Rebranding the Cleveland Indians

“Everyone talks about getting rid of Chief Wahoo but nobody does anything about it.”

That’s how a recent NBC Sports article starts. A moment later, though, it turns its focus to some very cool work my son-in-law has done that envisions a different approach to a “problem” the Cleveland Indians: primarily how do they edge their controversial mascot out the door while retaining the whole “Indians” moniker.

No, this post is not about whether they should change their name or not. This post is about possibilities that open up if they did choose to go with a full-on rebrand. And mostly, this is a post about something one guy did to show what those possibilities might be. The fact that this guy happens to be my son-in-law is only tangential, but screw it, I’ll take all the credit I can for my daughter’s selection of a guy who is, among other things, great with this kind of thing. Bottom line is that Nick Kendall (Brigid’s hubby and the guy highlighted in that NBC article), sat down and spent a helluva lot of time thinking through the problem. He lived in Cleveland for much of his life, and he gets history. He loves history and tradition, and he understands deeply the connection teams have with places. In other words, this is not just some knock-off that some progressive-minded guy did to tweak the noses of those who want to cling to a past that has clear racist overtones. This is the work of a guy who cares.

He’s written it up in a post that describes the care he’s taken to build a brand that would be awesome. And I mean that totally. I’m willing to bet he would license his work to the Cleveland front office for half the grub they would pay a New York firm to do a hack-job…then maybe he could turn to the Braves, and please, please, please, the Redskins.

I’ve occasionally thought we should start a petition to rebrand the “Washington Redskins” as the “Washington Congress.” It solves the basic problem, focuses the name on a major element that defines the city, and has the added benefit of letting us say “The Patriots beat the Congress today by a vote of 52-3.”

Okay, sorry about that. I promised this wasn’t that kind of post but it just got away from me there.

Regardless of what you think about the idea of rebranding, though, you have to admit that (1) Nick’s done some amazing work here, and that (2) it’s nice to see that kind of work put forward on a bigger canvas.

The other thing that comes to mind is that this approach is great because, as I said before, it opens your mind to the idea of focusing on the real root of a city. A true rebrand of the Cleveland franchise allows one to take a totally different approach, plum the area for things that are meaningful to a whole of the population, or that are at least not off-putting to a fair chunk of it. Perhaps you love this rebrand as much as I do, or maybe you don’t. But the idea opens up lots of avenues, and I like the approach of showing the possible because it changes the focus of the conversation from pointing out problems to focusing on opportunities. But, yeah, I think the uniforms are spiffy.

Very cool.

Yes, very cool indeed.

The whole thing just makes me smile.

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