Maybe its fitting that at a time when we’re bidding a long goodbye to the Sonics, a team that by name is tied to our industrial Boeing past, we’re also saying hello to the new Seattle Sounders FC, which use the Space Needle as their central totem.

The Sonics were like the Detroit Pistons (car industry) or the Green Bay Packer (meat packing), they referred back to a past that was relevant when the team was named. Not so much relevant now. Since the Sonics, we’ve had the Mariners (sailors, we still have sailors, don’t we?) and Seahawks (an imaginary sea bird).

While the Sounder are the second oldest surviving name in Seattle pro-sports history (Mariners and Seahawks came after the 1974 original Sounders), its a name vague enough to stand rebranding. And, it was rebranded in a very interesting, post-Microsoft, 1990s Seattle way.

Read this section of Selling Seattle for my back up. If you are marketing Seattle, and you need a quick imagery reference to tell people that you’re in Seattle, you use the Needle. You don’t use Mt. Rainier (not enough people know that mountain from any other mountain) and you don’t use ferries or just a shot of the Sound. Might was well be UP Michigan.

So, as the Needle is an image of Seattle, the nature of the team, its identity is sort of open for definition. What is a Sounder, anyway?