Vissel Kobe was originally formed in 1994, as "Kobe Orange Soccer Club" (dont even ASK what the "orange" is supposed to mean), with the support of the Kobe city government and seven corporate backers, including Daiei Inc. and Itoham Foods Inc. It was formed with the specific aim of bringing professional football to Kobe. For most of its existence, Vissel has been in a state of flux. Management has changed several times and the team has been trying to "redefine" itself for so long that nobody is really sure what it was about in the first place.
Vissel Kobe's roots are connected to the Ito Ham soccer club, which was never a particularly great club team, but was placed high enough in the amateur pecking order to serve as a platform on which Kobe Orange SC could build. But almost as soon as it was created, Vissel lost a main sponsor when the Great Hanshin Earthquake forced Daiei to pull out of management. Nevertheless, Vissel was successful enough to earn promotion to the J.League at the end of 1996, only to come apart at the seams financially and end up being rescued from bankruptcy by the Crimson Group, which proceeded to completely re-brand the team..
"Vissel" is supposedly a combination of the words "victory" and "vessel". The concept envisioned a ship that was going to carry Kobe to victory, and it was appropriate enough for a port city. But whereas the original corporate identity included that ship-based concept, the Crimson Group replaced it with an identity that is essentially just a plug for "Crimson". The mascot is a cow named "Mooby", which references the city's fame as the home of "Kobe Beef". Though this choice may make a certain amount of sense, one has to remember the role of cows in Kobe: people from other cities travel to Kobe in order to enjoy a delicious feast, at their expense.