There is no team that pushes its brand…shamelessly, unabashedly, to those interested and disinterested…as the former New Jersey now Brooklyn Nets. Nary a day goes by where some player, staffer, partner is not out doing something in the community, or the team is touting its latest innovations. New players in town? Go to the Yankees for a night of brand building. 95 degrees on a summer Friday? Hold a block party. Jay Z not coming, make people think he is. Every time the cash register ticks with a jersey sale or a new season sub, tell the world. Maybe sometimes its white noise, or in the case of the teams new “colors” (eventhough white and black are the lack of color not colors themselves) black and white noise in the hopes that someone will hear it. As the late Ted Williams said, if you keep swinging eventually you will hit something.
So now we have Jeremy Lin in Houston, a brand and an athlete cultivated not in the hinterlands and going to Broadway’s bright lights, but one nurtured in Gotham and now heading away to a team that needs to fill seats now and compete for global brand dollars again, as they did in their short and sweet run with Yao Ming. What to do? Take a page from the Nets. Go wall to wall with Lin as leverage not just for himself but for all those around him who can use the boost to boost the brand.
Whether the guard from Harvard can be healthy and play a full slate at a high level is now irrelevant to those selling the Rockets. As a matter of fact, what’s only relevant is he is theirs and he won’t suit up til October. So the selling season is now til then, because after that, who knows? For the team it’s also not just about Jeremy Lin…it is a chance to re-expose their diverse and savvy GM Daryl Morey and it is a chance to have Lin help put his teammates on a higher platform. How? By association with the man in the limelight. Jeremy Lin has the media leverage in one of the world’s greatest team sports, so pulling his mates in with him, mentioning, highlighting, posing with them, lifts the team and the brand. It also promotes a heck of a lot good will for a guy who whispers have said (probably wrongly) the guy has gotten a big head. Yes pushing the Rockets is about their new savior, but using that savior to push through all the teams initiatives…constantly and loudly to a global audience…has never had more of a chance. Cause marketing? Jeremy and the kids of Houston…with a teammate. New sponsor…yes J Lin but also another guy, pick one. He is a point guard, he makes the team better, by rule. Now he has the leverage to make his guys better as brands as well, all by association.
So don’t be quiet Rockets, use the window to grab the sales and promote your guys. Follow the Nets rule, don’t be shy and scream loudly…some obvious folks will hear you, but probably some unexpected ones will too. That’s the best way to grow the team brand.