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NFL Increases Use of Alternate Uniforms in 2018

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1 minute ago, C-Squared said:

Who is separating them?

 

Again, uniforms are simply one facet of a sports team's brand.

I would argue they’re the most important aspect. By a wide margin. 

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1 hour ago, C-Squared said:

 

You are either underestimating the resiliency of these brands or overestimating the influence of uniforms, many of which will see the field <10 times ever.

 

 

A sports team's “primary brand” involves much more than their primary uniform set. See the latter above.

 

If you're going to argue that football uniforms don't count so much because there aren't that many games, then you and I will simply have to agree to disagree.

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22 minutes ago, Ice_Cap said:

I would argue they’re the most important aspect. By a wide margin. 

 

In terms of visually differentiating from other teams, sure.

 

4 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

If you're going to argue that football uniforms don't count so much because there aren't that many games, then you and I will simply have to agree to disagree.

 

I am saying that bad alternates like the black 9ers set might see the field 10 times ever. The 49ers brand as a whole is far too strong to merit the vague consequence of a ruined track record over a spattering of games in unpopular clothing.

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1 hour ago, C-Squared said:

 

I am saying that bad alternates like the black 9ers set might see the field 10 times ever. The 49ers brand as a whole is far too strong to merit the vague consequence of a ruined track record over a spattering of games in unpopular clothing.

 

Until the rules change allowing teams to have more than one bad alternate, and allowing the team to wear them more often.

 

So, you know... slippery slope.

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49 minutes ago, oldschoolvikings said:

 

Until the rules change allowing teams to have more than one bad alternate, and allowing the team to wear them more often.

 

So, you know... slippery slope.

 

A slippery slope specifically towards what? Lost merch revenue? Decreased viewership? I guess I don't get the panic aside from jersey snobs (myself included) getting huffy about it... there seems to be this vague fear of brand degredation from people who grossly overestimate the effect jerseys have on these businesses.

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37 minutes ago, C-Squared said:

A slippery slope specifically towards what?

 

 

3 hours ago, Ice_Cap said:

This is the slippery slope argument in action. 

 

Again, it used to be argued that alternates were fine because a 162/82 game MLB/NHL/NBA season was too long for home v road to be visually interesting all the way through. 

 

Then people justified alternates in the NFL because it was only twice a year, and twice over the course of a 16 game season was seen as justifiable. 

 

Now we’re at the point where many people are justifying greater alternate usage in the NFL, following the slow but steady alternate takeover in MLB and the NBA. 

 

We’ve seen alternates promoted as once and while shakeups to increased usage as the boundaries were pushed steadily forward. This is now happening in three of North America’s “Big Four.”

 

You’re even justifying the increased alt usage in the NFL by saying they’ll probably be used in “less than 10 times” per season. After the original justification was “it’s only two games a season.” 

It’s a textbook case of the “slippery slope” in action. 

 

 

37 minutes ago, C-Squared said:

I guess I don't get the panic aside from jersey snobs (myself included) getting huffy about it... there seems to be this vague fear of brand degredation from people who grossly overestimate the effect jerseys have on these businesses.

 

As I said earlier it’s not a shock that teams that have traditionally tinkered with their uniforms have weaker brands than those that stay relatively consistent.

Who has a stronger brand?

The Vancouver Canucks or Toronto Maple Leafs?

The San Diego Padres or Detroit Tigers? 

 

This is a uniform and logo-centric community after all. It’s no surprise that we tend to view things through that filter. 

That said? I don’t think we’re off-base on this one. Teams that remain consistent with their uniforms do tend to have stronger branding than those that change their uniforms up more often. 

 

And it’s the the fear of the slippery slope of alternate over-saturation (see above) that the NFL is falling down that is bringing on those concerns here. 

