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The Business Case for Changing the Name of the Washington Redskins

Redskins fans cheer against the Dallas Cowboys
Redskins fans cheer against the Dallas CowboysPhotograph by Larry French/Getty Images

Earlier this week, 10 members of Congress sent a letter to Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder asking him to change the name of his football team because it’s a racial slur against American Indians. It’s a good argument, but apparently not compelling to Snyder, who has vowed never to budge on the team’s name. Setting aside the offense to millions of people, Snyder is missing an opportunity for profit. “I think in the worst case it would be a break-even over a three- to five-year period,” says Allen Adamson, managing director of Landor Associates, the branding shop that helped Andersen Consulting make the switch to Accenture. “The financial excuse is not a good excuse.” Here is how a name change could be a good thing for the franchise:

1. It makes news. The reason companies usually avoid name changes is because they lose the associations consumers have with the old brand and then have to pay to build up awareness for the new one. This is not a problem for the Redskins. Washington is one of 32 teams in the most popular league in the country: Nobody is going to wonder where the franchise went. “If the Redskins decide to change their name,” says Derrick Daye, managing partner of branding consultant the Blake Project, “no matter what day of the week they did, it’s going to be the top news.” This is free media—and better than the kind the team is getting now. “It creates news,” Adamson says. “It creates interest. It will draw people in.”