Brad Angell knows better than most how important a brand can mean to an organization. For the past 17 years, he's been designing logos as a marketing design specialist for Image Pointe, so he has a deep history of making companies stand out among the rest.
Being unique is only a starting point, particularly when it comes to an NFL team. Everything has to work cohesively, from the colors to the logos, in order to craft something that best represents the organization. And, most importantly, they have to be things that people and are proud to represent.
That challenge is part of what the Washington Football Team faces as it works through searching for a new identity. The organization, which has existed for nearly nine decades, has been tasked with balancing its respect for the past while also forging something new. It's a needle that Angell wants to help the team thread as the fashion leader of the Fan Ambassador Network (FAN).
"There's a long history with Washington," Angell said. "I think it's important to not just lose it in the rebrand, but to tie that into it a little bit."
Like most Washington fans, Angell is intimately familiar with how important that tradition is. He grew up in Iowa, which meant there was plenty of corn for miles around and no local NFL teams to root for. He wasn't necessarily looking for an NFL team, but as he got older and started playing more Madden, he was drawn to the burgundy and gold.
Angell started paying more attention to Washington in the early 2000s during the days when Santana Moss was leaving defensive backs in the dust and Chris Cooley was slipping past linebackers. Clinton Portis was one of his favorites, though, because of his personality and running style, which routinely resulted in 1,000-yard seasons.
At the same time, Angell was honing his passion for drawing. He's been more in touch with his creative side for most of his life, and that led to him getting a degree from Hawkeye Community College in Graphic Communication & General Studies. He got a job as a senior graphic artist shortly after graduation and three years later he also started his own company, Angell Graphics.
As a graphic artist, Angell would help design bumper stickers as well as t-shirts, and he said it was also a great feeling to go out of state and see his designs worn by other people. That should happen even more frequently now that he's in his new role as a marketing design specialist at Image Pointe, as he has played a pivotal role in the company designing its own apparel industry by designing labels and helping with the shirt cuts.
"It's fun because you get to do lots of different stuff," Angell said. "Every day is a little bit different in terms of what you're designing."
Angell wants to use that experience as a fan ambassador to help influence the merchandise and gear that Washington wants to sell as part of its rebranding efforts. He wants to serve as a voice for the broader fanbase, which has made it clear that a blend of old and new traditions is important. The retention of the burgundy and gold colors is part of that and something Angell views as important.
But the most pivotal aspect of Washington's merchandise, whatever it looks like, should consist of things that fans want to display for everyone to see. That's an area where Angell feels his services will be of good use.
"They're really going to feel pride in wearing it," Angell said. "It's important to have that sense of ownership and pride in your team."
When Washington does finally reveal its new identity, it will be a chance for the team to reintroduce itself to the rest of the NFL. It'll also be an opportunity for fans to represent the franchise they love and persuade people to join the burgundy and gold.
The Washington franchise, Angell said, is a brand just like the other NFL teams as well as the companies that he has worked with. The blend and cohesions of colors and the logo itself are an integral part of making an ideal fan experience. And, of course, the brand should be a unifying symbol for the entire fanbase, no matter where they're representing the team.
"To really represent that city and that team," Angell said, "I think it's important to have a look that you're proud of, something that looks good, that you wear and something that you want to be a part of."