Coming up with a new brand name is always tough. Even when there’s no question that a new name is needed, so often every suggestion sounds foreign or off-center. It’s akin to re-naming one of your children—nothing has the comfort as the name you have come to know and love.
A very public re-naming process is slowly drawing to a close for the NFL football team in Washington. For the past two seasons they have been known as the “Washington Football Team,” having dropped their original name because of its racist connotations. During this time, they have received a reported 40,000 suggestions from the general public and other sources and have narrowed their list of finalists to eight possibilities.
You may or may not care about the final selection, promised by early 2022, but play along with me as we review the names and you may see how hard the final choice can be.
- Red Hogs: The hogs reference is to a long-standing fan section in their stadium that dubbed themselves the “Hogs” as proponents of the very large linemen on the team. “Red,” of course, references their original name and is a questionable choice given the need to distance themselves for their old brand.
- Red Wolves: No fan group reference here, but still the highly debatable use of “Red.”
- Defenders: There are several names with a connection to the military, but how ironic would it be to go from a name that was offensive to one that is defensive?
- Armada: An interesting choice with a naval reference. It speaks to overwhelming force, which suits a football team mentality.
- Presidents: An option that’s a nod to their city as home to the head of government, but it seems out of place for a football team. This is also one of five options with three or more syllables. Only four NFL teams currently have more than two, the Patriots, Buccaneers, Forty-Niners, and Cardinals. (And three have a one syllable nickname: Pats, Bucs, and Cards.) While it’s not a deal breaker to have more, it’s rare for a reason: People prefer simple brand names. Exhibit A is Federal Express shortening its name to FedEx, coincidentally the name of the stadium where the Washington Football Team plays. None of the multi-syllabic choices here are easily shortened.
- Brigade: Ah, only two syllables, which is better, but it seems insubstantial, especially compared to a name like Armada.
- Commanders: The fourth choice with military connotations, it is probably a better option than Presidents.
- The Washington Football Team: Yes, this is considered one of the finalists and it by default has the advantage of having gained some familiarity among followers of the sport. It would be shortened to “The Football Team,” or maybe even the “Ballers.” But it could also give the team ownership to the name of the sport as in THE Football Team.
So which would you choose to rebrand the Washington NFL team and plaster a new logo onto every imaginable item from keyrings to cow bells? Every name has is positives and negatives—which is what makes re-branding such a challenge whether you’re a sports team or not. The team in Washington is making the right move by changing their name, but they’re demonstrating how hard it is to make a final choice as well.