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Phillies! Wizards! Sports Teams Have Nicknames. Maybe Your Business Should, Too

By Bill Higgs

Many of us identify – sometimes rabidly – with a favorite sports team.

Maybe you cheer for the Lakers. Or the Cowboys. Or the Lightning.

Regardless, just by invoking the team name and wearing team gear, you associate yourself with a particular group. When you see someone else wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with your team’s name in large, all-capital letters – HEAT, SAINTS, RED SOX – you instantly feel a connection and know that you and they share a common bond.

Unlike professional sports teams, most companies don’t have an identifying team name that everyone can rally around. Employees aren’t Vikings, or Cardinals, or Celtics, or Flyers. They are just employees.

Businesses might want to rethink that, though.

At Mustang Engineering, the company I helped found, we wanted our people to feel that they belonged to something different and special. So, we created a team name that helped give us an identity. All our employees were “Mustangers” and we found that referring to ourselves by that fun name had a huge impact.

It felt like we were all members of a club that other people should want to be a part of and being called a Mustanger was just one additional ingredient in creating a corporate culture that made everyone involved feel as if, by working together, they could do anything.

Just like those sports teams, we even branded our logo on all sorts of items that we gave out to the Mustangers.

Of course, Mustanger was more than just a cool name. In our view, Mustanger also represented a way of thinking and a way of acting. Just what did it mean to be a Mustanger? A Mustanger was the kind of person who wants to serve others, do high-quality work, collaborate, and have fun while doing it. Mustangers also gave back to the community because they understood that life isn’t all work.

That’s why I recommend that you consider creating a team nickname that can make your employees feel that they are joined together in a common cause. That nickname can play off your actual company name, as ours did, or it can be something else entirely. Think about what that name will represent, what traits will be associated with it.

And when you come up with your name, don’t hesitate to go all the way with the sports team analogy. Create a motto, a logo, a song, a cheer, traditions. Dream up your version of the Steelers’ Terrible Towel if you like.

It all adds to the fun and sense of belonging that can help make your company the place where everyone wants to work.