Before they became known as the branding geniuses responsible for naming teams like the Hartford Yard Goats and Richmond Flying Squirrels, Jason Klein and Casey White of branding firm Brandiose were two 20-year-olds working out of their college dorm room.
It was 2001 and a new arena football team in Albany, New York, needed a name, so Klein and White were tapped to come up with one. It was only the second assignment they’d ever received.
The team quickly got behind Klein and White’s concept, the Albany WarBirds. They filed for a trademark on Aug. 15 and set Sept. 12 as the day to unveil the name, logo and uniforms. Everything was all ready to go.
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When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon the day before the scheduled announcement, all parties involved agreed that the concept, which Klein described as a “weaponized airplane,” would have to go.
“I got a call the next day that basically said, ‘Hey, we gotta go back to the drawing board,’” Klein told SI.com Monday. “It wasn’t right, especially for a team from New York.”
“Everyone was on board” with the decision to start from scratch, Klein added.
“Empire” was the frontrunner for the new team name but they ran into a trademark issue, so they eventually settled on “Conquest.”
The Conquest played in Albany from 2002 to 2008. They nearly folded after the 2008 season, but were revived under the name Firebirds for one final season before eventually folding.