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2 hours ago, C-Squared said:

 

A slippery slope specifically towards what? Lost merch revenue? Decreased viewership? I guess I don't get the panic aside from jersey snobs (myself included) getting huffy about it... there seems to be this vague fear of brand degredation from people who grossly overestimate the effect jerseys have on these businesses.

 

Oh, OK... I finally get it!  I guess I wasn't paying enough attention as the conversation veered into this "good or bad for branding" stuff, which wasn't really my initial concern. So, no, I'm not particularly concerned about a slippery slope towards lost merch revenue (not my problem) or decreased viewership (ditto)... my beef is very specifically as a jersey snob. Yes, my worry is that, with these relaxed uniform rules, when I tune into an NFL game I'll be more likely to see bad uniforms.  And seeing bad uniforms affects my enjoyment of the game. In my opinion, when teams are limited to one "real" uniform, they will tend to respect that uniform, and the tradition behind it, and, yes, the brand it carries, which makes it less likely they'll do something stupid with it. More choices for alternates means more "pushing the envelope", more "let's get the player's opinions", more "the kids will love it"... more s#!tty uniforms. And allowing teams to wear their s#!tty alternates more often means I have to see them more often.

 

So, here's the slippery slope... 10 years ago, when the Bears played at the Packers, it was guaranteed to be a gorgeous game. But for the past few years, one or both teams have blessed us with a crappy throwback. And, adding more alternates and relaxing the rules on how often they can be worn makes it more likely that this will continue.

 

 

 

(Having said all that, I still come down more on the side of Ice Cap, Gothamite, and BBTV as regards to more alternate looks being bad for branding... how can it not be?)

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Sooooo if the rams make the postseason they are still wearing the gold...

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35 minutes ago, jgiff17 said:

Sooooo if the rams make the postseason they are still wearing the gold...

I think it depends on whether or not they save a time or two to wear the throwbacks or an alternate. Not sure what the rules are on that. It sure would be nice to see the throwbacks in the playoffs and/or Super Bowl lol.

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4 hours ago, Ice_Cap said:

As I said earlier it’s not a shock that teams that have traditionally tinkered with their uniforms have weaker brands than those that stay relatively consistent.

Who has a stronger brand?

The Vancouver Canucks or Toronto Maple Leafs?

The San Diego Padres or Detroit Tigers? 

 

This is a uniform and logo-centric community after all. It’s no surprise that we tend to view things through that filter. 

That said? I don’t think we’re off-base on this one. Teams that remain consistent with their uniforms do tend to have stronger branding than those that change their uniforms up more often.

 

Correlation does not equal causation. I would argue that a series of factors far more important than jerseys afforded those teams success.

 

8 hours ago, Ice_Cap said:

You’re even justifying the increased alt usage in the NFL by saying they’ll probably be used in “less than 10 times” per season. After the original justification was “it’s only two games a season.”

 

Not 10 times per season. In the case of the 9ers black uni, <10 times ever. That uni won't leave a dent in the 49ers brand.

 

2 hours ago, oldschoolvikings said:

(Having said all that, I still come down more on the side of Ice Cap, Gothamite, and BBTV as regards to more alternate looks being bad for branding... how can it not be?)

 

Their stance seems to hinge on the theory that the less you see teams in their primary uniform, the worse it is for their brand. I think that reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of branding. Beyond that, countless teams have proven that alternate/throwback uniforms can exist within an overarching brand, which can not only strengthen the brand as a whole, but also generate revenue and reach more diverse markets.

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8 minutes ago, duxrcool048 said:

I think it depends on whether or not they save a time or two to wear the throwbacks or an alternate. Not sure what the rules are on that. It sure would be nice to see the throwbacks in the playoffs and/or Super Bowl lol.

Wouldn’t it suck if they used up all the alts and in the super bowl they had to wear the dark blue and gold!! Haha 

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12 minutes ago, C-Squared said:

I think that reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of branding. Beyond that, countless teams have proven that alternate/throwback uniforms can exist within an overarching brand, which can not only strengthen the brand as a whole, but also generate revenue and reach more diverse markets.

