My 3rd year team is just starting to branch out into additional team activities beyond building a robot, including establishing a solid team brand. I’ve looked over the wonderful Holy Cows branding document, but still have a few questions for the Chief Delphi crowd. How does your team maintain its identity between the often non-overlapping FIRST Robotics and local school/town communities? While team number is often paramount in FIRST, the local community my team is part of (and where our fundraising takes place) is much more likely to recognize us based on our high school affiliation. While I really want our team to have a singular brand identity, we are having trouble coming up with a solution that satisfies the needs of both communities in addition to the aesthetic desires of the team. Any good tips or resources for logo design? How did your team establish its presence in FIRST and the local community? Thanks for the advice!
Locally, our team is very well known as “Waialua” and not our team number. But with respect to the CD and FRC Community, its always been “359” and “Hawaiian Kids” for sure. Most people cant even pronounce our school name correctly anyway.
We have a generic name because 16 years back when FRC was relatively much smaller than it is today, its how other teams recognized us with our (never caught dead wearing our red aloha shirt in public) shirts.
In fact, we got to be good friends with Team 25 in NJ and went to their regional in 2007, because we found out they bought their shirts from the exact same vendor in Hawaii.
School names are hard. I can remember about 800+ different teams by their number, but cant name schools but a handful of them.
We work really hard to make sure we keep a consistent and professional brand that is fun and recognizable. We got lucky, our founders using the name Exploding Bacon gave us a great unique jumping point since it’s something that is hard to forget. I think my number one recommendation is figure out something about your team that you can make hard to forget. If it’s orange and green and a pig on a rocket, awesome, if it’s going by Waialua instead of 359, also awesome!
I think the most important thing to remember is that no matter how many places you go and do outreach, you won’t make much progress unless people remember you after they leave, so give them something unique to remember you by.
If you’re interested in more information on branding and marketing your team we have presented our Big Bacon Theory workshop many times over the years. It covers everything we believe to be crucial in maintaining a strong image in both your FIRST and local communities.
You can find those here:http://www.explodingbacon.com/resources/big-bacon-theory/
Good luck! If you have any questions feel free to ask, always love to help!
There are a number of ways to accomplish this. This worked for our team.
First you need to create your brand, logo and a “cover photo”. In that cover photo be sure to include your school name and town/city along with your logo.
Now put that cover photo at the top of your website and facebook page. You also need to put that logo on your shirts and pretty much every thing you produce. Next you need a blog as the focus of your website’s front page.
Now mount a campaign to get likes to your facebook page. Get your team members to like the page and invite their friends and family that aren’t on the team. You can also hold a contest and create some business cards asking people to like the facebook page to be entered in to that contest. It could be for something as simple as a team Tshirt or maybe a gift card.
Next you need to consistently post to that blog and have those posts automatically post to your facebook page. I suggest daily during build season. Have it post at 5ish PM so that it hits facebook when most people are reading it.
Those people that like your page will then like those articles as they are posted (which they will have to click on to read the rest on your website). Their friends will then see that they like a post or comment on it.
You also want to have the team take part in community events like the annual parade or what ever event(s) that happen in your community and do as many outreach events as possible in your community. When you are there put a out a sign with a QR code that people can use to go to your facebook page and like it.
Given enough time the next thing you know people will see you wearing your shirt with your logo and they will say “Hey didn’t you guys just…”
It worked for my team. Unfortunately we did have some problems with our website and lost all of our existing data and in the process regular readers.
When I joined 1678 my junior year of high school(2006) we were 1678 Team EnGen(engineering generation) and I can say that we had little team identity. EnGen was our we need a name guys solution that was picked quickly out of necessity. In 2009 as our 5th competition season our team name was just a name, it was not our “Team Name”. We wanted something fresh, something original, something to really to be OURS. In 2008 our team shirts had a logo on the front that contained a gear with a half lemon beside it. That stupid lemon is how Citrus Circuits began. So in 2009 we decided to change our team name in a process that I have entirely forgotten. My point here is that having a name and team identity that your team believes in and has pride in, is critical to a strongly identifiable team. I can tell you that having spent a decade with my team, I get the warm fuzzies every time I hear 1678 or see a circuit emblazoned lime. Both the number and the name are important to varying degrees in FIRST, but the goal is to do what works for your team to get noticed and remembered.
If I am talking to somebody about my team and who we are I am going to say, “We are Team 1678, Citrus Circuits Robotics” and then answer any relevant questions.
