We've learned a lot about our fans in the past nine months, but some of the most valuable bits of information we've discovered are all the things they have in common.
People might look at our older fans (I'm talking about the "Day 1's," the "OGs" who have supported the team for decades), Millennials and Gen Zers and see them as demographics with nothing connecting them other than the football team. To be fair, they are all different in their own ways, but these groups and others, regardless of background, share a bunch of emotions emanating from their support of the team.
This is a big reason why hearing from our fanbase during the various stages of our rebranding efforts has been, and will continue to be important to us. Part of our job has been taking all the different kinds of submissions -- whether it be from 5-year-old kids with the homemade drawings in crayon and backwards letters that make your heart melt (I'm not crying, you're crying!), the diehard fans who write long letters about their experiences or the people who clearly have a graphic design background and send in packages of uniform designs (we appreciate the flex) -- and deciphering the common threads that unite our fanbase.
We're able to do this by digging deeper into figuring out the "why" behind certain decisions (Why do fans choose one logo over the other? Why is it important that certain aspects from the past be included in the future?). We've already seen that philosophy bear some fruit in the decision to keep the burgundy and gold colors, and we'll continue to do that as we draw closer to making our final decisions. From what we've gathered so far, these are the fans' biggest common factors when choosing a new brand:
Resilience and grit: It's the old saying of, "whenever we're down, we get back up," the desire to fight and persevere regardless of the external circumstances.
Traditional: See above and last week’s blog on why keeping burgundy and gold was a decision we could stamp as "approved" early on in the process. You can also see this as a motivating force for having various alumni and their opinions in mind and involved when crafting an identity.
Team over egos: Putting the motivation for personal glory aside in favor of helping and improving the team and organization.
Unity: A feeling of "togetherness," striving towards a common goal and rooting for a team with one central message.
Family: The team has a sense of brotherhood and our passionate fanbase treats each other like a family.
This has been a unique opportunity for us to get to know our fans on an individual level. They're giving us a peek into their hearts, minds and spirits that will not only help shape this rebrand, but also allow us to become better leaders of the franchise going forward.
We want to make sure that our fans feel their voices are heard, and in order to keep to that promise in the most efficient way possible, we have created a Fan Ambassador Network (FAN), a diverse group of Washington Football fans from various walks of life who represent different intersections of our fan segmentation groups. These ambassadors will represent people who are the pillars holding up not just our organization, but also the entire DMV.
Nominated by our fanbase, these people will be experts in the key areas of our organizational rebrand and revamped gameday experience. They will serve as the voice for our fanbase on touchpoints around the organization like culture, the culinary arts, entertainment and the DMV community. I've gotten to interact with many of you informally in meaningful ways and I know how valuable those exchanges are. We need this help, badly, so please don't make me beg too many times.
The members of FAN will help drive conversations around the rebrand, and we welcome everyone, including celebrities (Shout out to Wale and his amazing team of people who already help us!), media, influencers and others, to nominate and be nominated. We want big names alongside the less known devoted, thoughtful fan who just wants to take her kids to a great gameday experience. We want this group to be an accurate representation for our entire fanbase, not a platform for a few.
We want to see who our fanbase chooses as their ambassadors, so start sending us nominations using #WashingtonFootballFAN. (We've had more than 800 submissions in the past 24 hours, including Al Roker's nomination of his co-host, Craig Melvin, on The Today Show, so keep them coming!) As always, keep those notifications turned on, and I'll be back soon with more updates!
In other news
In the meantime, we're going to keep giving you more insights into the previous/future steps of the rebrand. ("The show goes on!" as Leonardo DiCaprio would say in The Wolf of Wall Street). Last week's "Inside the Rebrand" Clubhouse meeting was hosted by Julie Donaldson and Petra Pope, who is our senior advisor for gameday entertainment. Speaking of which, we announced last week that we will be holding open auditions for our dance team on May 8. (You can check more information on our website.) We hope anyone aspiring to be part of this groundbreaking program will come out and show us what they've got!
There will also be a Clubhouse discussion tonight at 7 p.m., titled "Inside The Rebrand: Becoming A FAN," hosted by HTWeAre podcaster Maddy Crocker and featuring Joey Colby-Begovich, our vice president of guest experience, as well as senior advisor and alumnus Doug Williams. We've had a great turnout with the last two Clubhouse meetings, so be sure to join in on the conversation tonight.
Finally, we announced this morning that Natalia Dorantes will be joining our team as coordinator of football programs. Natalia will be working with all of the organization's department heads to manage the internal requests for Coach Rivera, and we fully expect her to thrive in her new position. I'm very excited to work with Natalia, as she is the latest addition to the world class team that Coach Rivera is assembling.