Thursday, June 19, 2014
The Washington Redskins are appealing the loss of trademark for their name, but the larger question is what now? What if they lose the appeal? The team's image has long been bound to the name and a picture in profile of an Indian brave. To Native Americans, both are derogatory and the federal trademark board agreed with them . This raises a reputational and positioning challenge for the team's owners. They can elect to move ahead while losing control of their brand, or they can change the name of the team, an expensive endeavor. If they do move ahead, they have a long-term PR challenge to make the name respectable again, if that is possible. It is unlikely that American Indians will eventually consider the name "Redskins" as a compliment. College teams have already changed their names to accommodate the sensitivity of Native Americans. So there is precedent for a new name. The question is whether the Redskin's owners see it that way.