We've never seen alternates dilute an established brand to the scale we've seen with Nike's overhaul of the NBA. The jury's still out on whether or not that's a good thing, and I'm betting (based on past examples) that it won't lead to a strengthening of teams' brands.

 

14 minutes ago, C-Squared said:

Correlation does not equal causation. I would argue that a series of factors far more important than jerseys afforded those teams success.

The Leafs haven't won a Cup since 1967. Three years before the Canucks came into the league. So you can't throw around "of course Toronto has a bigger brand because Winning!" Hell, the Canucks have been to more Cup Finals than the Leafs have since 1970.

And yet the Leafs have a stronger brand. Why is that? I would say a huge reason is because despite changing their uniforms many times since then? The changes have remained pretty damn stable. The Leafs may tweak the logos and striping, but they're always going to be the Maple Leafs. Blue and white, text in the leaf. The brand remains strong.

 

The Canucks have tweaked and tweaked and tweaked to the point where they have three distinct colour schemes and 3.5 primary logos (the current logo's a recolour of the last one). Let's not even get into secondary logos. And just look at a crowd shot at a Canucks game. It's a patchwork of different colour schemes. And again. Compare to the Leafs. Everyone's wearing blue and white.

 

What you refer to as "a fundamental misunderstanding of branding" is ultimately a difference of opinion. You don't seem to believe a uniform set is ultimately that big a part of a team's brand. I (and it appears others agree with me on this) think it's vitally important. Not only is it a new fan's gateway to the team's brand? It (or its elements) are almost always the most visible aspect of a team's brand. When you muddle that the brand will suffer.

 

Again, compare the brand of a team whose fans can't decide what colour scheme to wear to a fanbase that wears the same unified scheme.

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The NFL won't let teams wear alternate helmets anymore and on top of that most alternates are just color swaps. I'm not concerned with this new ruling at all as long as those things are in place. What exactly is there to dilute over a 16 week period anyways? The Green Bay Packers wore throwbacks for three straight weeks in 1994, nobody cared and the G still reigns supreme as their identity. It's not like people are going to suddenly forget what a team looks like especially when it comes to a team like the Packers or Bears.

 

The only real branding issue in the league is the Rams. Everyone knows what's going on with all the other teams. I just don't think we need to worry because Goodell is hard headed and has no intention of giving anybody what they want, not even himself, so he's just going to play it completely safe.

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Color swaps aren't that bad, but only if there's one.  Panthers are a great example of a color swap that IMHO enhances their brand rather than dilutes it.  It also could be argued that it serves a functional purpose, in that it could be their "hot weather dark jersey" if they needed to explain it for some reason.  

 

That being said, with more alts than just one color swap, including throwbacks that in some cases (Jets for example) look nothing like the primary look and color rushes that also look nothing like the primary look, many teams can't help themselves and need to be told what's best for them.

 

Nike's influence needs to be limited, and the teams / league should be smart enough to decide what's in the best interest of the league, not the best interest for Nike's bottom line.

 

Just like there's many teams that manage their brands very well, there's just as many that don't, and it's looking like the rules are changing in favor of the latter group more than the former.

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, C-Squared said:

 

Correlation does not equal causation. I would argue that a series of factors far more important than jerseys afforded those teams success.

 

 

Not 10 times per season. In the case of the 9ers black uni, <10 times ever. That uni won't leave a dent in the 49ers brand.

 

 

Their stance seems to hinge on the theory that the less you see teams in their primary uniform, the worse it is for their brand. I think that reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of branding. Beyond that, countless teams have proven that alternate/throwback uniforms can exist within an overarching brand, which can not only strengthen the brand as a whole, but also generate revenue and reach more diverse markets.

