10 Questions With Le Collectif

We all fell in love with his Senators’ Heritage jersey. We all follow him on Twitter. Now, get to know a little bit more about Jacob Barrette.

Jacob Barrette (@Le_Collectif) has created some absolutely stunning jersey concepts for the Ottawa Senators. Undeniably, the most magnificent concept he has created turned into the Senators’ Heritage jersey that we now all (hopefully) own at least of. On Twitter, he’s recently spearheaded the #GoWithTheO campaign, along with other Twitter users, advocating that the Senators adopt the Heritage jerseys as their permanent home/away set. We posed 10 questions to Jacob about the past, present, and future of the Ottawa Senators franchise in our brand new segment, 10 Questions.

1. What does the Heritage logo represent for the Ottawa Senators franchise?

The O logo and barperpole pattern (toned down on the Heritage uniform) were among the first branding elements adopted by the Ottawa Senators, who were one of the first NHL teams, even before the Original 6. You had the Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, Toronto Arenas and the Canadiens and Wanderers out of Montreal. So the whole Heritage brand we’ve recreated isn’t really a side or alternate brand, it’s really the original Ottawa brand. It represents our hockey history, 11 Stanley Cups and the NHL’s first dynasty.

2. How did you first get involved in designing the current Heritage jerseys?

The whole thing was really an accident. In 2007 when the first Reebok jerseys came out, Ottawa sported a new O shoulder patch. Either that year or the following, rumours of alternate uniforms started going around. I thought since the O was on the shoulders, they’d create a link between the uniforms and use that as the alternate, so I created a quick mock up and posted it online. It sort of took on life from there as fans were really drawn to the look, and at one point I was contacted by the organization to work on the project with the late Paul Kitchen who was an absolute wealth of knowledge on the history of hockey in Ottawa. Along with Senators Marketing, we came up with the look.

3. Why do you prefer the Heritage “O” over the centurion?

I prefer the O because I don’t think a logo should try to imitate a name. The centurion kind of tries to be a senator, whatever that’s supposed to look like. I like the old centurion, I grew up with it, but there’s not as much history behind it. Also, the O and barberpole is a hundred year old look that we brought back to life and is still loved and relevant today, so you know that brand ages extremely well and is the definition of timeless.

4. Why do you think the organization has been hesitant to change the current 3D centurion logo thus far?

I couldn’t tell you. I believe since none of us were around back when the O was the main brand, there might not be that sense of attachment to it. That’s likely caused by a lack of education on the history of hockey in Ottawa. You don’t hear about the Senators being one of the founding teams of the NHL, all you ever hear about is Original 6 this and that. That being said, the organization have made great efforts to put it to the forefront. Once fans are aware of how great the Ottawa Senators were, know the players and everything, that’s when there’s greater pride in sporting the O. So to answer your question, perhaps it’s a lack of familiarity.

5. Does a major re-brand help the organization re-connect with fans who may have lost interest over the years?

Well, no. I tell this to all my clients, the major thing in branding is the product. People will embrace a brand if the product is good, regardless of how it’s presented. There was a great sound bite by Mr Melnyk recently that I think perfectly describes this: “They could play in tutus for all I care as long as they’re winning” or something to that effect. And it’s true (maybe not to that extent, but I’m sure you get the point). If the team wins, the logo and jersey discussion becomes secondary. That being said, I strongly believe that your product should be presented in the best packaging possible, if that makes sense.

6. The Montreal Canadiens are red, the Toronto Maple Leafs are blue; should the Senators go back to black to differentiate themselves in the competitive Eastern-Canadian market?

No. That’s like a kid standing between his two older, taller brothers and looking at them and trying to be different to find his place, to stand out. I think we should go to black because our best uniforms are black, but what Toronto, Montreal, or anyone else does shouldn’t affect what we do. We’re as good a franchise, have as much history and don’t have to do things just to differentiate ourselves.

7. Is a re-brand likely a short-term (next few years) or long-term (LeBreton arena) move for the organization?

I think short-term. I think at this point everyone knows, the organization included, that there’s an issue with the Senators branding. We’re just at a funny time where a new manufacturer is taking over and they’re likely focusing their design efforts on performance and creating the best base product possible to then apply team brands onto them, and that’s perfectly normal and is the right order in which to do things. If I were a betting man, I’d say we’ll see something in the next couple of years.

8. Team slogans: yay or nay?

Meh, they do nothing for me personally, I can see it being useful to create a link between promotional material, print, TV, radio, etc. They can be tacky though. I cringe every time I hear “United in Red” in that “MMMMMONSTER TRUCKS” voice on the radio. I guess slogans are okay when tastefully applied.

9. What is your favourite element about the Ottawa Senators franchise that makes it unique?

That’s a great question. One of the things I’ve noticed that is different is the fanbase. Ottawa has a very logical fanbase with a witty, dry sense of humour. Very knowledgeable. The sky is never falling, we’re also not winning the cup after 10 games. I appreciate that. Another thing is our ability to keep players long-term. Players seem to want to play here, want to win here. Not every franchise had/has a Alfie/Phillips/Neil.

10. Which other NHL team is most in need of a full re-brand?

There’s a few. The Sabres almost have it right but they seem determined to keep some bad elements, the current Capitals look just doesn’t do it for me, the Hurricanes could use a better logo, the Predators, Avalanche…

A HUGE thank you goes out to Jacob for agreeing to chat with us. Be sure to follow Jacob on Twitter @Le_Collectif. 

For more information about the Ottawa Senators Heritage jersey and its origins, you can check out this infographic created by the Senators. 

Stay tuned for future editions of 10 Questions!

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