Sports Team Naming: Las Vegas Sun Interview on NHL Expansion Team Brand

Nov 292016
 

las-vegas-sunSports team naming is a high stakes job. Doing it right makes creates millions of dollars in brand value. Doing it wrong leads to low recognition and low fan engagement, leading to low revenue and value. Naming the NHL expansion team in Las Vegas the “Vegas Golden Knights” is a missed brand opportunity. (Read part of my interview in the Las Vegas Sun).

The “Golden Knights” name is empty of associations with hockey or Las Vegas. It conjures images of medieval Europe, not a vibrant oasis in the dessert known for fun and risk taking. A name like Baltimore’s “Ravens” is an example of naming done right. It resonates with the city’s history with Edgar Alan Poe, is absolutely unique, and engages fans. The “caw-caws” on game day are a testament to that. A strong brand name would help the team earn bigger licensing dollars and sell more fan merchandise. Golden Knights is unlikely to do either.

team name golden knightsThe value of a brand is worth protecting, which brings up the trademark issue. The Golden Knights name is best known as the name for the U.S. Army Parachute Demonstration Team–but they never trademarked it. Brand names can be shared and used by multiple companies, so Vegas Army Golden Knights now share their name with other teams–The College of St. Rose and the University of Central Florida.

The first goal of a name is to signal a unique brand. A name with no resonant associations makes achieving that goal harder to accomplish. No matter how much money the team spends to build the Golden Knights brand, it will always be bland. Better to call the team “The John Does.”
Suggest some better ideas, like:
  • Antelopes–or indigenous name Tatokes
  • Ozuye–Hopi word for warrior
  • Big Horns
  • Red Rocks
  • Gilas
  • Tohos–Hopi word for mountain lion/powerful hunter
  • Arroyos
© 2014 Lisa Merriam