Navigating a Sensitive, High-Stakes Rebrand

A hostile and split fan base, mixed science, over-politicized debates, and immense financial consequences at stake; Welcome to the Washington Redskins’ organization. Right, wrong, or debatable, the fact is that the football team and business has found itself facing uncompromising pressure to move on from its name of 80+ years.

Fortunately, moving on from their name doesn’t necessarily mean forfeiting its identity. On the contrary, this can be an opportunity to reinspect the deeply meaningful web of values, beliefs and actions that make up what we know as “The Washington Redskins.” They now have the opportunity to amplify that identity in a new name that even better captures it.

Also fortunately for them, Prismonde has engineered a cutting-edge naming approach to do exactly that. (Dan, please send inquiries to hello@prismonde.com) We haven’t actually spoken to anyone in the organization yet, but this brand study shows our attempt to evolve the name and brand, from our outside-looking-in perspective.

Navigating a Sensitive, High-Stakes Rebrand

A hostile and split fan base, mixed science, over-politicized debates, and immense financial consequences at stake; Welcome to the Washington Redskins’ organization. Right, wrong, or debatable, the fact is that the football team and business has found itself facing uncompromising pressure to move on from its name of 80+ years.

Fortunately, moving on from their name doesn’t necessarily mean forfeiting its identity. On the contrary, this can be an opportunity to reinspect the deeply meaningful web of values, beliefs and actions that make up what we know as “The Washington Redskins.” They now have the opportunity to amplify that identity in a new name that even better captures it.

Also fortunately for them, Prismonde has engineered a cutting-edge naming approach to do exactly that. (Dan, please send inquiries to hello@prismonde.com) We haven’t actually spoken to anyone in the organization yet, but this brand study shows our attempt to evolve the name and brand, from our outside-looking-in perspective.

A Scientific Approach to Naming

Applying Cognitive Science & Design
Strategy Principles

The Prismonde Naming Methodology

1. Know Yourself
2. Know Your Industry
3. Know Your Customer
4. Ideate
5. Test
6. Feedback

A Scientific Approach to Naming

Applying Cognitive Science & Design Strategy Principles

The Prismonde Naming Methodology

1. Know Yourself
2. Know Your Industry
3. Know Your Customer
4. Ideate
5. Test
6. Feedback

Step 1. Know Yourself

We began our study by identifying the authentic identity of the Washington Redskins’ brand.

We did this by running a quick linguistics analysis on the organization; analyzing language from a comprehensive swath of media, including: their website, speeches & statements by founders/ owners/marketing executives, documentaries, historic slogans, fan groups, forums, and so on.

Our analysis would reveal the Redskins’ unique Brand Pillars™.

Years of bleeding-edge R&D have given us a world-leading understanding of Brand. We spent the last few years weaponizing this knowledge into a powerful methodology to accurately define and express brands.
Brand Pillars™ are the bedrock of our system. These are the primordial DNA strands from which brands are spawned. And we applied our process (as best we could without access to key stakeholders) to the Redksins’ organization.

Step 1. Know Yourself

We began our study by identifying the authentic identity of the Washington Redskins’ brand.

We did this by running a quick linguistics analysis on the organization; analyzing language from a comprehensive swath of media, including: their website, speeches & statements by founders/ owners/marketing executives, documentaries, historic slogans, fan groups, forums, and so on.

Our analysis would reveal the Redskins’ unique Brand Pillars™.

Years of bleeding-edge R&D have given us a world-leading understanding of Brand. We spent the last few years weaponizing this knowledge into a powerful methodology to accurately define and express brands.
Brand Pillars™ are the bedrock of our system. These are the primordial DNA strands from which brands are spawned. And we applied our process (as best we could without access to key stakeholders) to the Redksins’ organization.

