Tips for improving your fantasy league: Building franchises

Fantasy sports are in our DNA at Yahoo, and we know it’s your passion, too. We’re always looking for ways to make our award-winning experience even better and in this case we’re getting help from one of you, our amazing legion of fantasy players, to take leagues to the next level.

Commissioner’s Corner is a multi-part series meant to provide tips to keep your league engaged all season long and tap even more into the fun that comes with playing fantasy. The author, Justin C. Cliburn, has been the dedicated commissioner of his Yahoo Fantasy Football league the OIL since 2006. While it’s a unique league, each and every one of your leagues is special and brings friends, families and co-workers closer together.

Part 3 of the series: Building a Culture Through Franchises

A commissioner should always have an eye on the future, as long-term viability depends on a stable group of league managers. It’s difficult enough to build rivalries, trade relationships, and communication between managers as it is. High manager turnover only exacerbates the problem. So, you’ve got to build a culture worth staying for. One way to do that is through the development of “franchises” via team logos and uniforms.

Team logos are important, as you can’t develop a franchise without one. They encourage managers to settle on a permanent team name, and the permanence of the team name encourages managers not to use player name puns that, are fun, but will be dated by next season.

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Franchise consistency is key. Imagine if half the NFL changed cities, team names, and logos each year. It would be much tougher to identify with teams and no one would take the NFL seriously. But that’s what happens in fantasy leagues every season, and you can limit that through logos.

When it comes to logos, I ascribe to the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy. I started creating logos for the OIL in 2009. They were awful, but they got the guys talking. They asked for revisions, and some even hired real designers to make them their own. For example, the original Hangovers logo (left) pales in comparison to the one Hangovers manager Adam Duffy commissioned to replace it (right):

Clearly, my design skills were not up to the level Duffy found in a professional designer. But he wouldn’t have the amazing logo on the right if I hadn’t first saddled him with the awful logo on the left.

If, like me, you’re not a design wizard, you can skip the initial awful logo by hiring a designer. There are many websites where multiple designers will compete to create the best logo for your project. And there are logo design message boards where you can post requests.

Once your managers have team logos, they can upload them to their team page on Yahoo by clicking on edit team. The logo will then appear next to the team name in the standings rather than the default generic helmets, giving your league a more custom look and feel.

And logos are the first step towards team uniforms, further cultivating a culture of franchises. Posting the uniform matchups in the Yahoo message board provides added realism to the pre-game, like this image previewing the OIL’s AFC championship game between the Doughboys and Redlegs:

Since we started using logos in 2009, the OIL has grown from 14 teams to 42 teams spread across three conferences. You can view all 42 team logos. Each league I mentioned in Part I of this series uses logos and uniforms for their teams, and manager turnover also remains extremely low. That’s what happens when you build a culture.

Helpful hint: Here are some basic guidelines to follow for team names.

1. Be funny. Your players are motivated by funny team names. This is scientifically proven somewhere.

2. Don’t overreach: Going for a joke or reference so obscure that you have to explain the team name to the entire league is not the goal here.

3. No profanity. Pretty basic here. Keep it clean. It shouldn’t be that difficult and can be especially important for those in leagues with co-workers.

4. Don’t be lazy: If your team name ends up being “your first name” apostrophe “team” (AKA Joe’s team) you have failed and doomed your team to follow your lead.

Up Next: In Part IV of the series, we’ll discuss trophies, prizes and more.

More tips for improving your fantasy league:

Starting with the basics
Why bylaws matter