While the Washington Redskins are having internal conversations about their name and the potential replacements for that name, fans and pundits everywhere are taking part in groupthink around the same topic.
Names like the Redtails, Red Wolves and Braves have been some of the most recycled name ideas on social media and media outlets. The connection between those names and the team’s current moniker are clear -- they either keep the word ‘red,’ or they keep a Native American theme, which an ESPN report said the team would avoid.
Keith Scully, CEO of Strategic-Noise Group, a marketing, branding and business development company, thinks developing a moniker based on the current name rather than the team’s location is a mistake. In other words, ‘Washington’ should dictate the new name, not ‘Redskins.’
“I don’t like any names that have a color in it right now. Anything with the word ‘red’ right now, I think it’s lending itself to not having a clear definition of what a brand could be for them. So that ‘Red Hogs,’ or the ‘Red Hawks,’ etc. I’m not a big fan of that,” said Scully, who is also a graduate adjunct professor at Georgetown and American universities. “What I would be a fan of is something for the local culture on what it makes sense to go with. Taking a look at the ‘Americans,’ something like that. Something that’s wholesome and it’s Washington, D.C. How do you go ahead and develop an emotion that goes along with the country? I think they’re in the only place in the United States that can do it. Why not try? i.e. Nationals, the way that they did it.”
The Nationals and Capitals both have names that lend themselves to the teams’ location. And while it may seem like a generic idea, each of those teams have developed passionate and loyal fan bases over the years. Another thing those teams have in common, along with the Washington Wizards and Mystics, is the red, white and blue color scheme. But that’s where Scully draws the line as far as synchronization with the Washington theme.
Though a recent report said the team plans to keep its burgundy and gold colors, Scully believes a fresh and distinctive look would be a welcomed change. He also doesn’t think the current social climate should dictate the team’s name and brand. The team has to pick a name that will be acceptable 100 years from now.
Team owner Dan Snyder has said in the past that he believes the term Redskin to represent honor, respect and pride. But his belief of what it means has conflicted with others who see it as a derogatory term. Going with a name that evokes thoughts of the city could avoid that same conflict in the future. People have suggested the area’s former baseball team, the ‘Senators,’ as a potential name. The ‘Monuments’ has surfaced as a potential option. And the parent company of the Harlem Globetrotters offered to sell the rights to the Washington Generals.
Still, Scully thinks there’s a chance the actual name Washington lands on hasn’t been thought of yet. He said the process of rebranding properly could take time the Redskins don’t seem to have if they plan to change their name before the start of the 2020 season, as reported.
“They have an incredible opportunity right now. But I’ll just say that there are two big challenges to start off with. First of all, the team needs to go ahead and keep its current customers as close as possible. Trying to go ahead and bring on a lot more customers is more expensive than keeping the ones you have. So, part of the process could be that [Snyder] actually brings in opinions on what the new name should be. I’ve read about a few of the different names that keep coming up, and I don’t think they’ve hit yet, personally,” Scully said.
“And, the second part is the timing that it takes to go ahead and do this correctly. The Washington Football Club, I think it’s an excellent Band-Aid because they should be taking six, eight months to go ahead and develop the new name that’s going to be comfortable for the league, for the fans, as well as for society.”
Additionally, Scully said getting it right the first time around is vital. As a student of Snyder’s stance on the name over the years, he believes the current change in heart is financially motivated rather than a moral stance. Picking the wrong name is simply bad for business.
“On a business level, you don’t want to make two decisions on this,” Scully said. “If you do it too fast and you do it wrong, it’s going to cost not only on a financial basis a lot more to go ahead and re-change it with everything from the brand guidelines to the naming and the tagging and the marketing collateral that’s needed, the brand identity, the website, everything to go with that. But it’s also just a failed attempt on really trying to grow the team. I mean, again, the revenues have been down. Use this to your advantage now. How can you go ahead and use it to go ahead and make better decisions to go ahead and make more money?”
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