If you are not from around DC, you might view the curly W as the logo for Walgreens. However, if you live in the DC metro area, you will immediately recognize the Curly W as the symbol of the Washington Nationals, the National League Champion Washington Nationals that is (in case you have been living under a rock the last few weeks.)
A New Nationals Brand
After all, The Nationals are a relatively new franchise to DC, only arriving on the scene in 2005 from Montreal. On opening day April 14, 2005, they started anew carrying along with them the dreams of a city that had been without a baseball team for 33 years. That first season they had new players, a new logo and a new (to them) place to call home. The second-year brought on one of the most important “*new* things for the Washington Nationals, they were sold by Major League Baseball to the Lerner family.
Upon taking over the team, Ted Lerner reportedly questioned all the moves of the organization from the travel of baseball scouts to the number of bats required by the players. He undertook a long and detailed process to really understand the business of baseball. Leveraging that knowledge with his experience of running a family business, he has been able to build an organization with a strong sense of identity and culture.
On Friday, October 11th, the Washington Nationals placed reliever Daniel Hudson on the Paternity list in advance of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Many in the sports world and social media were aghast at the decision, but for the Nationals, it was a simple decision because Ted Lerner values family and that culture is pervasive throughout the organization. There was never a question that he would miss the birth of his child. After welcoming his daughter to the world, he traveled to St. Louis Saturday for Game 2 of the NLCS where he recorded his third save of the playoffs.
The Nationals organization has strengthened its own brand by aligning itself with strong local brands. This year they hosted 14 special ticketed college nights with local colleges and universities such as the University of Virginia and James Madison University. Attendees received a game ticket and a limited edition co-branded baseball cap with the Nationals Vintage logo and the school logo.
The Curly W is also associated with a family-friendly atmosphere. From their free kids meals promotion this summer to their Nursing Lounge, the Nationals organization is committed to families. When the Nursing Lounge was created in 2015 in response to an online petition, it was one of the first such rooms in professional sports.
This attention to company culture has developed over the last 15 years into the strong Washington Nationals brand it is today. To DC fans, the Curly W represents a family-friendly baseball experience from the minute you walk in the gates to their treatment of their players. Thank you Washington Nationals for giving future business leaders a roadmap of how to both be successful and do the right thing.