 

10 hours ago, Ice_Cap said:

We've never seen alternates dilute an established brand to the scale we've seen with Nike's overhaul of the NBA. The jury's still out on whether or not that's a good thing, and I'm betting (based on past examples) that it won't lead to a strengthening of teams' brands.

 

The Leafs haven't won a Cup since 1967. Three years before the Canucks came into the league. So you can't throw around "of course Toronto has a bigger brand because Winning!" Hell, the Canucks have been to more Cup Finals than the Leafs have since 1970.

And yet the Leafs have a stronger brand. Why is that? I would say a huge reason is because despite changing their uniforms many times since then? The changes have remained pretty damn stable. The Leafs may tweak the logos and striping, but they're always going to be the Maple Leafs. Blue and white, text in the leaf. The brand remains strong.

 

The Canucks have tweaked and tweaked and tweaked to the point where they have three distinct colour schemes and 3.5 primary logos (the current logo's a recolour of the last one). Let's not even get into secondary logos. And just look at a crowd shot at a Canucks game. It's a patchwork of different colour schemes. And again. Compare to the Leafs. Everyone's wearing blue and white.

 

What you refer to as "a fundamental misunderstanding of branding" is ultimately a difference of opinion. You don't seem to believe a uniform set is ultimately that big a part of a team's brand. I (and it appears others agree with me on this) think it's vitally important. Not only is it a new fan's gateway to the team's brand? It (or its elements) are almost always the most visible aspect of a team's brand. When you muddle that the brand will suffer.

 

Again, compare the brand of a team whose fans can't decide what colour scheme to wear to a fanbase that wears the same unified scheme.

 

I can definitely see both sides of this. For football specifically, I don’t like relaxing the rules because as many have stated, there are only 16 games and it absolutely does dilute the brands over time if there’s no one to control or guide them.

 

Then I look at soccer, and every team has their “look” that changes slightly every year or two, along with an extra kit or two that depart wildly from “the brand” and change just as often, yet soccer brands seem to do fine. Maybe they’re already careening down the slope to the point that it’s all normalized?

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While it's true that a brand is a lot more than just the team's uniform, the uniform is either the biggest or second biggest visual component of the brand after the team's logo. As a result, it definitely hurts a team's brand when they don't have at least some consistency in their uniforms. Not only is it more difficult to identify the team quickly for the average fan. It also has an effect on the affective relationship a fan has towards his or her team due to the fact a major part of the visual stimulus that triggers these feelings is missing. Most team's brands are built upon the positive feelings that come from memories of watching the team whether it's going to your first game, watching your team win a championship, etc. Due to this, fans will have a much stronger visual association with uniforms and logos that have been used for a long time since there will be more memories associated with these visuals.

 

A good example of this would be a comparison between the brands of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. Both teams came into the league at roughly the same time and have similar success. However, the Mariners I would say have the stronger brand of the two. A major component of this is the fact the Mariners have kept a similar visual identity since the '90s, which means when you watch them play it invokes memories of watching Ken Griffey, Jr., Ichiro, Randy Johnson, and other past greats play as well as big moments in the team's history such as their ALDS victory in 1995 and the 2001 team. The Padres on the other hand wear uniforms that are pretty generic looking and don't look anything like uniforms they wore during the past when they had success, so when you're just watching them play you don't get those same kind of fond feelings you do when watching the Mariners.

 

Another area where having a consistent visual identity is important is when it comes to creating a sense of feeling or belonging that goes along with supporting a team. As @Ice_Cap touched on you feel much more a part of the crowd when you're wearing similar colors as everyone else in the stands as well as the players on the field. It's much easier for a Cubs fan to feel a part of the team while wearing the team's traditional blue and red than it is for a Padres fan when there is such a mix mash of colors in the stands.

 

Finally, speaking specifically about some of the NBA alternates this year, a lot of the alternates that teams were wearing didn't fit their brand at all. This can be especially problematic if the alternates clash with the team's brand. For example, the Cubs brand is based on having fun in the sun and watching a baseball game. The brand is further emphasized by the team's typical bright blue and red colors. However, if they were to wear a black alternate jersey because the people at Nike thought it would be a popular seller, it would create a weird juxtaposition that would dilute the team's overall brand that they've worked hard to achieve.

