Written by Juan Plaza and Lauren Howard
As two born and raised Washington Football fans, we were anticipating this announcement since the Redskins name went away in July of 2020. After 87 years of tradition, the expectations were high. As a branding agency, we were excited. At 8am on February 2, 2022, we were… underwhelmed.
A brand is more than a logo. Especially with a sports franchise where the product on the field determines so much of the loyalty. The fanbase will eventually embrace The Commanders with winning.
From a visual standpoint, the name Commanders is a graphical dead end. How do you portray a Commander? Leaning into an illustration of a soldier or military leader in formal dress doesn’t generate excitement and seems insulting to what they represent. The next obvious direction to explore is stars, but for obvious reasons, that is a non-starter. A sword, maybe? That’s taken. Anything else to lean into as a mascot, to rally around as a logo, it has to be conceptual. No one wants conceptual in a sports logo.
The result appears to be inspired by military patches. But what works for those is that they are inspired by what they do. The Airforce can lean into wing forms, but by trying to incorporate all military branches, using the wing look begins to only honor one branch. The result is a lifeless stenciled W lettermark and wordmark that was admittedly focus-grouped.
We’re on a roll with our opinions so allow us to keep going! The uniforms, what a letdown. The three options don’t work together as a suite. They look like three completely different ideas with the white one looking like a thrown-out Arizona Cardinals draft. More could’ve been done. Better could’ve been done. After all the disappointment on the field these past couple of decades, the fans deserved more. The fans deserved better.
One of the first things said when the rebranding process started was the focus to make it a community team once again. From ignoring the community’s support of Red Wolves to announcing the team name in New York on the Today Show instead of a local program, where is the community? Think along the lines of the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, or the Indianapolis Colts (sorry Baltimore fans). If this had happened in a true community-backed team’s city, there would be outrage. Realistically, it would have never happened in those cities because they care about the team in a way outside researchers don’t understand.
Hometown-girl/guy feelings aside, the rollout was disappointing. We saw backlinks go live before anything was announced and logos that weren’t blurred out when teaser videos were posted. The stadium wasn’t covered to reveal updated branding and a local news chopper was able to see “Commanders” clearly in the hallway. Team stores were covered but the stadium was lit up for all to see. Sloppy. Just sloppy.
Finally, during the Today Show announcement, former Redskins QB Doug Williams (Super Bowl XXII MVP and the first Black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl) was clearly disappointed. He showed support for his team and said the fans will grow to love it but you could see in his face that he was not 100% sold.
Will we still support the team? Yes. Will we still represent in public? Yes. Is Dallas still the epitome of trash? Absolutely. As fans, we care about how this was handled and it is disappointing to see a disconnect between what the community wants and what the community got. But let’s do it, Commanders! #TakeCommand