ASHBURN, Va. — The name of the Washington football team has gone from a household name to one that is considered permanent. Team president Jason Wright said fans have warmed to the organization as it gains popularity with its new image.
Mr. Wright noted that there is no lead candidate for the new name. But the fact that some fans enjoyed WFT underscores what Wright says he wants most from the name: a strong connection to the past.
Wright had previously stated and confirmed in an interview with ESPN on Tuesday that the Washington football team would be retained in 2021. He said a permanent name would be introduced in 2022.
In July, the organization announced that it would drop its old name, which it had used for 87 years.
A number of people have reached out to the Washington football team, Wright said of the contributions the organization has received. One of the things that comes out of this is that the Washington football team has something deeply connected to our history. You feel like you’re not throwing everything you’ve known in the past out the window, whereas something brand new can give that impression.
For many of our fans, it’s important to feel that this is a continuation of something rather than a complete reboot, something completely new.
Wright also said there is a chance a new name will be announced before the end of the 2021 season, but there is no timetable.
The sooner the better… That’s all I hear from the fans, he said. I would like to see it happen as soon as possible, but it is difficult to choose a time because it is a question of being thorough and rigorous and making sure that we involve all the people we need to hear from. In a way, this is against the speed, but we are going as fast as we can.
According to Wright, the team received 15,000 submissions – from 60 countries and six continents (all except Antarctica) – for a name or a new logo.
The organization is still accepting applications until the 5th. April for submission of names and logos.
Washington actively sought the opinion of fans and said the team had made the decision to keep the maroon and gold color scheme long ago based on fan opinion. ESPN reported in July that Washington would likely keep the color scheme, and nothing in the process has changed that thought.
Wright said he would be in the clubhouse Wednesday morning on social media to discuss the rebranding. The organization will produce a series called Making the Brand – a nod to the old MTV series Making the Band – to engage fans.
Wright said the rebranding goes beyond a new name and logo and includes the entire gaming experience – from entertainment to parking and concessions to tickets and the Washington Charitable Foundation. The cheerleading program has changed to a collaborative dance team – Wright said he was a dancer in a musical before switching to football – and the marching band, which also took a break, will also return in a new guise.
Wright and his team engaged with alumni, overseas fans, young fans, military personnel and long-time fans. He added that owner Dan Snyder and his wife, Tanya, are not involved in the process on a day-to-day basis, but play a similar role to the board. Snyder was a fan of the team long before he bought the franchise in 1999.
The pressure is felt from the bottom of the fan toward us, Wright said. Then it feels. I can feel it. Our whole team feels it. This fan base deserves something thoughtful that takes their input into account.
Washington will also use focus groups. Wright also listens to local sports radio and podcasts to get an idea of what others think. He is active on social media, especially Twitter.
How can I improve my image if I don’t understand the core beliefs? Wright said.
The team is nearing the end of its lease at FedEx Field after the 2027 season and could use the feedback it has gathered now when it comes to plans for a new stadium.
Part of our rebranding will relate to technology and things that Generation Z does, whether it’s legal gambling, fantasy football or VR technology, ways to engage these people socially, Wright said. The league and sports as a whole need Generation Z to stay as strong and healthy as they are today.
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