The team was founded in 1988. Until 2002, it was based in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is considered to be one of the most basketball states in America. So the arrival of the NBA in 1989 wasn’t a surprise. But people were truly surprised by the colors of the new club, which no one had ever seen in such a combination before. In the natural environment, the greenish-blue color is not seen along with the purple one. But the 90s were right around the corner, so very soon, the new team’s innovation was picked up by other organizations. Therefore, less than five years later, such basketball team as Vancouver and Detroit, the hockey San Jose, the baseball Florida and football Jacksonville showed off the same indescribable shade of blue.
As for the name, the team’s owner originally planned to call the club Charlotte Spirit, but the fans voted for the Hornets. This name is directly related to the city’s history, whose inhabitants fiercely resisted British troops during the war for the independence of the American colonies. “This city is a true hornet’s nest,” said Marquis of Cornwallis, the British general.
The team got some problems at the beginning of the new millennium. The Hornets wanted the city authorities to help them build a new arena, but officials refused to cooperate with George Shinn, the team owner. Conservative charlottes unanimously hated slightly extravagant Shinn, and since he wasn’t going to sell his brainchild, it was decided to move the Hornets to another city.
It happened in 2002 when New Orleans – a merry, cosmopolitan, brilliant, and impoverished American region became the city they moved in. In New Orleans, the name Hornets no longer had the same historical background, but the sentimental team’s owner decided to keep it. The primary colors remained the same, only the gold one was added. An alternative yellow form appeared in 2004. And in 2005, Hurricane Katrina came to New Orleans, and further staying in this city was poorly compatible with basketball and life. The Hornets had to go to Oklahoma City, where they spent two seasons, while their arena was restored in New Orleans. At the same time, the team officially got quite an overwhelming name New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. The toponym New Orleans disappeared from the home form, but an emblem with the letters OKC (Oklahoma City) appeared.
In 2007, the Hornets returned to New Orleans, and a year later, they slightly changed their brand, making the blue color slightly bluer. The Pelicans emblem was also modified. Designers added two minor logos reflecting local specificity – Fleur-de-lis (symbol of Bourbonian France, whose colonists built the city) and trumpet (symbol of jazz) with the abbreviation NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana).
Before the 2013/14 season, the club abandoned the Hornets franchise, changing its name to New Orleans Pelicans. The other NBA team from Charlotte, Charlotte Hornets, took the name Hornets. The choice in favor of the name Pelicans is easily explained. The fact is that Brown Pelican is the symbol of the state of Louisiana. The animal is depicted both on the state flag and on the state seal.
Pierre the Pelican is the New Orleans Pelicans’ mascot.
Meaning and History
The New Orleans Pelicans, formerly known as the Charlotte Hornets, once wore the cartoon hornet emblem. But this did not last long: in 2014, a different symbol was adopted, which looks progressive and corresponds to the current name. The team’s image was taken care of by its new owner Tom Benson, who kicked off the modern era in Louisiana’s basketball history.
1989 – 2002
The early Charlotte Hornets emblem depicts a blue hornet with a sharp sting. The image is anthropomorphic because the insect has arms and legs. There are also attributes of a sports theme: white sneakers and a brown ball. They associate the logo with a basketball club. The same function is performed by the inscription “CHARLOTTE HORNETS,” divided into two parts and surrounds the drawing above and below.
2003 – 2008
In the 2002-2003 season, the franchise moved to Louisiana and became known as the New Orleans Hornets. After the relocation, the emblem remained almost unchanged: the designers only repainted the ball yellow, updated the name of the city, transformed the font and made the letter “H” on the hornet’s chest more noticeable.
2009 – 2013
Changes in the logo in 2009 – 2013 were made to improve graphics because the layout and design were taken from the previous logo. In 2009, the cartoon hornet became similar to the team’s official mascot, Hugo the Hornet. The blue has taken on a darker hue. Blue and navy blue colors became brighter on the picture, and the ball acquired more natural contours and color. The only change was the replacement of the inscription “Charlotte H,” located on the chest of the hornet, to the inscription “NOLA” (“New Orleans”).
2014 – present
In December 2012, the club announced that it would change its name to Pelicans. The rebranding allowed the club to split from the franchise that originated in Charlotte and moved to New Orleans. The Hornets nickname returned to its historical homeland and became the basis for another team of the same name. New Orleans Pelicans debuted in the 2013-2014 season, with a redesigned logo that is completely different from the retro versions. Dark blue, gold, red and white colors have become the new ones. Also, Pelican has become the symbol of the basketball team. Now the New Orleans Pelicans emblem has a non-standard form and blue background, with the inscription “New Orleans,” written in white at the top. Just below, there are a white pelican head and golden wings. In a red beak, the animal holds a golden ball. At the very bottom, in a semicircle, there are the word Pelicans in white on a red background. A gold outline also frames the entire New Orleans Pelicans logo.
Font and Color of the Emblem
The modern club sign contains the head and wings of a pelican (front view), a gold-colored basketball, white “NEW ORLEANS” on a blue background, and a red semicircle with the word “PELICANS.” Above is the red fleur-de-lis, known as the fleur-de-lis.
The design was developed by the branding studio RARE. Choosing a new concept, experts proceeded from the fact that the pelican represents Louisiana’s state and is found on its seal and the state flag. To make the drawing look harmonious, the artists focused on the wings. At the same time, they tried to avoid the bird profile because they did not want to focus on the massive beak.
The phrase “NEW ORLEANS” is written in a stylized antique font. There are even more serifs than expected: they are not only at the ends of the letters but also in the middle. The word “PELICANS” is a simple sans serif typeface.
The colors are selected according to the official club palette. Each has a specific meaning and is featured on the New Orleans flag. For example, red symbolizes the blood vessels under the pelican’s throat. In the emblem, it is complemented by gold and dark blue.