If you were super excited about the new women's professional soccer league and the possibility of its long-term success, you may want to take a step back. The new league may still be a success -- it is too early to bury it considering it hasn't even played a match -- but everything in the way of marketing and PR so far is as discouraging as possible.
On Saturday night, the league finally got a name, the National Women's Soccer League. That is five unimaginative and unremarkable syllables, and it was released on a Saturday night to boot. The timing was an effort to pair it with the United States team's friendly, but Saturday night is still a good time to be anonymous. The only good news is that it did come paired with a decent logo.
Unfortunately, the team logos weren't nearly as good. They were exact replicas of logos from past, failed leagues, and those were the good ones (Portland aside, whose logo is fantastic.). The others, Kansas City's in particular, were laughable. Meanwhile, Seattle still doesn't have a team name or logo to keep the impression that the league is still under construction intact, which may be true, but isn't something you want to project.
The problem for the NWSL so far is not just names or logos, but the regularity with which they have botched their PR and marketing since the project got underway. The league announced specifics of how the league would operate without a league name or team names, failing to build a brand early on. They have let out info in pieces, keeping them from a big announcement that draws the attention of the prospective converts and spreading things out so much that even those who don't need to be converted lose interest.
Saturday night was just more of the name. They handed a press release to reporters at the match so news of the league name leaked before it was revealed on TV and the league also launched its Twitter account, which is @NWSL_soccer, instead of the dormant @NWSL. Toss in the league name and logos, which are underwhelming at best, and it was a bad night for the newly christened NWSL.
If Saturday night was anomaly, it wouldn't be a major concern, but this has been the norm for the league so far. The league has still yet to make a big PR move to draw attention, but it has slowly driven some away with their inability to build excitement. Their failings in this area cannot be ignored either, especially after WPS had a solid product on the field, but failed to generate excitement off of it, and the NWSL doesn't know if the even have good soccer yet.
The start of the NWSL is still three months away from its first match so the time to panic is still a long ways off. The league's model, which depends on federations to pay the best players, is still excellent and it should remain viable through the 2015 Women's World Cup. Some missteps are hardly going to kill the league and it can still be very, very successful so there is no need to look for the cliff, but the league will need to build excitement and right now, the league is acting as its own wet blanket.