ENTERPRISING

Pioneering | Expansion | Capitalism

  • Founder George Preston Marshall was a trailblazer
  • Always broadening audience, experience, and revenue streams
  • Currently the 3rd-most valuable NFL brand

ENTERTAINMENT

Showmanship | Tribalism | Passion

  • Huge party atmosphere unique to the this fanbase
  • Constant drive to enhance the game as a spectacle
  • First team to add: cheerleaders, marching band, halftime shows, broadcasting, etc.

TRADITION

Honor | Virtue | Pride

  • A storied franchise with a rich tradition
  • Large Emphasis on winning on and off the field
  • Strong commitment to preserving proud history

ENTERPRISING

Pioneering | Expansion | Capitalism

  • Founder George Preston Marshall was a trailblazer
  • Always broadening audience, experience, and revenue streams
  • Currently the 3rd-most valuable NFL brand

ENTERTAINMENT

Showmanship | Tribalism | Passion

  • Huge party atmosphere unique to the this fanbase
  • Constant drive to enhance the game as a spectacle
  • First team to add: cheerleaders, marching band, halftime shows, broadcasting, etc.

TRADITION

Honor | Virtue | Pride

  • A storied franchise with a rich tradition
  • Large Emphasis on winning on and off the field
  • Strong commitment to preserving proud history

Step 2. Know Your Industry

We reviewed the names of all 32 NFL teams in search of patterns. The breakdown is as follows:

50%

Human Archetype

45%

Animal Species

5%

Other

Of the human archetype names, they broke down into two sub groups: aggressive and benign archetypes (e.g. Vikings and Packers). Redskins was on the cusp, but sorted into the aggressive subgroup, due to the fighting spirit and war-related brand elements of their past.

We elected to keep with tradition and follow the same archetypal pattern for new name.

Step 2. Know Your Industry

We reviewed the names of all 32 NFL teams in search of patterns. The breakdown is as follows:

50%

Human Archetype

45%

Animal Species

5%

Other

Of the human archetype names, they broke down into two sub groups: aggressive and benign archetypes (e.g. Vikings and Packers). Redskins was on the cusp, but sorted into the aggressive subgroup, due to the fighting spirit and war-related brand elements of their past.

We elected to keep with tradition and follow the same archetypal pattern for new name.

Step 3. Know Your Customer

Key Stakeholders in the Rebrand Process

All reports (and history) indicate that owner Dan Snyder will have the final say on the matter. He is said to be working closely with head coach Ron Rivera. No doubt that marketing executives will be involved in the process as well. Lastly, the front office will be wise to have an ear to the ground, keeping a close eye on what their fans and the good people of DC & Virginia would be receptive to.

Critical Factors for the New Name & Brand Direction:

  • Maintain the rich tradition & legacy
  • Continue to honor American Indian culture
  • Speak to service, of country and community
  • Achieve evolution, but not revolution
  • Appease fans of varying opinions of the old name
  • Embrace the new without alienating the old
  • Above all else: align with the true, original brand identity

Step 3. Know Your Customer

Key Stakeholders in the Rebrand Process

All reports (and history) indicate that owner Dan Snyder will have the final say on the matter. He is said to be working closely with head coach Ron Rivera. No doubt that marketing executives will be involved in the process as well. Lastly, the front office will be wise to have an ear to the ground, keeping a close eye on what their fans and the good people of DC & Virginia would be receptive to.

Critical Factors for the New Name & Brand Direction:

  • Maintain the rich tradition & legacy
  • Continue to honor American Indian culture
  • Speak to service, of country and community
  • Achieve evolution, but not revolution
  • Appease fans of varying opinions of the old name
  • Embrace the new without alienating the old
  • Above all else: align with the true, original brand identity

Step 4. Ideate

We started the ideation process with a whiteboarding session. In proper Design Thinking protocol, we explored openly, being sure to capture every bad, silly, and crazy idea. We then refined our ideas, paring them down to the top few based on key criteria: alignment with Brand Pillars, number of syllables (two preferred), sound following ‘Washington’ & ‘DC’, and honors American Indians & the U.S. military.

