The billboards began popping up last spring with a message –the perfect tagline, short enough to fit into 140-character tweets, one that was a greeting with open arms, a hip wink and a reminder of who owned a piece of the franchise.
At the Barclays Center, an all-black sign with the outline of a shield read, “Brooklyn now has a home team.” At the Williamsburg Bridge: “Of course it’s personal.” The Manhattan Bridge had an even tougher message, a clear nod to the rival Knicks, with some pundits wondering if fans would convert: “Bridges will be crossed.” All of them had #HelloBrooklyn scrawled on them. (It gets even more meta: Hello Brooklyn is the name of a JAY Z song.)
“It made total sense,” explains Rodriguez. “It was a welcoming, an invitation to people who felt some kind of connection with the borough as more than just a geographical place on the map, but more of a mind state. People connect with Brooklyn globally, so we thought it made sense to leverage
It was also a nod to the overall strategy: simply associating with Brooklyn itself was like injecting HGH directly into the Nets’ brand. And the numbers back it up. Branding company BAV Consulting focused on the Nets’ move for a study with its database of 17,000 consumers from around the country, split into basketball fans versus those who didn’t characterize themselves as NBA enthusiasts. The group published its findings on Baylor University’s Sports Sponsorship & Sales Program’s site, where senior VP Anne Rivers asked, “What happens when a brand changes a core element?”
In this case, the Nets’ move from New Jersey to Brooklyn?
“What we found is that even just from adding the word ‘Brooklyn’ before they started playing, they became much more differentiated than they had been before. Among basketball fans, they became more relevant,” Rivers says.
Nisenson saw the “perfect branding storm”brewing in Brooklyn—a community looking to jump back into the pro sports world, the presence of JAY Z and the NBA, which he says “crosses all cultures and ethnic groups.” But Nisenson, whose company lists the Houston Texans, Detroit Tigers, and New York Yankees as past clients, also sees the franchise’s tapping into Brooklyn as part of a trend.
“It used to be about the players,” he says. “But the players come and go. They don’t necessarily always care about the city—and nothing against them, it’s a job and a business like it should be. But for the fans, the whole town, it’s what represents them. I think representing yourself as the city … it’s easier to get buy-in from your community.”
This was especially true for a community full of tastemakers that had undergone a recent renaissance. And that’s exactly why Translation and the Nets aligned themselves not just with Brooklyn the borough, but Brooklyn the brand as well.
"NISENSON SAW THE 'PERFECT BRANDING STORM' BREWING
IN BROOKLYN – A COMMUNITY LOOKING TO JUMP BACK INTO THE PRO SPORTS WORLD"