Washington Football

Washington Football

At about the same time Washington's football team was announcing it would be known as the ... Washington Football Team in 2020, the newest NHL team released its name and logo. The Seattle Kraken will be the 32nd NHL team. The timing of it all just seems like another black mark in what has been a brutal summer for Washington's team.

One team released a cool new name and logo for its fans while Washington's team kicked the can down the road. It is reasonable for Washington not to rush the process of renaming what was once a beloved NFL franchise, but maybe don't do it at the exact same time another professional sports team is releasing its actual name, especially when it's as awesome as Seattle's.

Use whatever analogy you want. This was a home run/touchdown/goal/slam dunk for Seattle. You may not like the logo or name all that much and that's OK. Personally, I think it's awesome, but there is no logo, name, design, jersey, etc. that will have 100-percent approval. If you don't like it, that's OK, but the way the entire process was handled makes this a huge win for Seattle.

ESPN's Emily Kaplan wrote a story on Seattle and it details how the NHL's newest franchise got this right. Washington's football team should be taking notes because Seattle just provided it a blueprint for how to handle naming a franchise.

 

Make it positive

The name change is happening. Accept it. There are plenty who still love Washington's previous team name and that's fine, but it's not coming back. Now is the time for the team to embrace the process.

Ever since it was announced that the team was going to change its name, the feeling in the city has been one of resignation. No one is going to embrace the name change if the team makes it feel like it is renaming itself under protest. No more statements where you use the previous name in practically every other word, no more talking about the past.

There have been few professional sports teams that have needed a rebrand more than this one. This is the perfect opportunity to do that, but no one is going to be excited for it if the team doesn't embrace it.

Granted, this is not an apples to apples comparison to Seattle, as Seattle is a new franchise, but there have been past Seattle hockey teams. The Seattle Metropolitans even won the Stanley Cup in 1917, becoming the first American team to do so. That would have been a terrible name for the new team. Rather than just reverting to the past, the team embraced the future of a new name and generated plenty of excitement along the way.

When the Washington team starts acting like this is a good thing, the fans will follow.

Listen to the fans

You can't have the fans be the lone voice making this decision or you could end up with the Washington "Football McFootballfaces" as the new team. Having said that, however, Washington should absolutely have its finger on the pulse of its fans when it comes to the name.

Kaplan wrote that the team monitored Twitter conversations about the name and took note of a Seattle Times reader poll in which Kraken had support. It wasn't one of the top two names, but it was at least popular.

Let's face it, the relationship between Washington's football team and its fans is not great. Fans are frustrated by losing, they are frustrated by the toxic culture of the team that reflects negatively on the city as a whole and they are frustrated by not feeling listened to by the owner. You cannot pick a team name and logo that is universally hated by the fans, especially when it feels handed down by an owner who didn't listen or care what the fans thought about it.

As I said, there will not be any team name that will have 100-percent support, but you can't use that as an excuse to ignore what they think either.

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Use meaningful colors

Imagine the city of Seattle. Now imagine the colors you would use for that city. It was rumored that Seattle's new franchise would adopt red and black as its colors and that would have been an awful idea. Seattle needed to be shades of either blue or green. Anything else would have felt wrong.

Washington should not overthink this. Keep the current color scheme. That is meaningful to the franchise and beloved by the fans. If, for whatever reason, the team decides to change the color scheme, the only acceptable combination for Washington would be red, white and blue. The Capitals, Wizards and Nationals all use it and it fits with Washington as a city. Anything else would just feel lke the team trying to be contrarian.

Can you imagine if the team changes its name and says, 'here's the new purple and black logo?' Yikes.

Make Nike a part of the process

A really interesting note in Kaplan's story is how involved Adidas was in the process with Seattle. Adidas collaborated with the team to design the logo and colors which makes complete sense. They are the ones who are going to be making the jerseys and the merchandise so why wouldn't you collaborate with them to find the best possible look?

Washington should not come up with a logo and color scheme and simply present it to Nike and trust that their "vision" will just simply translate into what Nike can produce. Let the experts tell you what's possible, show you what works in terms of colors and logos and work with them to make it look as awesome as possible.

Don't be a caricature

If you are a Washington fan, you are probably sick of seeing the former team logo facepalm. I mean, plenty of Washington fans have used it out of frustration, but it's not great that the logo can become a caricature so easily. That's something to remember when designing a new logo depending on what the team name is.

According to Kaplan, Seattle was aware that going with an outside-the-box name like Kraken would open them up to some trolling so the logo could not be "a cartoon character or something silly."

Washington has been an embarrassing franchise for years now. While Washington fans laugh at the Cleveland Browns, everyone else laughs at Washington. Whatever the new name may be, people will be ready to poke fun. Providing an easy caricature to Twitter trolls will not get the new name off on the right foot.

Use deception

The new name should be highly anticipated and released in a celebrated way. You don't want that celebration undercut by leaks. If the new name is supposed to be announced at a certain time, the new logo can't be leaked a few days ahead of time.

Keeping the lid on a new name and logo for an NFL team will be a bit more difficult than it was for the 32nd NHL franchise, but Washington should take note of some of the precautions Seattle took, beyond just making people involved in the process sign NDAs.

 

Knowing that people monitor domain names and trademarks, the Seattle franchise filed for three trademarks including the Sockeyes and five domain names. People within the Seattle franchise referred to the team as the "Cascades" as a code.  They also did not give the logo to vendors until after the uniform was unveiled. The result was an exciting reveal on Thursday which is exactly the kind of event Washington should be striving for in an exciting rebrand of the franchise.

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