New brand for the NFL Washington Commanders team signals a more inclusive future, says expert
The mixed reaction from fans to the name Washington Commanders — the new identity announced Wednesday for the NFL franchise — is actually a win for the team’s leadership, says Virginia Tech expert Nneka Logan, who specializes in corporate communications and social responsibility.
“I am sure they would have loved for the brand to have been unveiled to widespread acclaim, but the worst thing would be to unveil a new brand to widespread criticism,” says Logan. “A mixed reaction to the brand means you have a good deal of support to build on.”
Logan says that taking nearly two years to select the new brand was a good idea. “It gave fans time to process the fact that a change was coming and generated excitement or at least anticipation for the new brand.”
Logan says the biggest challenge the Washington Commanders face is that their old brand was so beloved by so many people for so long that their new brand has an uphill battle in order to curry widespread favor.
“There is a sense of real loss when sports teams make major changes, so helping fans work through the feelings of loss associated with the old brand will be a challenge,” says Logan.
“The journey to becoming a beloved brand one day will likely be longer and harder for the Washington Commanders than for other organizations or products that had to rebrand such as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s because, generally, people have a much stronger emotional attachment to their sports teams than to their pancakes, syrup, or rice, so their reaction to the change is more visceral.”
The new name will build on tradition while charting new ground that signals a more inclusive future, says Logan.
“Washington Commanders projects an image of strength, clear direction, and a sense of unity that can inspire new fans, and keeping the burgundy and gold provides a sense of visual consistency that should be comforting to old fans,” says Logan. “The name also aligns well with military themes, which gives a nod to American patriotism and is appropriate for a team in our nation’s capital.”
About Nneka Logan
Logan’s expertise is focused in public relations, organizational communication, corporate discourse, race, and diversity. She worked in a variety of communication roles for a multibillion-dollar corporate organization and its subsidiaries for more than nine years, managing internal, external, and executive communication strategies, tactics, programs, and projects. Read her bio.
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