TV Upfronts

Exclusive: Golden State Valkyries Debut Women's Basketball Brand on WNBA Opener

Golden State Warriors marketing leader Amanda Chin and creative partner Cartwright explain the layers behind the logo

Leaders from Glossier, Shopify, Mastercard and more will take the stage at Brandweek to share what strategies set them apart and how they incorporate the most valued emerging trends. Register to join us this September 23–26 in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Golden State Valkyries won’t take the court as the newest WNBA franchise until 2025, but their brand goes to work today.

On opening day for the Women’s National Basketball Association, Golden State Warriors svp of marketing Amanda Chin unveiled the name and logo of the Golden State Valkyries—the first new WNBA franchise since the Atlanta Dream joined the league in 2008.

The Warriors ownership group paid a WNBA record $50 million expansion fee for their spot in the league, but Chin told an audience at ADWEEK’s Brand Play Sports Marketing Summit that it wasn’t the price of admission that made the organization want to get the details of its entry into women’s basketball right.

“My 6-year-old and I were at a Warriors game about a year ago, and she leaned over to me and she said, ‘Mom, how come girls don’t play basketball?’ And I was like, ‘I’ve failed her,’” Chin said. “Immediately, my husband and I ran to Stanford, and we got her to see a Stanford women’s basketball game, and now [University of Southern California star freshman] JuJu [Watkins] is her favorite player.”

After Warriors ownership was granted a WNBA franchise in October 2023, it similarly made that team’s branding a community effort. It hired Los Angeles-based agency Cartwright—which just produced a Coca-Cola March Madness campaign targeting women’s and men’s basketball fandoms during the Final Four—to help develop the brand and find a name that would inform the logo, colors and other elements.

During the press conference announcing the new franchise, Warriors owner Joe Lacob—who previously owned the San Jose Lasers of the now-defunct women’s American Basketball League from 1996 to 1998—referred to California’s Golden State nickname several times and noted that the team’s name would reflect the entire Bay Area.

For the rest, however, the Warriors looked at elements like local culture (think Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty), nature (Seattle Storm, Chicago Sky), and energy and vibe (Los Angeles Sparks, Washington Mystics). With no clear answer, the Warriors turned to the public, who sent back thousands of submissions with one recurring name: Valkyries.

The Valkyries of Norse mythology are fearless, unwavering, flighted warrior women who guide the souls of deceased warriors to the afterlife. Chin noted they’re “associated with brightness and gold, but also bloodshed.” More recently, however, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe evolves from a drunken, blaster-wielding scrap-metal retriever to a redeemed warrior and ruler of New Asgard.

“We want to build something that people will want to wear on a shirt or a hat—how do we drive merchandise, and is it something that a player is going to be excited to represent?” Chin said. “As a marketer, one of the most important filters was the storytelling possibilities.”

Creating an icon

While nodding to the Warriors name without using the tag that moved with the franchise to the Bay Area from Philadelphia in 1962, the Valkyries were free to develop an identity all their own. The Golden State Valkyries name received its own font—the sharp-edged, Nordic-influenced Valkyries Font—but needed an impressive foundation to rest it on.

For the team logo, Cartwright and Chin opted against a Warriors-style circle, instead embracing a V shape that represented the Valkyries’ name, victory and a “symbol of femininity.” It gave the logo a spine resembling both the tower of the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge—connecting the team’s offices in Oakland and its Chase Center home court in San Francisco—and a valkyrie’s sword.

The Golden State Valkyries logo and Golden State Warriors marketing leader Amanda Chin
Amanda Chin notes that each element of the Golden State Valkyries logo tells a story.Golden State Warriors

On each side of that spine are the suspension bridge’s cables that serve as both valkyrie wings and 10 wedges representing players on each side of a basketball court. Altogether, the logo contains 13 lines—noting the Valkyries’ place as the 13th team in the WNBA when they arrive next year.

Together, it has the retro-futurist look of ‘80s vector-graphic video games—not Cartwright or Chin’s intention, but still pointing toward the future. In the Warriors’ backyard, Cal and UC Berkeley women’s sports have won more than 70 NCAA Division I national championships combined, with Stanford’s Hall of Fame basketball coach Tara VanDerveer recording the most wins in collegiate history.

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) introduced its Bay FC club to the area this season, while the Warriors’s Steph Curry and New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu were the top draw of NBA All-Star Saturday—attracting 5.4 million viewers to their three-point shootout.

“The Bay Area is an icon of progress and a technological haven for the world—on and off the court, we’re changing the game,” Chin said. “We fully intend to anchor the WNBA and change the WNBA for the positive, which may not be as overt in the logo design, but that is something we take into everything we do.”

A violet disposition

Even the colors behind the team’s brand were picked with purpose.

Cartwright and Chin chose the Valkyries’ proprietary color—Valkyrie Violet—to indicate power, ambition, nobility and women’s empowerment. Paired with a shade of black dubbed Total Eclipse, Valkyrie Violet is viewed by its creators as a “bold,” modern” and “dramatic” color distinct from the Warriors’ blue and yellow.

The WNBA Golden State Valkyries logo
The Valkyries logo using the team’s proprietary font and shade of violet.Golden State Warriors

It also showed up best on team uniforms, the Valkyries’ “highest visibility asset.” The team spent time with Nike sifting through its color options and figuring out which would look just as good on screens and in marketing materials as they do on jerseys, jackets and other offerings before making its final choice.

“There were some colors in the range that were not achievable,” Chin said. “Nike came to us at one point and said, ‘We can’t do this in cotton and fleece,’ and we were like, ‘Oh, cotton and fleece feel pretty important to achieve from a merchandise standpoint.’”

The colors and logo get their first test when the Valkyries release their first apparel through the team store today. The team’s partnership with Nike is supplemented by gear from Fisll, New Era, Phenomenal, Playa Society, The Wild Collective, Wear by Erin Andrews and Wilson.  

On May 18, Chase Center’s Thrive City space will give the brand and its merch a test run at a Valkyries block party featuring Lacob, Valkyries president Jess Smith, and Bay Area artists including Kehlani, E-40, P-Lo and Goapele. With more than 7,000 fans already signed up for season tickets, the Valkyries brand now hits the streets in preparation for WNBA opening day in 2025.

“As we move forward with this brand and start to figure out how to stand the franchise up and get ready to be on the court in 2025, we’re going to be looking to bring to life the brand in a way that really speaks to the audience and speaks to the brand,” Chin said. “We’re still figuring out what the game presentation will look like and what are the extensions of the brand through that live environment in terms of how we can tell the story there. It feels like there’s a ton of opportunity.”