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3 hours ago, andrewharrington said:

Then I look at soccer, and every team has their “look” that changes slightly every year or two, along with an extra kit or two that depart wildly from “the brand” and change just as often, yet soccer brands seem to do fine. Maybe they’re already careening down the slope to the point that it’s all normalized?

Well there are two things about soccer I think are worth mentioning. 

The first is that the world’s strongest soccer brands exist outside of North America. Outside of what most people here are using as a frame of reference. In Latin America or Europe? The yearly change is part of sport’s culture. 

That’s not something we’re used to from our brands in North America’s “Big Four,” and context does inform branding and how it operates. 

 

Secondly? The “soccer teams change yearly” thing is a bit of a misunderstood phenomena.

Yes, changes happen yearly. Overall identity, however, remains consist. Arsenal, for example, will always be red with white sleeves, unless conditions call for a clash kit to come into play. 

 

Which is very different from Nike’s approach with the NBA, where we’re not sure what uniforms teams will be breaking out on a game-to-game basis. 

And given Nike is behind the NFL as well, just as the NFL is announcing a lifting of restrictions on alternates? I don’t think people are wrong to worry about something similar happening.

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On 7/7/2018 at 11:01 AM, andrewharrington said:

I can definitely see both sides of this. For football specifically, I don’t like relaxing the rules because as many have stated, there are only 16 games and it absolutely does dilute the brands over time if there’s no one to control or guide them.

 

Then I look at soccer, and every team has their “look” that changes slightly every year or two, along with an extra kit or two that depart wildly from “the brand” and change just as often, yet soccer brands seem to do fine. Maybe they’re already careening down the slope to the point that it’s all normalized?

 

As noted above, soccer brands are actually quite stable, just in a different way.  Clubs almost never change their colors, and they have a wider variety of colors than most American sports leagues.   So Arsenal’s primary is red with white sleeves and white shorts.  Always.  Juventus is white and black stripes. If you see yellow with green shorts, it’s Norwich. Chelsea is a royal blue shirt and shorts with white socks.  The details change, but the big-picture is always the same.  That’s remarkably consistent branding.

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15 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

 

As noted above, soccer brands are actually quite stable, just in a different way.  Clubs almost never change their colors, and they have a wider variety of colors than most American sports leagues.   So Arsenal’s primary is red with white sleeves and white shorts.  Always.  Juventus is white and black stripes. If you see yellow with green shorts, it’s Norwich. Chelsea is a royal blue shirt and shorts with white socks.  The details change, but the big-picture is always the same.  That’s remarkably consistent branding.

 

Yeah, that’s what I mean. They have their look, and they play within that theme when they do a new kit. Where I think the similarity to the new NBA is, though, is in the change kits, which are sometimes a very random, non-team color (as opposed to international kits, where the change is often still the national colors, but in a different application).

 

I don’t feel that club soccer brands are any worse because of the random colors, but for some reason, that approach doesn’t work as well for people when it comes to the NBA, which is interesting to me. I think a lot of it is simply the expectation of iconic American brands to remain so, especially in sports.

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1 hour ago, andrewharrington said:

I don’t feel that club soccer brands are any worse because of the random colors, but for some reason, that approach doesn’t work as well for people when it comes to the NBA, which is interesting to me. I think a lot of it is simply the expectation of iconic American brands to remain so, especially in sports.

 

Funny, because I think a team like the Lakers runs exactly on that philosophy.  The basic colors stay the same, but all the details keep changing to make the uniform stay with current trends. 

 

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kobe_lakers_free_agents.jpg

 

This is exactly what Arsenal or Man United or Inter Milan have done, just a bit more slowly. 

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