Warning: This may be the worst rebrand on the world stage of sports.
Under the best of circumstances, a rebrand takes a lot of attention, a lot of impartiality, a lot of ingenuity and a lot of saying “No” to uninformed, short-sighted or simply dumb input or conclusions.
In the first few days of February 2022, the NFL team previously known as the Washington Redskins unveiled the result of an 18-month rebrand.
They will now be called the Washington Commanders.
NO REGRETS BRANDING
The NFL’s football team based in the nation’s capital went through this evolution to eliminate “Redskins” from their name since it was considered politically incorrect.
Almost immediately after today’s unveiling of the new name and rebrand, social media started connecting dots that the rebrand process seemed to be oblivious to: abbreviating the new name to something very undesirable.
It’s what people do.
Pat McAfee (former Indianapolis Colts punter) with 2.2 million followers posted on Twitter:
Coach Zach Smith tweeted:
Even Twitter itself started to see a trend:
Just look at history.
- Federal Express became FedEx because of what customers started calling the company.
- Dunkin’ Donuts turned into Dunkin’.
- Domino’s Pizza became Domino’s.
- And Starbucks Coffee became Starbucks.
Abbreviating is more pronounced in football for team names than anyplace else. It’s practically its own sport.
In the world, it’s simple: as people, we shorten names.
Here’s another social media post that points out what was obvious from the outside:
The best rebrands result in sharing. By contrast, the most challenged rebrands result in explanations and awkward clarifications.
WHAT EVERY REBRAND MUST ANTICIPATE
- Naming — Name selection and name development must anticipate and appreciate where it will live, who will be using it, and how it stands up against other contenders in one’s space.
- Knowing Your Audience — Are they hip? Traditional? Rebellious? And this includes one’s geography (like being the team in the nation’s capital).
- Colors — The burgundy and gold colors of the new rebrand have an unfortunate similarity to the hammer and sickle logo adopted during the Russian Revolution. That along with the “Commie” abbreviation is a painful oversight.
- Context — Every brand must forecast who will be its enemies and who will be its allies and ambassadors. To do that, one must anticipate where it will live, where it comes to life, on what channels it will exist and more.
These are fundamentals that go into any brand and why I do what I do for companies around the world.
Want to see how rebrands avoid such pitfalls? Click here.