John Keim wrote an article for ESPN titled Washington Commanders: Inside the NFL franchise’s search for a new nickname and logo.

« Starting shortly after he was hired in August 2020, Wright and his team had to sift through 40,000 submissions by fans that led to 1,200 name ideas… Then, in April, Wright sent a letter to fans asking for their input on 30 names. »

« In September, the team purchased a handful of domains and trademarks of names they knew would be finalists, including Commanders. They wanted to limit, or beat, trademark squatters. Still, they ended up buying a handful of names from squatters. »

« By this point, the franchise had close to a dozen fully designed brands covering the finalists. Each one had a logo, a wordmark, a manifesto, its own typeface and font and apparel and gear. »

« Among the names they researched heavily: The Washington, D.C. Football Club and the RedWolves. There were problems with both. The DCFC was heavily considered, and they even designed logos. They wanted to play off the temporary Football Team name. But during the trademark search, they discovered there was a professional soccer team in Michigan called the Detroit City Football Club — DCFC — that had the colors burgundy and gold, same as Washington… With the RedWolves, a popular choice on social media, they kept running into roadblocks. Every time they would design a wolf logo, the trademark lawyers — internal and external — would warn of issues. Often it was because the logo looked too much like others already in use. Sometimes the angle of the profile was too close to another. Finding a way to make it distinct became difficult. »

« They did not want a situation like the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, which announced its name change last July and soon became embroiled in a lawsuit — since settled — with a roller derby team in the city that used the same name.  »

« Another factor: There was already a Timberwolves in the NBA, and Arkansas State is known as the Red Wolves. »

« Washington met with multiple tribal leaders…. It often broke down along generational lines — the older they were, the more likely they were against the change.  »

« Once the team settled on a name, Nike’s Best in Class design team worked on the uniform. The team received three uniform designs and plans to add a fourth in 2024, with fan involvement, Wright said. »

« “One thing Nike does is they focus on the young consumer,” said Marc Reeves, a former head of brand at Nike who is now with Relo Metrics. “All the research I’ve ever seen on the younger generation says it’s more than just a sport… People take this seriously. It’s incredibly important to a community. As polarizing as Washington is, sports is one of the rare things that unifies. It’s critically important to get this right.” »


Related reading:

Brand Naming by Rob Meyerson

Intellectual Property Law: Legal Aspects of Innovation and Competition by Kurt M. Saunders, J.D., LL.M.

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