I was sitting around planning out my holiday shopping last week when it struck me how stupid it was that Mike Dee and the Padres decided not to unveil their new uniforms in time for Black Friday shopping. There were at least three people I could have bought new merch for if it was offered for sale. Instead, the team decided to hold off on the unveiling so they could undoubtedly do a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT. Much to Mike Dee’s chagrin, local hero and Gaslamp Baller @SDHatGuy happened upon a leaked 2016 hat featuring the new official colors of blue and Sunshine Yellow. After that, the floodgates broke and Chris Creamer was busy reporting on the full uniform set. So the cat is out of the bag and still no announcement for us Cyber Monday customers.
I’ve expressed my disdain for the new colors, and especially the uniform fragmentation strategy pursued by this ownership group. Uniforms create a brand identity for organizations, and especially colors should be consistent across brand books. The Padres are in a unique position where the fanbase is reportedly split between liking the more recent blue and the historically used brown. Instead of nutting up and selecting a color scheme the new uniforms add to the wishy washiness by adding a brown home alternate uniform to go along with new Navy digital camo in blue. They’ve added a new color to the scheme with “Sunshine Yellow”, but then don’t use the “Sunshine Yellow” on the road uniforms. It would have made perfect sense to use the new yellow to link the uniform sets. Make no mistake, the road alternate browns are the front office’s attempt to throw a token bone to the Bring Back The Brown crowd. When the new uniforms are revealed, it will be reported nationally that the Padres are bringing back the brown (this is how last years Way Back Wednesdays were reported nationally, no doubt spurred on by Padres PR). But rest assured, they will only be brought out on home Friday’s allegedly. Bringing them out as alternates gives ownership an excuse to say “hey guys look, we tried, and it didn’t sell”, likely pitting traditional brown uniforms in throwback designs (Cooperstown Collection/47 products) against the new home alternates.
The most interesting aspect to me is the fact that the team will now have two regularly utilized home alternate uniforms. The Navy themed digital camo will be brought out for all Sunday home games, and allegedly, the new brown home alternates will be brought out on Friday home games. This opens up the distinct possibility that the Padres will field FOUR different uniforms in under a week’s time – and this will be a semi regular occurrence! Take a look:
Anytime the Padres are on the road during the week and come home for a homestand starting on the weekend, this occurrence will happen. As anyone that has studied marketing knows, the best way to establish and build a brand identity is to constantly change that brand identity.
There is another possible occurrence that I’ve called The Unicorn Week because it is hard to spot, possibly mythical, but amazing when found. Some teams (offhand, I know the Nationals have done this) have done throwback games during the week where the other team springs for unis for the away Padres to wear. My Nationals example involved the Nationals wearing and providing Negro League uniforms for a weeknight game. There is always the possibility of a weeknight throwback away game where the Padres would wear one of their throwback sets. That would lead to this:
That’s right, FIVE different uniforms in under a week’s time. It’s possible. It’s doubtful that the Padres would do a Way Back Wednesday type thing in 2016 so as not to steal the thunder of the mediocrely designed brown home alternates, but it’s entirely possible they’d be brought back in future years. This amazingly bad establishing of a brand identity could be written about in undergrad marketing textbooks for decades to come.
For the time being, let’s enjoy the home alternates, but note that there is still cause for concern as far as this team having any kind of real identity thanks to the fragmented uniform set. And let’s keep a close lookout for The Unicorn Week which will as magical as Disneyland when it finally happens.