The Cleveland Indians’ rebrand process has officially been in effect since last winter, when the team announced its intention to change its name and move away from an identity that many believe is disparaging towards the Native American community. That process culminated in Friday’s announcement that the team will be known as the Cleveland Guardians, starting with the 2022 season.
Introducing the Cleveland Guardians!— MLB (@MLB) July 23, 2021
The name will go into effect after the 2021 season. pic.twitter.com/ggCFyIRD2y
The team name has local ties, as it references the “Guardians of Traffic” statues at each end of Cleveland’s Hope Memorial Bridge. It also allows for a rather seamless transition, as the final five letters of the name stay the same. The organization clearly is looking to stick with their existing visual identity as much as possible, picking a name similar to the old one and releasing similar logos and uniform mockups almost identical to the ones the team wears now.
Here are the team's mockups for what the new jerseys will look like: pic.twitter.com/zZyNPmpvEg— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) July 23, 2021
There’s a fair argument to be made that the organization should have distanced itself from its old identity as much as possible, picking a name that sounds nothing like the old one and selecting uniforms that depart from the existing ones — especially since the team significantly watered down its uniform set over the last decade as complaints about the “Indians” name and the Chief Wahoo logo intensified. But the team clearly is content to stick with what it believes works, and that means the team’s visual identity will stay relatively unchanged, even as it transitions to a more inclusive, acceptable nickname.