Saturday, April 28, 2012

Brand identity: filling the empty vessel of the Brooklyn Nets "sports entertainment corporation" with new logo and colors

The Brooklyn Nets are set to unveil their new logo and colors at 10 am Monday, according to the Star-Ledger.

The location?

Ironically enough, the Modell's Sporting Goods store opposite the Barclays Center arena and Atlantic Terminal mall, on a plot of land known as Site 5 that is destined to be part of the Atlantic Yards project, housing a 25-story building that would displace Modell's and its neighbor, P.C. Richard.

That logo would fill the shield outlined in the #HelloBrooklyn campaign that began earlier in the week.

Image: SportsLogos.net
And as Deadspin and later Gothamist reported, the logo has leaked, emphasizing the name "Nets" with a "B" superimposed over a basketball.

It's a big deal in this Sports world, this big reveal, and big deal in Brooklyn. People are buying #HelloBrooklyn merch, and surely Nets caps and t-shirts will begin selling, to Brooklynites and wannabes, especially when pushed by trend-setters like Jay-Z. (What, principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov won't be modeling the merch?)

One snarky comment, on the Daily Beast:
Looks like some lazy designer said "Y'know who had a great logo? The Brooklyn Dodgers. Y'know who had a great color scheme? The Raiders."
By contrast, BigLeadSports, which supplied the photos below, called it "gorgeous."

Blind brand loyalty?

But what does it mean to support a hometown team when you don't even know what the team will be? Are people just "rooting for the clothes," as Jerry Seinfeld said?

From BigLeadSports
The biggest Nets star, Deron Williams, is a free agent, and while he has incentives to stay with the team (more money) and recently expressed enthusiasm about the arena, the Dallas Mavericks, his hometown team, are expected to make a big play for him.

Does the fact of a team, no matter who's on it, mean that people will represent? Does the makeup of the team make a difference? Do Brooklynites need a mark of identity so badly they will embrace an empty vessel?

Enough will embrace it, I suspect, at least initially. No matter how well the Nets play, I imagine, the publicity and novelty of the first year will bring enough of a casual fan base--notwithstanding a certain quotient of those alienated. And, if and when the team wins, it'll be easier to join the bandwagon.

"Sports entertainment corporation"

But a basketball team might be better described, in the resonant phrase of Good Jobs New York's Bettina Damian aptly told Congress, "sports entertainment corporations." As Dave D'Alessandro of the Star-Ledger wrote last week:
The largest change in our sporting lifetimes is that we regard these less as “teams” than a compulsive money grab conducted by men with MBAs — and now it goes 24/365. The NBA types have slipped in the fight for our attention and disposable income, and adjusted by becoming consumer predators — using public funds to build their stadiums, selling absurdly inflated expectations, marketing mediocre players as people who are essential to our lives, and mastering the art of “product differentiation,” which is the practice of selling different seats to different levels of suckers.
The notion that team ownership is a “public trust” is a laughable anachronism. Maybe it felt that way once. But not since they priced the middle class almost virtually out of the picture.
For the first time, the Nets are attempting to join that rat race in earnest. We wish them bon voyage and Godspeed and all that rot. They should do well.
Regarding Bruce Ratner's purchase of the Nets, D'Alessandro references former point guard Jason Kidd: “It’s not about basketball around here anymore.”

Dodgers redux?

But the endless equations with the Brooklyn Dodgers--as in the photo I below--deserve many asterisks, as Scott Turner of Fans for Fair Play reminded us in November 2005. Back then, it was far more likely for players to stick with a team for years.
Flatbush Avenue, south side, west of Seventh Avenue. Photo by Norman Oder
Remember, State Senator Marty Golden declared, according to a 4/14/06 Courier-Life article, “It is the chance of a lifetime to have stars such as Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson and all the others have their home court based in Brooklyn.”

That chance has long passed. There are new players today, and surely more new ones tomorrow.

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