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NBA in OKC: Still searching for the perfect nickname

By Darnell Mayberry Published: July 17, 2008
Lions and Tigers and Bears...all gone!

When it comes to Oklahoma City's yet-to-be-named NBA franchise, a for-sure, can't-miss nickname is difficult to come by. Marketing experts say the easy choices are already taken, long ago gobbled up by the hundreds of professional franchises.

But options remain.

"Now you kind of get down to a name that fits who you are and where you are,” said Vince Orza, dean of the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University.

Good names, Orza said, are terms that are positive, short, easy to spell and easy to pronounce. The best ones also reflect strength and characterize the team's region.

"You kind of want a fun term also,” Orza said. "Four letter names are always the best if you can get them. If you think about it, Ford, Oreo, Coke, the reason those names are so successful is they're easy to say, easy to remember and easy to spell.

"Simple means bigger, and the bigger you can get it on a uniform and cap the easier it is to see the image and the impression of the name.”

Tom Fugleberg, executive creative director at Minneapolis-based Olson, a sports branding and ad agency, said it's most important for Oklahoma City's nickname to reflect the region.

"It might take more mining to come up with something unique, but Oklahoma City is a very unique place,” Fugleberg said. "Geography is important. It's important that they try not to think of a name that's necessarily going to be popular in the NBA but popular in their city.”

That's precisely what the Toronto Raptors did, said Dan Rascher, president of Oakland, Calif.-based SportsEconomics, a sports economics, finance and marketing research firm.

The Raptors, who began as an expansion team in 1995, were named in 1994, one year after the release of the hit movie "Jurassic Park.”

"Dinosaurs were more popular 15 years ago,” Rascher said. "But you look down the road 10 or 20 years later and it's not so exciting.”

Animals, however, generally are good options.

Blog: Darnell Mayberry picks his favorite NBA nicknames

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