We have been the “Bonny Eagle Robotics Team” (FRC Team #133) since the mid 90’s, with the nick name “B.E.R.T.” or “B.E.R.T. 133”, we are affiliated with the Bonny Eagle School District in southern Maine.
Most recently (in 2010) the team came up with a logo, which has gone through a few upgrades and color schemes to what we’ve used now for the last few years. It is used on everything from our t-shirts, website, robot, battery charging station, you name it. Before that, we didn’t have a defined graphical brand, just the name.
It is a Scottish Eagle (which was created using parts of different Scottish Eagles) with a shield and banner sort of a coat of arms. Scottish because our school name is of Scottish decent, near Bonny Eagle Pond in Standish Maine. In fact the actual school athletic team names and mascot are “Bonny Eagle Scots”, but the robotics team didn’t want to use that brand, but keep the school colors and part of the name.
So now, we use the logo and certain combinations of colors and graphics with the nick name “BERT 133” (and formally “The Bonny Eagle Robotics Team, FIRST Team 133”) and try to keep a consistent look and brand.
Hope this helps.
Within FRC, we’re TechFire or 225. In the local community, we’re the TechFire FIRST Robotics Competition Team. Our 501c3 is “TechFire Robotics of York.” We are not affiliated with a school, so we try to reference as much association with the community as possible.
For establishing presence in FIRST – I believe competition success, CD buzz and travel to other regions are the top ways to get your team name out there. Teams can be pretty quick to provide endorsements for other teams they know to be good.
For presence in your local community – Attending many events during the off-season and getting press from the local media. We had as much as one activity a week last year, and it dramatically improved our sponsorship prospects and student and mentor recruitment efforts.
^^ THIS ^^
When we started the team we tried very hard to have the identity of the school as part of our branding.
Our first year our team was named the Kealakehe RoboRiders. Our school is “The Wave Riders” generated from the history of surfing starting in Hawaii, so we thought it was a good fit. After our trip to the championships on our rookie year (Thanks Glenn) and hearing so many variations of Robo”instert your mascot here” all over the pits we knew we needed a better, easily identifiable identity.
Being a rookie team we were just struggling to get a robot built and running in time. We had no clue of the amount of branding that was prevalent with the veteran teams. Let alone how important it is!
On the flight home from championships the team brainstormed for hours for better branding and came up with Tiki Technologies, aka, Tiki Techs. After arriving back to the island we did a lot of research on other team names and branding. We knew that Tiki Techs would be here to stay as there was nothing like it.
Besides Hawaiian Kids was taken…
I agree that most times I remember teams by the numbers, but many names do stick, Hawaiian Kids, Cheezy Poofs, Team Titanium, Simbotics, Exploding Bacon, SPAM (HI state buys the most spam), Robonauts, High Rollers, Holy Cows, Code Orange, Coconuts, and so many more….
Changing our team name was the best thing we have done. It is so much easier for us to design our branding around a Tiki then a surfer, besides there is another team on the island that has been using a robotic surfer long before we started in FRC. Waiakea High School, even though the school is known as the Warriors, they have used the names Hot Rocks (5 years) and Warrior Pride (2 years) they use a robotic surfer on all their branding.
Though they no longer compete we did not want to be confused with nor impersonate them. (we miss you Dale and team 1056/2024)
I agree that having the school name associated with the team branding can be needed when working with the community and sponsors, but do not let it keep you from creating a unique team identity.
Since the robotics programs create their own legacy not related to the other school programs, it is just fine to be separate. There is not as much school rivalries in robotics like in other school sports. There shouldn’t be, since FRC has long been known for co-opertition and gracious professionalism. I love the fact that we are all trying to bringing up the level of our competitors to “beat them at their best”.
Finding your brand can take some time, have many team meeting and kick around as many ideas as you can. It could prove to be a great way to involve the students in making a brand that they get to leave behind as their legacy and will always identify with it.
We were very concerned about changing our identity and losing connection with the few sponsors we had after our first year. In fact our change has increased our visibility and created a unique program that the community can immediately identify. Which is better for our program in the long run.
Good luck this season and with creating your branding, it is well worth the time.
Also be aware that your team is called different things by different people. I make sure to mention to my team not everyone knows exactly what “1266” or “Devil Duckies” means, and in some cases it’s better to refer to us as “Madison High School’s Robotics Team” to certain very specific community members. It’s also an issue when they introduce us as “a FIRST Robotics team” to people who don’t understand what FIRST is.
In most cases, you should try to be known by your team name or number though, especially if your school isn’t heavily involved in your team’s production.
Wow, those were some nice examples of standardizing and branding.
Thanks for sharing