Let's cut to the chase here
By now, most of our fans on social media have likely seen some screenshots of the surveys we sent out. We fully expected this to happen, and I want to reiterate that the survey is not meant to be a vote — or a meaningless exercise. Instead, it’s an important step in our efforts to collect feedback on the types of names put forward by our fans and those we hope to bring into the family. (Let’s be real, I — we — have an organizational culture to keep improving, a fan experience to revamp, a stadium to refill with our fans and many other priorities; we are not here to waste anyone’s time.)
Positive reactions to categories are very helpful to us as we debate which options to take forward. Allergic reactions to categories of names are also useful, and you certainly provided those as well. Comments like “absurd” and “utter trash,” though less helpful than more thoughtfully laid out perspectives, can nonetheless be used to guide us forward. I hope the remainder of this brief helps you better understand where we are and where things are headed.
Let’s start by bringing our fans who aren’t on social media up to speed. Early last week, we sent out a number of surveys with different lists of names to a small group of fans. Getting input from our fans has been an important part of this process from the start, and that must continue to be the case. A good business is customer-oriented, and a great franchise is tapped into the pulse of its fans. We have to do it this way.
The names included in the survey are not a final or a comprehensive list.
Let me say that again: the names included in the survey are not a final or a comprehensive list. :)
Jason Wright, Washington Football Team President
As you might have seen, they take many different directions, and reading what is appealing (and appalling) to the public is helpful in that regard. Using these surveys as the sole means of selecting our new name, brand and identity, however, was never what we had in mind. We are not yet at the phase of significantly narrowing down name options, but we are moving as fast as we can. Once we have a short list of finalists, we will still need to go through the months-long work of legal wrangling, trademarking, merchandising feasibility and dozens of other uninteresting but really important steps that go into the launch of a new name. That’s why our new identity won’t be on the field until the 2022 season.
With all of that said, we know it’s nearly impossible that everyone will like the name we land on. Once we make the announcement, there will no doubt be vocal discontent alongside the excitement of those who love the new moniker. For a franchise identity that has meant so much to so many families and communities, in both positive and hurtful ways, there is no way to land a new brand without some dissatisfaction. But our hope is that our fans can understand that the final decision will be raised up by the pillars they built during this process.
I briefly touched on the five most common values our fans considered when choosing a new name in my last blog. Since I only dedicated a small amount of time to them, I felt it was worth diving into them a little bit further to remind people what you, our current and future fans, are looking for in a brand: resilience and grit, traditional, team over egos, family and unity.
One of the compliments I can give our fans is that they are full of resilience and grit. The past year has been tough on a lot of people, and there were times when we had to reevaluate our plans around life-changing events to keep people safe. On the football field, it would have been easy for Coach Rivera, as he battled cancer (we’re still #RiveraStrong), to go through the motions and mark this year up as a loss. Instead, he and the players overcame every obstacle in front of them to put together a quality product that our fans steadfastly supported through all their hardship. I also deeply admire the fans that exude energy and optimism even if they have been disappointed in the past. I saw the belief you placed in Coach to start the season rewarded as the team made a 5-2 run down the stretch. You chose faith in new leadership over cynicism, and that is the essence of resilience. I feel that same belief from many of you regarding our motives and intent with this rebrand process and am grateful for it.
Many of our fans are intimately familiar with the organization's history, which is partly why we want to incorporate some of the positive traditional aspects of our past.
Jason Wright, Washington Football Team President
This is something we have already taken steps towards accomplishing by including our alumni to help bridge our past with our future. Tim Hightower, our Director of Alumni Relations, and Doug Williams are crafting a robust Legends program that brings their voices to the forefront. As I have written before, we are not building a world-class sports and entertainment business from nothing, and the efforts of our alumni need to be celebrated and included in our new path.
The organization has embraced the idea of team over egos since Coach Rivera joined us over a year ago. It has been seen in smaller actions (the players had “team” on the backs of their jerseys in place of last names for the first part of training camp) and slogans (“No Name But Team”). This is something we want to continue once our new identity gets written in burgundy and gold ink. We received thousands of submissions from people who have an opinion on what our new name should be, but even if some of their selections don’t make the cut, we welcome and appreciate those who put their disappointment aside and continue their support for the team.
I wrote a previous blog on the idea of having a family mentality in the organization, but let me give you an overview. A healthy family is built on trust, and trust consists of credibility, reliability, personal connections and self-orientation. We try to implement these ideals by making decisions based on the best available information; being honest and following through with commitments; making sure our employees see themselves growing and developing as leaders in the organization; and orienting ourselves around improving the fan and employee experience. As fans, you trust us to deliver on our promises to you (even where we have missed the mark in the past), and we want to reward that trust.
It is obviously important for unity to be a key part of our brand. We are one team, one organization, working towards a common goal. That’s true on the football field, but it’s equally important for our off-field initiatives. The endeavors we take on should have the goal of uniting the DMV community as a cornerstone of their foundations. We saw that last year when we turned FedExField into a voting center with the intention of providing an unambiguously good, nonpartisan service. The creation of the Fan Ambassador Network (FAN), a diverse group of Washington Football fans who will serve as the voice of the fanbase and provide invaluable perspective to us, is another example; we want our fans to feel that their voices are heard, and FAN allows that to happen through the actions of one focal group.
These are the building blocks we will use to mold the identity that will last in perpetuity. “Upon these rocks we will brand our brand,” I suppose you could say. 🙂 After all, these are the values that our fanbase places in high regard, and if we adhere to them, we can ensure we will have a lasting legacy.
In other news
Speaking of legacy, this will be the last time I address you all before we add another chapter to ours during the first Washington Football Team NFL Draft.
I am also thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming fans back to FedExField for the first time this year with the Washington Draft Week ’21 Live Experience. Tickets for the event, which will be free for all fans, will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. And while we would love to have FedExField completely filled, capacity will be limited to 3,000 fans to ensure adequate space to comply with social distancing guidelines. We have designed our theme around the 1980s to commemorate a golden era in our organization’s rich history, and there will be plenty of events and prizes, so make sure you’re one of the lucky fans who will be part of this unique experience!