The National Football League's St. Louis Rams franchise is officially moving to Los Angeles. Two days ago, NFL voters approved the Rams' application to move to Los Angeles by a vote of 30-2. The Rams will move to Los Angeles in time for the start of the 2016 regular season, but will likely play in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum until a permanent home is built in Inglewood.
Winning approval of NFL owners was necessary for the Rams to relocate to Los Angeles. Now, what must the team do as it prepares to enter one of the largest media markets in the U.S.?
Let the Branding Begin!
The Rams organization must treat these important moments leading up to the start of the 2016 NFL season much like a startup company. While there is equity built in the NFL and the Rams brand name, for all intents and purposes, this is a brand new organization with a new demographic to attract.
There is no time to wait in beginning to brand the new Los Angeles Rams franchise, which must, to an extent, be set apart from the St. Louis club and positioned to excite fans in a new market, despite a dismal 7-9 record in 2015.
Rams executives should be thinking of ways to use the NFL Playoffs, and in particular the Super Bowl 50 (based in San Francisco, within close geographical range to Los Angeles) to market the team to those in California who may be looking for a new rooting interest.
No Waiting to Pitch Corporate Sponsors
The procurement of partners is important for the longevity of businesses in many industries, including franchises within the NFL. The Rams need to strike at the opportunity to build off the buzz of a move to Los Angeles and begin to establish corporate relationships. That is especially true with the San Diego Chargers and possibly the Oakland Raiders having the potential to join the Rams in the not-so-distant future.
The addition of the Chargers and/or Raiders could create competition for the Rams, which currently hold the key to the city of Los Angeles.
This is no longer a team stuck in the middle of the U.S. The Rams are in a sports market long claimed to be too large for the NFL not to be a part of. The league brings in roughly $10 billion in revenue per year. It is time for the Rams to contribute a bit more to the bottom line.
Will the Rams Totally Depart From its St. Louis Past?
The Rams undoubtedly wish to do away with losing records, but will the organization also leave behind its name, logo, uniforms, colors and other insignia that helped identify it in years past?
There is cause for arguing against a full re-branding of the Rams. The organization was actually tied to Los Angeles for roughly five decades before moving to St. Louis. Much of the organizational features have remained the same throughout; thus, there may not be a cause for such climactic change at this stage of the game.
The main reason for a drastic departure from existing features denoting the Rams would be to show the general public that this team is unlike what it was in the recent past. It could turn into a passion point for new fans; however, the risk of losing positive, existing affiliations likely overwhelms the potential benefit of completely forgetting about the past.