Last year the University of North Dakota changed their team name from the Fighting Sioux to the Fighting Hawks upsetting some fans for the usual reasons. But among others who might be disappointed should be the UND marketing folks charged with raising the profile of the university.
UND missed a real opportunity to create a buzz-worthy name with greater marketing legs. And while we won’t suggest any names here we can outline the criteria that UND should have considered in developing a name that might have raised their profile, generated news coverage, and produced sales revenue among other positive outcomes.
Competitive Differentiation: A S.W.A.G might conservatively estimate the number of teams with the name “hawk” in the hundreds. Including other raptors, other birds, and other common fauna that number must approach the low four figures. UND missed an opportunity to separate itself from the crowd.
Halo Effect: A name has a powerful impact on the brand image especially during the launch phase. A cool name suggests a cool identity. A creative name suggests a creative company, product or place. A name that embodies both these values suggest hardworking and caring people with vision. Conversely a simple, default, generic name tells the world that you don’t care much about the values of innovation, public relations and marketing best practices.
Cool Factor: Let’s face it, recruiting high school students to attend a rural or otherwise small town, out of the way university is a tough job. But in some small way, one can imagine it might be just a bit easier with a team name that was inspiring, aspirational, innovative or otherwise more engaging.
Lost Revenue: The upside of a name change is the sales from fans, locals, students, alumni, and others wanting the latest team wearables. This is the minimum market yet misses a broader audience: Those people with no connections to UND but have a desire to associate with a brand that aligns with their identity. That brand could be innovative, iconic, irreverent, retro, curious, positively controversial, or even just plain dumb in a reverse snob sort of way.
Anything but common and ordinary.