With the decision made to bring a major junior hockey league to Lewiston, the creation of a team image was at hand, and choosing a name was the first step breathing life into the Lewiston MAINEiacs.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League sponsored an online “Name the Team” contest on its website, lewistonhockey.com, in the spring of 2003 to generate ideas and encourage a sense of community ownership in the team. The contest evoked a response of more than 1,400 submissions via website and mail and, from among them, the “Lewiston MAINEiacs” was chosen as the overall winner. Proposed by George Christie of New Vineyard, the name was selected for its youth appeal, marketability and regional identity.

“Choosing the name for a team should be easy,” says Matt McKnight, vice president and governor for the league, “but it was very challenging. We had to consider the impact the team name would have on others and, while it’s impossible to please everyone, we also needed to select a name that could translate to a logo.”

With an emphasis on Maine, the league particularly liked the fact that the new name reached beyond the boundaries of Lewiston-Auburn. McKnight admits, however, there were concerns expressed by community members over the negative images evoked by the word “maniac.”

“By definition, a maniac is someone who is overly enthusiastic for something,” explained McKnight. “In this case, we’re maniacs for hockey!”

According to McKnight, as time has passed, even those who expressed concern have come around to the name. “Once the name evolved into an identity, there was no longer a problem. We didn’t want a traditional name and image. We wanted to trail blaze, take a risk. We’re pioneering a new market.”

As a point of interest, McKnight points out that even the military uses the name “Maniacs.” The Air Force Fueling Depot in Bangor has its own logo and is known throughout the world as “The Maniacs.”

With name in place, it was time to return to the drawing board, literally.

Impact Communications Group, a company out of Halifax, worked with McKnight to choose colors and create a mascot that would complete the team image. Like the name, the logo needed to translate well to advertising and promotional merchandise including hats, shirts, jerseys and anything that could sport a logo.

“Choosing the colors was the difficult part,” comments McKnight. “It was important to choose colors that would sell and yet not look like a copy of an NHL team.”

In the early stages, the Lewiston MAINEiac graphic was designed by combining the letters “M” and “L” to form the upper body of a hockey player holding a stick. As the logo’s personality evolved, a squared jawline, a missing tooth, and a wild-eyed look were combined with a tweaked color scheme of the old Sherbrooke Castors to define the character.

“We liked the idea of holding on to a bit of history while we created a look that was uniquely our own,” elaborates McKnight.

In the end, an image incorporating the word mark and the graphic is a design that is at the same time unique and functional for both merchandising and web applications. The design plays well on both light and dark backgrounds, an important feature when considering the different colored team jerseys for home and away games. Additionally, the head of the hockey player graphic can be used as a secondary mark independent of the rest of the logo for merchandising purposes.

Since its creation, the Lewiston MAINEiac mascot has made appearances at community events including the Maine State Parade and the Great Falls Balloon Festival, events held in both Lewiston and Auburn. Business cards as well as the newly renovated Central Maine Civic Center sport the team colors, and very soon, in communities throughout central Maine, the Lewiston MAINEiac may become as familiar a sight as “Bean boots,” lobsters and chickadees.

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