Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Behind the Brand: Lost Boys Not Yet Ready to Grow Up

By Austin Sharp

This article is the first in a series examining the choices made by community teams in how they brand themselves. Each edition will focus on one team, introducing their imagery, presenting how they’ve displayed themselves through their team history, and rating the branding using the American academic letter grading system. The rating will take into account not only the imagery, but also the ideology behind it and how well the two are intertwined.

The Lost Boys are a Los Angeles-based community team powerhouse, whose crest and other branding is as iconic as the team itself. The 2013-14 West Region Champions don jerseys of bold black and red that bear the crest in lieu of the team name, creating an intense image that backs up the Lost Boys’ reputation. The team’s slogan “Never Grow Up” hits hard and commands you to keep your head up and aim for the second star to the right.

Lost Boys Crest. | Photo Credit: The Lost Boys Quidditch Club
The Lost Boys began after UCLA graduate Michael Mohlman approached Dan Hanson of Emerson College looking to create a Southern California all-star team of graduates of the area. The Lost Boys name was derived from the 1991 film “Hook,”  a sequel to “Peter Pan,” where the Lost Boys are a scrappy group of runaways. These runaways reflected a team of players who, in the words of Mohlman, “were recent grads with no team to go to”; they were lost in a post-college quidditch world. The Lost Boys adopted their black and red color scheme from the film, as well as their mantra to “Never Grow Up.” Their crest is also imbued with “Peter Pan” symbolism and can be deconstructed into three parts: the stars, the stripe, and the shape of the crest itself. The stars and stripe are a manifestation of the directions to Peter Pan’s Neverland – “Second star to right and straight on ‘til morning’” – while the crest was born out of the acorn Peter gives to Wendy. The Lost Boys’ branding was born out of deliberate choices to express the feeling of a team of graduates wanting to push forward with a sport that had been isolated to college campuses.

The team did not immediately happen upon success. It suffered defeats at the hands of UCLA and the University of Southern California at its first outing as a team in January 2012, wearing mismatched black shirts with red face paint to the UCLA Miniseries. In March of 2012, the Lost Boys returned to UCLA to prove their worth at Western Cup. The Lost Boys’ jerseys were minimalistic, featuring two white diagonals above their red crest over their hearts.

Lost Boys compete at Western Cup III in the first version of their jerseys. | Photo Credit: Monica Wheeler Photography
The Lost Boys have not strayed from this design to the present day. The Lost Boys closed out their 2011-12 season with a 6-2 record and a second-place finish at the 2012 Cinco de Mayo Cup, falling only to UCLA. The Lost Boys returned to Western Cup next season, debuting new jerseys, featuring a strong red stripe across the chest and a recolored crest. The Los Angeles community team secured a bid to World Cup VI, funding their travels on donations and selling T-shirts bearing their crest and name, thus also providing the Lost Boys and their branding a national stage. The 2012-13 season concluded with the Lost Boys losing in the quarterfinals at World Cup VI to Bowling Green State University and taking home first place and their first tournament win at the 2013 Cinco de Mayo Cup.

The Lost Boys after losing the Western Cup IV final to UCLA. | Photo Credit: Sofia de la Vega Photography
The Lost Boys returned for the 2013-14 season with the same jerseys from the latter half of the prior season, claiming the regional title and securing their footing as a strong contender for World Cup VII. The Lost Boys fell short of their goal at World Cup, losing to Louisiana State in the Round of 32.

The following season the Lost Boys returned with a roster shake-up due to the formation of the Los Angeles Gambits by former Lost Boys Tony Rodriguez and Steve DiCarlo and new jerseys with the white touches eliminated (which first premiered the season before at Diamond Cup in February 2014). The new design for the Lost Boys reflected the strength and iconic nature of the team, ready to claim more titles for itself. Despite falling to the Gambits at the 2015 Western Regional Championship, the Lost Boys completed a strong drive in the second day of USQ World Cup 8, falling in the semifinals to the University of Texas.

Lost Boys in the USQ World Cup 8 semifinals. | Photo Credit: Sofia de la Vega Photography
The 2015-16 season saw another year of the Lost Boys being strong contenders both in the West and on the national level. The Lost Boys returned to their prominent black and red uniforms and ended both their regional and national championship performances in the quarterfinals. After another major roster shake-up, the Lost Boys are having another strong season with a current record of 11-2 and bearing the same strong black and red jerseys introduced in the 2014-15 season with their iconic crest. At the 2017 West Regional Championship the Lost Boys debuted a recolored version of their jerseys, now featuring a white base, black stripe, and red crest. The Lost Boys unboxed the jerseys the morning of the tournament and wore them to an undefeated Day One finish and a semifinals berth.

Lost Boys chaser Justin Fernandez getting his jersey pulled at USQ Cup 9. | Photo Credit: Sofia de la Vega Photography
The Lost Boys are a success story in gameplay as well as in the branding of their team. The simplistic and bold style of their crest, slogan, jerseys, and merchandise are all immediately recognizable and extremely well-coordinated. Other community team brands have tie-ins to “Harry Potter” or other fandoms but do not succeed on the same level as the Lost Boys because they lack a united ideology. The Lost Boys’ slogan communicates its unifying ideology to fans and teammates alike, promoting the idea that quidditch is not a sport limited to college students. The Lost Boys have created a brand that carries a weight in the community that places it among the best, if not the best, in the sport.

The Lost Boys debuted their new jerseys at the 2017 West Regional Championship | Photo Credit: Isabel Aleman
Rating: A+

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