Step 4. Ideate

We started the ideation process with a whiteboarding session. In proper Design Thinking protocol, we explored openly, being sure to capture every bad, silly, and crazy idea. We then refined our ideas, paring them down to the top few based on key criteria: alignment with Brand Pillars, number of syllables (two preferred), sound following ‘Washington’ & ‘DC’, and honors American Indians & the U.S. military.

Step 5. Test

We ranked each name on crucial criteria to make our decision

  • BRAND PILLARS: Is this concept aligned with the DNA of the brand?
  • OFFENSIVENESS: How high is the risk that this name might offend a peoples?
  • ORIGINALITY: is this name already in use by other major league teams?
  • OWNER’S OPINION: how do we imagine Dan Snyder might grade this name?
  • LOGO: how easy is it to design a league-leading logo with this name?
  • COLOR: how easily is this name & logo expressed in burgundy & gold?
  • OPINION POLL: how much would this resonate with fans?

Step 5. Test

We ranked each name on crucial criteria to make our decision

  • BRAND PILLARS: Is this concept aligned with the DNA of the brand?
  • OFFENSIVENESS: How high is the risk that this name might offend a peoples?
  • ORIGINALITY: is this name already in use by other major league teams?
  • OWNER’S OPINION: how do we imagine Dan Snyder might grade this name?
  • LOGO: how easy is it to design a league-leading logo with this name?
  • COLOR: how easily is this name & logo expressed in burgundy & gold?
  • OPINION POLL: how much would this resonate with fans?

WARRIORS

Total Score: 27

CAPTAINS

Total Score: 29

TRIBE

Total Score: 27.5

BLAZERS

Total Score: 28

RED WOLVES

Total Score: 30

SPARTANS

Total Score: 30

WARRIORS

Total Score: 27

CAPTAINS

Total Score: 29

TRIBE

Total Score: 27.5

BLAZERS

Total Score: 28

RED WOLVES

Total Score: 30

SPARTANS

Total Score: 30

Breaking the Tie

Of our six final names, the Red Wolves and Spartans tied for 1st place in our ranking system. In this case, we defaulted to the Brand Pillars.
Which was more aligned with enterprising, showmanship, and Tradition?
The answer instantly became clear for us as well.

WELCOME THE WASHINGTON D.C.

SPARTANS !!

Spartans: The Right Name

  • Audibly similar, two-syllable word
  • Safe from any possibility of offending people
  • The name fits the same type of ‘human’ archetype
  • Spartan men were soldiers serving their people
  • Overlap with Redskins’ Indian-inspired aesthetic / graphical elements
  • The color palette is a perfect match
  • Most importantly: it maps extremely well to Brand Identity & Pillars

Breaking the Tie

Of our six final names, the Red Wolves and Spartans tied for 1st place in our ranking system. In this case, we defaulted to the Brand Pillars.
Which was more aligned with enterprising, showmanship, and Tradition?
The answer instantly became clear for us as well.

WELCOME THE WASHINGTON D.C.

SPARTANS!!

Spartans: The Right Name

  • Audibly similar, two-syllable word
  • Safe from any possibility of offending people
  • The name fits the same type of ‘human’ archetype
  • Spartan men were soldiers serving their people
  • Overlap with Redskins’ Indian-inspired aesthetic / graphical elements
  • The color palette is a perfect match
  • Most importantly: it maps extremely well to Brand Identity & Pillars

Step 6. Feedback

So here we are! It’s time for feedback. Once we landed on the name we did a full branding exploration. Have a look at our hypothetical rebrand and share your opinion on the social medias.

VIEW THE REBRAND

Step 6. Feedback

So here we are! It’s time for feedback. Once we landed on the name we did a full branding exploration. Have a look at our hypothetical rebrand and share your opinion on the social medias.

VIEW THE REBRAND
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