Our rebranding process when we needed to re-name our team

Have you considered changing the name of your team or program? The time may be right if you have gone through a big change. Or if your current team name does not reflect who you are as a brand. 
 
Changing your team name can seem complicated. If not done well, the rebranding process may create even more confusion. Yet, if it is not done at all then you will continue to build your brand under the wrong identity. This will make changing your name harder to do later.
 
But changing your name does not have to be confusing or extra complicated. With a good plan outline, you can make sure that you present your new name in a way that will make sense to everyone.
 
This is the story of how we re-named Select Basketball from its previous name, Idaho Select. It lays out why we did it and how we are executing our plan.

Why make a change

We were approaching the summer of 2014. We knew there were a lot of talented basketball players in the state of Montana. We had worked with Montana players in the past and had always had a great experience.
 
Here was the issue. The NCAA adjoining state rule restricted the number of non-Idaho players on our roster. To get beyond this issue, we needed to extend our program to also have a base in Montana.
 
Setting up a new base for our program is a major commitment. We knew that gaining traction in Montana would be difficult. In Montana, few people knew who we were are and our brand was based around Idaho. Bringing an Idaho program to Montana was confusing at best. It may have even been insulting to some.
 
But the players and families of Montana were worth it. We believed we could make it work.

How we are re-naming our brand (the rebranding process)

The first step was to introduce our program to stakeholders in Montana and listen to their feedback. We felt this was an important part of building trust. We wanted to understand more about the Montana mindset and lifestyle before jumping in with a new program.
 
Then we started to integrate with Montana using some of our advantages.

The plan and rebranding process

One of our advantages is that our network of coaches expands across the country. We had a good base of influencers in Montana. Our other big advantage was that we had already worked with talented Montana players. This gave us at least a small track record of success that we could lean on.
 
Here is what we did:
 
  1. Convince the three best players in Montana to play for our top team in the summer of 2014. This would help us the following year by validating that our program works with the best players.
    • SIDE NOTE: in a random circumstance, we ended up with a year long sponsorship with Anthony Davis. He was very generous and provided a bunch of Nike gear, jerseys, etc. for our team. That year our top team was Anthony Davis Select. There were pros and cons with this – a future post on this is coming.
  2. The summer went well. We created Montana Select Basketball and many Montana based teams for the summer of 2015. We ran this program like the Idaho program, hosting tryouts in May in both Missoula and Billings. Additionally, we built a website for Montana players and worked with the state’s biggest newspapers to get the word out.
  3. We identified and worked with the top coaches in Montana. Several Montana coaches became the head coaches of our teams. They were instrumental in getting out the word and advocating for us.
  4. In 2016 we began spring play with some Montana players. This continued to show our commitment to the players in Montana. Montana teams continued to grow in the summer of 2016.
  5. In the spring of 2017 we continued to integrate Montana and Idaho players. But we started to introduce the concept of a unified Select Basketball program. We were eliminating separate Idaho and Montana programs. We provided several teams with rebranded jerseys. Our teams were entered in to tournaments as Select Basketball.
  6. By the summer of 2017, all teams were Select Basketball. We were still bound by NCAA adjoining state rule so teams still have most players from the same state. But the message is now much clearer that we are all one program.

Work still to be done

So far the re-naming and rebranding process has gone well.
 
In 2017 we started the process of changing over all our marketing channels to Select Basketball. The initial changes began with social media like Instagram and Twitter. We also utilized two summer projects to further drive home the new name. [Be sure to stay tuned for updates on #select20in20 and Facebook Live reviews]
 
Facebook name changes are more challenging than Twitter or Instagram. Before the summer Facebook denied our requested name change. They have strict requirements to ensure others do not try and trade on your name.
 
So we will start the proving process that they need. It involves changing our website URL. Plus, we will make some updates with the Secretary of State. This will show that we own Select Basketball.
 
The most difficult change may be switching over our email addresses. Going from @idahoselect.org to @selectbasketballusa.com may be very tough. We’ve used the original address for over 10 years. Thousands of people use it including coaches, players, parents, sponsors and media.
 
There are a few other areas we will need to work out. We still refer to ourselves as Idaho Select on occasion. And every once in a while I still find some Idaho Select branding in random places.
 
But we have a good plan. And the confusion, to this point, has been very minimal. The benefit of being a brand that now has wider borders will pay off in the future.