If your brand name is telling an inappropriate story—possibly even offending or angering people in your audience—would you want to change it?
The answer seems obvious. But recent news stories suggest that intransigence and a tin ear sometimes trump ethics and common sense.
Yes, I’m talking about the Washington Redskins (football) and the Cleveland Indians (baseball), long-established names once again making news for something other than athletic feats. I’m also talking about a newer, smaller brand that’s been in hot water for reasons that may not be apparent to non-Hawaiians: Hula, an app for promoting STD awareness and prevention.
“Redskins” is a slur against Native Americans. “Indians” is more neutral, but the team mascot, “Chief Wahoo,” is a cringe-inducing cartoon stereotype.
Chief Wahoo, mascot of the Cleveland Indians.
And hula is much more than grass skirts and undulating hips: to native Hawaiians it’s a sacred ritual.