The National Football League (NFL) season is in full swing, and football is once again dominating American’s weekends. In fact, according to Sports Media Watch, over 22.7 million people watched at least one NFL game last weekend. Although primarily considered a leisure time activity, one can learn a lot about naming from football.
One of the most important activities a new business must undergo is creatively naming their company. A name and the resulting persona will be linked for the duration of the business. Understanding the persona you want to create for your business can help you choose a name that fits the needs of your business and puts you in a position to maximize your future success.
Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent NFL team names and explore how such strategies can help you understanding the naming process.
Many football teams choose monikers that conjure up thoughts of strength or might. The following teams have taken advantage of the connotations of their names to create strong and formidable personas:
Like many teams, Atlanta held a contest when trying to decide on a name for their team. Julia Elliott won the contest and the Falcons were born. In her competition entry, Elliott wrote that “The falcon is proud and dignified, with great courage and fight. It never drops its prey. It is deadly and has a great sporting tradition.” Since then, the Falcons have taken their place at the top of the NFL and their fans have eagerly adopted the Falcon persona.
Panthers team president Mark Richardson chose the Panthers nickname because, “it’s a name our family thought signifies what we thought a team should be – powerful, sleek, and strong.” The runner-up in last year’s Super Bowl, the team has assumed that identity and is considered one of the strongest teams in the NFL – definitely powerful, sleek, and strong.
When deciding on a team name, officials in Detroit eventually settled on Lions. As the team explained it, “The lion is the monarch of the jungle, and we hope to be the monarch of the league.” There is no disputing that the lion is considered King of the Jungle. Choosing this name gave Detroit the opportunity to create a persona that lives up to the animal’s elevated status.
Based on Greek mythology, a “titan” is a person of great size and strength. It is a perfect name for a team that wants to create a God-like persona. When the Titans names was chosen, team president said that, “We wanted a new nickname to reflect strength, leadership, and other heroic qualities.”
Some teams choose a name that gives credit to the heritage and ancestry of their city in an attempt to create an emotional connection with their fans. Your name should attempt to do the same thing. Choosing a business name that appeals to your customers’ sensibilities will enable you to forge long-lasting, mutually beneficial bonds.
Upon joining the NFL, the Minnesota Board of Directors chose a name that combines heritage and strength. They decided on the Vikings because the name “represented both an aggressive person with the will to win and the Nordic tradition of the northern Midwest.” As a result of the emotional connection the moniker fostered, Vikings fans are some of the most passionate in the league.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints have enjoyed success both on and off the field. The team has managed to create an unshakable bond with the city of New Orleans and much of that connection started with the name. Chosen by team owner John Mecom, the Saints name was a nod to the city’s jazz heritage and the popular song, “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Pittsburgh is another city that used a contest to choose their team’s name. The winner was a worker at a mill for Pittsburgh Steel named Joe Santoni. By choosing the name Steelers, the team was able to show respect for the hard-working men and women that made Pittsburgh’s steel industry run. The gritty nature of the steelworkers inevitably rubbed off the team, who made that type of hard-nose grinding attitude their persona. Likewise, Pittsburgh Steelers fans are some of the toughest in the league.
The Seahawks are another team that chose a name based on a combination of strength and heritage. Upon choosing a moniker, team officials remarked, “Our new name suggests aggressiveness, reflects our soaring Northwest heritage, and belongs to no other major league team.”
Some team names have come under scrutiny as racial considerations take center stage across the country. The Washington Redskins are one example. Because of the objections of several Native American tribes, who feel the name is disrespectful to their ancestral heritage, the Redskins have been the target of several protests and demonstrations. Although the team has repeatedly said that they will not change the Redskins name, the controversy appears far from over.
As you begin the process of choosing a name for your business, make sure you consider all angles and possible ramifications. A business that is aligned with controversy faces a difficult road, a journey many don’t survive.
Naming your business should be a decision that is taken very seriously. Take the time to consider the implications your moniker will bring to your business. What do you want your company persona to be? What do you want your name to say to potential customers? Do you want to be a Titan that rules the industry, or do you want your name to carry a deeper and more personal connotation like the Saints? Considering all the possibilities before you jump in will enable you to create a name that is right for you and your business.