The National Hockey League’s newest franchise (finally) announced its name today: The Seattle Kraken.
I’m not going to lie, I don’t like the name. The logos and jersey are fantastic. Much like Minnesota Wild, it’s a name saved by the imagery created for it.
And with it announced, my 30-month search for the team’s identity is done.
The idea that the team might be called the Seattle Kraken first came to light in January 2018, when I reported that Oak View Group had registered 38 domain names related to 13 team names. In the time since then I went from nearly certain the team would be the Sockeyes to absolutely certain it would be the Kraken, and that their American Hockey League affiliate would be the Palm Springs Firebirds.
Which is why a some comments from the team today are interesting to me.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan noted the following in her deep-dive into the Kraken identity:
Seattle NHL filed three trademarks — Kraken, Sockeyes and Breakers — and registered five domain names — Kraken Hockey, Sockeyes Hockey, Evergreen Hockey, Renegades and Seattle Renegades.com — so they could use some as decoys. The team also worked with a company in Hawai’i to do some registration and consulted with a firm in London to deflect attention.
The final trademark was approved exactly a week ago, at which point they were ready to go full steam ahead.
Except, as noted above, there were at least 38 initial domains for 13 team names. Additionally, there are no trademark registrations currently visible in the USPTO database.
The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark also looked into “how did Seattle keep the secret?”
Nic Corbett, the director of NHL relations for Adidas, said the entire design process took almost two years. The Portland-based company would travel by car, plane or rail to the team’s offices in Seattle, while also traveling to Los Angeles where the Kraken’s ownership group is based, being extremely mindful of their circumstances and surroundings. It meant looking around to make sure nobody could hear what was said or waiting until they were in a more private place to go into more details. They were checking their airplane and train seats as a way of ensuring nothing was left behind in order to keep the Kraken’s secret.
I buy this level of operational security a lot more than I accept the cloak and dagger domain and trademark registration efforts as a reason for the lack of a concrete leak.
The reason I look at domains and trademarks when trying to determine possible team names is because they’re the areas outside of the team’s control. There are, of course, ways to hide them, some of which are better than others. It’s odd to me to see the Seattle organization patting themselves on the back for the subterfuge around domains and trademarks when that had no impact on keeping the secret.
The initial Seattle Kraken-related domain was registered with Oak View Group’s name attached to it. There was no secrecy. Filings from Hawai’i didn’t detract from that. Trademarks meant to distract weren’t even made public, defeating the purpose entirely.
Even if those trademarks had become public, it only would have served to narrow down the name to Kraken or Sockeyes, as those are the only names that appear on both the domain and trademark lists.
In the two years that the identity was being worked on, the only thing that drew attention away from the name possibly being Seattle Kraken was that Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times went on the radio and said he was told Kraken was out of the running.
So, sure, give the organization credit for locking things down between them and adidas. Just remember that the only thing that actually took attention away from their chosen name was someone lying to a beat writer about it.