JAX USL getting closer to team name and brand for pro soccer team

Branding expert Erika Bjork speaks to fans of JAX USL as the pro soccer club develops its brands for the men's and women's team scheduled to begin play in 2025. (JAX USL 2023)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mauricio Ruiz admits that he’s anxious to be able to share the name of the new pro soccer teams coming to Jacksonville. But for now, there is more listening to do.

Ruiz, the former Jacksonville University men’s soccer coach, who was hired to handle technical and business development goals for JAX USL says the name and brand could be announced in the next two or three months.

On Tuesday, JAX USL welcomed some future fans to the team’s headquarters during a listening session led by branding consultant Erika Bjork. Each step is one closer to defining the teams’ name (or names, it is possible the men’s team and women’s team could have different brands).

“We want to make sure that our personal biases aren’t the only thing that we’re listening to here in our front office and in our leadership group,” Ruiz said. “We’re also bringing in experts to really help us with what we think is one of the most important decisions that we will make as a club, to brand ourselves in a way that identifies our community, our people, our place, and currently how soccer and the city is represented within our crest. So that was what the process was like the last four or five days, we brought in an expert to help us guide us a little bit and either validate some of the things that we have already been discussing or point out some blind spots that maybe we hadn’t contemplated yet.”

Some of the salient points the club is considering in the naming process include the diversity of the population of the area and the varied length of residency of the populace.

“We’ve all made Jacksonville our home. Some of us have been here for a decade, and we’ll be here for much longer than that,” Ruiz said. “But typically everyone that comes here loves being in Jacksonville for the nature, for the outdoor capability that he brings, but for the weather and for the people as well. So that’s something that was really, really clear in her process.”

Some cities have an obvious unifying thread that defines the city. Think Boston with its Revolutionary history or New Orleans with its Jazz and Creole influences. Jacksonville is more of a melting pot than many cities, adding complexity to the project.

“We don’t have one single identifier as a city,” Ruiz said. “Some cities have that low-hanging fruit. We are a little bit more of a diverse city, which makes that challenge even greater for us as a group to identify which does unify us and what represents as well.”

Perhaps the only more important decision that will be made this year by the club is the site for the stadium--a process that is still ongoing.

“It’s a massive decision,” Ruiz said. “It’s a decision that we want to be delicate with and we want to be mindful and have the listening ears to be able to listen to our community. So not only what we got from Erika and her process, but really the feedback that we had several different listening sessions that we have been able to orchestrate.”

It’s a deliberate process, but one that should come to an end later this spring or early summer. For now, the club is continuing to ask for input from the community via its online survey.

“Very anxious. Really looking forward to (revealing the brand),” Ruiz said. “It’s been really great to be part of this process, to know how much detail and consideration our ownership and our leadership group is taking. It’s very easy to name something that is very much traditional. We want to look at every single angle and want to make sure that we’re being diligent and we’re listening to the right people.”