How the Water Tower Inspired Branding of Baseball's Florence Y'alls
"Y'alls is a culture and Florence is its capital."
The Florence Y'alls is how the Frontier League's local baseball squad will be known for now on, a locally-inspired change from its previous "Freedom" moniker.
What started as a crowdsourced change-the-team's-name event last fall concluded this week with the big reveal that the team would be as Florence as it could be. There is no more iconic structure in the City of Florence, and perhaps all of Northern Kentucky, than the water tower along I-75 that reads, "Florence Y'all".
As a quick history lesson, the tower once briefly advertised the then-new Florence Mall before it was determined that a public property could not be used to promote a private one in that manner. With a clever paint job, the M from mall was changed to the Y in Y'all, and decades later the promotion lives on with more of an impact than anyone probably could have predicted.
Now "Y'alls", a somewhat awkward pluralization of the Kentucky and southern-centric way of addressing a group of people, will be emblazoned on jerseys and caps and other sports memorabilia.
“It’s a very exciting time in our organization's history,” said Josh Anderson, Y’alls Vice President and General Manager. “We have a name that is uniquely Florence, and on a larger scale, uniquely Kentucky. We look forward to creating ‘Y’Alls Culture’ on a nightly basis.”
Fans can expect unapologetic southern fun as the Y’alls embrace the mantra of being the first professional sports franchise going south, and the last sports team when going north.
“Welcome to Y’alls Country,” team president and CEO David DelBello said. “It’s great to have our own version of a ‘Hollywood’ sign in the iconic Florence Y’all
water tower. But the name Y’alls is so much deeper rooted than that. It embodies Northern Kentucky, and every night we are going to show off the best of Northern Kentucky, and the state of Kentucky.”
The Florence baseball team worked with Covington-based BLDG to create the logo and develop branding for the Y'Alls.
“We are a group that lives and breathes Northern Kentucky every day,” said Jay Becker, BLDG president and owner. “Our firm of 23 individuals are largely all from here. So when we heard Northern Kentucky’s team was rebranding, the project become a source of deep pride for us.”
The team name was selected after more than 2,200 name suggestions were submitted by fans. Approximately 40 percent of the blind submission round were “Y’alls” or included some variation of “Y’All” in the name. Y’alls then emerged as the most popular in a final five phase of the name selection process with more than 70 percent of the vote.
“The brand, logo, and culture the Y’alls create will pay homage to baseball during a more simple time,” Anderson said. “Kick back, relax and get ready for 9 innings of good ol’ affordable family fun.”
The branding team explained the rationale behind the logo and the colors chosen. The font for the all-lower case "y'alls" is described as "classic, nostalgic, and fun American baseball" while the slant of the "y" indicates Northern Kentucky's "laid-back casual nature". The "all's", the branding firm said, is placed in "a casual Kentucky shape", apparently referencing the outline of the state's border.
The star above the "y" signifies Florence as the capital of the word "y'all" while also serving as a nod to the previous Freedom name. "We're taking ownership of the word. It's not our team. It's y'all's team," the branding reads.
An additional logo plays on the Kentucky state flag, which classically features two frontier-era gentleman of different backgrounds embracing with the message of "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" written around them. In Florence, the image shows the two gentlemen in baseball attire, apparently a player and an umpire, with a message that reads, "United we ball, forever with y'all."
The red in the branding is drawn from the stripes atop the aforementioned water tower, as does the cream white. The light blue is inspired by the sky beyond the tower on a nice day.
Response on social media was full of praise and some dissent over the name change, but locally, officials were on the side of Y'alls.
After voting to adopt the new name, Florence Councilman J. Kelly Huff said that he thought the name was very fitting for a team that called Florence home, citing that the 'y'all' brand was well known across the state and the country.
"We are Y'all," said Florence Mayor Diane Whalen, whose father was mayor when the water tower went through its y'all transformation. "My dad would be very pleased."
Written by Michael Monks and Connor Wall