NBA Marketing - Nothing but net!

Something I have always valued about working in the branding and design field is the license we are given every day to think creatively, to promote new ideas, and - in some respect - to daydream. Now when I use the term ‘daydream,’ I don’t mean staring longingly out from my cubicle, across the hall, and out the window. No, what I mean is gathering all that we know about our client brands - products, promise purpose - and dreaming up or imagining fresh, inspiring ways to instill a deeper understanding and build stronger connections between our clients and their consumers. 

Some common language we use in our field to frame up strategies for building connections include phrases like “brand storytelling”, “invitation to the conversation”, and “delivering a brand experience.” Got it! Love it! Great!… but what do these phrases really mean? 

I read this article from and thought the NBA example it highlights frames up what truly effective brand storytelling, consumer inclusion, and brand experience looks like. To keep on theme, I’ll call it the “marketing 3-pointer:” 

Brand Storytelling: The NBA looked to its consumers, its fans, to uncover what the most meaningful storyline is for them: The players! 

Invitation to the Conversation: From the above storyline, the “This Is Why We Play” campaign was born. It began as a celebration of the athletes in the NBA, but quickly evolved to invite and include NBA fans as well as basketball players at all levels into the story. 

Delivering a Brand Experience: The most important word here being “Delivering.” The NBA understood from research that less than 1% of fans ever experience the excitement of an NBA game live, inside an arena. So they leaned heavily on digital to “deliver” the brand experience to consumers rather than waiting for them to come to it. Mobile apps that allow anyone anywhere to experience and interact with a game in real time; digital channels to serve up the untold stories behind players or games that build closer, stronger emotional connections between the NBA and its fans - are just two ways the NBA delivers the experience.

Based on this example, I’d say the NBA hit a winning shot, right on the mark… I’m shouting, “Nothing but net!” - as I launch a wad of paper toward my waste basket and daydream that it actually went in. The crowd is going wild!