While debate over the Washington Redskins name continues, a group of students at VCU’s Brandcenter are pitching two proposals to redefine the team’s brand.
The project, which students embraced after the team’s trademark was cancelled by the federal government last year, resulted in two rebranding ideas that are being shared on social media and proposed to team officials.
One proposal, intended to capture the team’s resiliency and toughness, as well as a bit of its history, is based on a hog mascot – the team’s offensive line was once nicknamed “The Hogs” – and would rename the team the Washington D.C. Rebels.
The second suggestion, developed by a separate group of Brandcenter students, would name the team the Navigators, aimed at evoking the leadership of the nation’s capital and encouraging the team to discover a new path.
Kelly O’Keefe, professor of brand management at the Brandcenter, said the students developed the brands with the motivation of helping the franchise move beyond the name-change debate and other controversies that have surrounded it in recent years.
“Their point of view was the fans, themselves, should lead this, and it shouldn’t be looked at as letting go of something,” he said. “It should be looked at as: How can we make an even cooler identity – something that everybody can rally around, something that could put the controversies behind us and galvanize the conviction of a new generation of fans and maybe even boosting the team to greater heights.”
O’Keefe said the project evolved from an offer he made in media interviews to Redskins owner Dan Snyder. O’Keefe said he told reporters that if Snyder needed help in rebranding the team, the students at the Brandcenter would be happy to contribute ideas for free.
“The students wanted to offer this up with goodwill,” he said, “with no expectation of any kind of compensation and without any intent to rattle anybody’s cages – but instead to say: ‘You know what? There’s a way to take the high road here and move the fans and the team forward and become leaders.’”
Snyder never called, but O’Keefe said students were undeterred in going forward with the offer.
“And to me, it’s really more in keeping with Snyder’s path,” O’Keefe said. “The guy is an innovator in other areas, and innovators are willing to let go and find a better way. So the students, with this work, are trying to encourage them to do so.”
Initial feedback from posts on social media has been positive, and O’Keefe said the results have also been shared with Redskins officials, specifically their chief marketing officer and senior vice president of sponsorships. He hasn’t heard from them, but O’Keefe said the goal is to continue to share the proposals and engage potential sponsors who could champion the ideas.
“We’re going to continue to push this more and more broadly on social media, really engage the fans and get their dialogue, and potentially engage the sponsorship community and see if they might be a participant in looking at ways to encourage the Redskins to move forward in some ways,” O’Keefe said.
The two proposals can be viewed on a website that includes information about the project and the reasoning behind the brands.
I believe they should leave the name and mascot as it is. However, if they have to change the mascot to something else then it should be changed to a potato ( redskin potatoes ). Also they could change it to a peanut ( redskin peanuts ), and with all the political nuts in Washington DC. it may be appropriate.
They are the Redskins.
If they want a new identity, they should win some games.
Anyone remember the Washington Bullets? That name change wasn’t as big of a deal as the fans thought it would be at the time.
I’m surprised that all of the proposals steer away from Native American names altogether. I think most fans would rally around a name change if it didn’t change to a different theme altogether.
I’ve read that many (some?) Native American groups think the name should change. But my understanding is that no one has a problem with it changing into some other Native American-based name.
The Civil War ended 150 years ago !!! I can’t believe the brainiacs at the Brandcenter came up with the “Rebels,” as a replacement for the Redskins.
As for Navigators, that’s an oxymoron in D.C. Magellan, and Columbus, were Navigators. What would the team navigate, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay?