The WNBA is launching a "refresh" of its brand that will include a new logo design. It will debut this week in conjunction with Wednesday's draft, but the full rollout won't take place until the 2020 season. The WNBA also has a new marquee partner in AT&T, which will be the title partner of the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game.
Christy Hedgpeth, the WNBA's chief operating officer, said the league's desire to build cultural relevance prompted a "comprehensive look at the entire business." The league worked with Sylvain Labs to get brand-design consultation.
"It's really about who we are, first and foremost, and who are our players," Hedgpeth said. "We think about how they have been at the forefront of a lot of conversations around women and culture. And they've been leading the conversation in a lot of ways.
"Our league for 22 years so far has stood for diversity, inclusion and equality and been one of the very few women's professional leagues to make it. We really think that we have an opportunity and the potential to be much more culturally relevant than we are."
The WNBA begins its 2019 season on May 24. The league still has not named a new president, but Hedgpeth was officially moved into her role in February and things like this branding initiative have taken place under WNBA interim president Mark Tatum.
The WNBA's new primary color palette will be black, white and a type of orange called "fire." The woman in the new logo will not be in a box, as it was previously, but will stand alone. The WNBA's first logo when the league launched in 1997 was a female version of the Jerry West-inspired NBA logo, but it wasn't based specifically on any player.
The WNBA went to a new logo before the 2013 season that was a player with a ponytail going for a layup. In the newest version, the player is also going toward the basket and her hair is in a bun. The logo was not based on any player or group of players, but with widespread player input.
"We have been working with them very closely through this project," Hedgpeth said of the players. "They've been incredibly engaged and helped us reshape all aspects of the brand re-set. They really are invested in the future of this league.
"The younger, hipper, cooler, very socially conscious consumer is desirable, because they are setting the pace of culture, the trends around music, fashion, etc. And that's really who our players are."
While the new branding will debut this week in social media and other areas, it won't actually appear on WNBA uniforms, basketballs or the court until 2020, Hedgpeth said, as the league will need more time for the complete transition. But the league wanted to launch the rebranding now because it considers that essential for growth.
It should lead to more merchandise for WNBA fans to purchase even before it's officially on WNBA uniforms.
"Yes, without question," Hedgpeth said. "The idea of the brand refresh and reset opening up new opportunities for merchandise was central to our conversations and our strategy.
"You can't be culturally relevant without having cool stuff to wear. So we're excited to build on our merchandise and work with our partners to reflect the brand in a lot of cool and exciting ways."