RICHMOND — How was it that the Cleveland Indians — check that, the Cleveland Guardians — released a new name before the Washington Football Team?
If you’re a Washington fan, you’ve probably asked yourself that question after Cleveland announced its rebrand this month — a process that started a full five months after Washington announced it was undergoing a search for a new name.
Washington team President Jason Wright seems to understand the sentiment, nodding when asked point-blank about the difference in the rollout. But for Washington, Cleveland unrolling a new name first may not be a bad thing: He said the team will watch closely to gauge the response Cleveland receives, as well as monitor the problems Cleveland might face in the months ahead before Washington unveils a new identity.
“It helps they got out in front of us because we can see some of the things that go down,” Wright told The Washington Times last week. “They’ve done, in my opinion, a really good job of ingesting things from their fans and quickly turning something around. And I know that for them, they really wanted to be on the other side of it and do the hard work of just engaging fans and building community. And that’s a great strategy.
“That’s a great strategy. And ours is just different than that.”
Washington’s search has lasted for more than a year, going through different steps in a rebranding process. Wright has consistently maintained the team won’t introduce a new name until other components — such as trademarks, logos and jerseys — are finalized. But the team is making progress.
Wright said last week that the team has “substantially” narrowed the list of options, declining to say how many names are in the running. But the team has begun crafting logos and designs for the “small set of names” that the franchise is leaning toward.
Wright told the Times that he hopes the team will provide an extended look into why the process has gone on this long, when the rebrand is completed. The team releases its own promotional videos that offer a behind-the-scenes look, and Wright said the organization plans to share the challenges that have extended the saga “as open as we’re able to be.”
Since Cleveland introduced the Guardians, others have noted the overlap between the existing Cleveland-based roller derby team called the “Cleveland Guardians.” The roller derby team holds the domain name for its website, and a Delaware-based law firm holds the trademark for the Cleveland Guardians. Both teams have reportedly declined to comment on the situation.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported last week that there was “no problem” with the baseball team in securing the trademark. The baseball team’s trademark application was posted on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website last month.
Regardless, Washington appears to be taking its time to avoid exactly that type of situation. The team plans to introduce the new name next year.
“if we take our time, if we vet everything, if we trust all the great folks on our team, then we should have all that stuff buttoned up,” Wright said.
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