The 2019 season opens May 31. Visit MLL website for tickets.
Sports Techie, MLL is based in Boston, MA. I heard a stat about growing up in Boston as a kid and being a local sports fan. It means their young fans get to add a new Championship under their belt every two years whether it’s the Patriots, Red Sox or perhaps the Celtics this season. Some cities wait decades, hello Seattle Mariners, New York Knicks and Arizona Cardinals. Therefore, league management is surrounded by a sport dynasty in the Pats and winners in most the other teams located in this American treasure of a sports city. All that winning can’t hurt the MLL!
The MLL are looking for innovative ways to help ensure their continued success in the face of lacrosse competition after losing many of their star players to the new league and having to in effect, regroup. The player’s in today’s MLL seem to be all in with the new rebrand.
“I am excited about the direction we are going,” said Zach Currier, standout midfielder for the Denver Outlaws. “The rebrand is more than the innovative logo. It brings the game, the players and the passion for our sport to the fans in a way no one else can.”
The MLL’s goal of creating content designed to engage MLL’s core GenZ audience with a focus on human characteristics authentic to each featured players’ style of play and personalities seems wise. Attracting millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers to the new MLL is the bottom line.
Does the United States, Canada and rest of the world have enough lacrosse enthusiasts for both the PLL and MLL to succeed?
Two leagues are better than none.
See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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