Romania’s most famous football club doesn’t have a name. The football team, formerly known as Steaua Bucharest, was stripped of its entire identity – name, colours and emblem – after losing a trademark battle with the Romanian defence ministry, who claimed the team had been illegally using the Steaua brand since 2004.
In their latest match, the former 1986 European champions were introduced as the ‘Champions of Romania’, and played in a yellow unmarked kit instead of their signature red and blue. The scoreboard identified the team only by the name ‘hosts’ and their emblem was replaced by a stark blank rectangle.
As most clubs, players and even spectators understand, brand is as important to football as it is to any other business (we recently spoke to the Football League on this very topic). But instead of customers or users, the reputation of a team rests in the loyalty of its fans. Sometimes, the opportunity to start afresh with a renewed identity can be valuable.
For example, MK Dons are a great example of how although heritage is important – it isn’t essential. The team has successfully crafted a new identity and created a family-friendly brand. Once known as Wimbledon FC, they moved from the football-team-saturated suburbs of Greater London to the relatively vacant plains of Milton Keynes in 2004 and have since developed a loyal following popular among families. So that being said, we think ‘Champions of Romania’ has quite a nice ring to it.