Charting a New Course: The Los Angeles Clippers’ Rebrand and Its Effect on Sponsorship

Charting a New Course: The Los Angeles Clippers’ Rebrand and Its Effect on Sponsorship

When you think of Los Angeles basketball, most think of the Los Angeles Lakers. You might even think of UCLA basketball with John Wooden and Lew Alcindor. For the casual basketball fan, the Los Angeles Clippers are an afterthought. But Clippers owner Steve Balmer and the Clippers’ organization are doing all they can to change that. The team has taken their next big step towards that goal with a complete rebranding of the organization ahead of their move into their new arena, the Intuit Dome.

On February 26th, the Clippers announced significant changes to their branding. Balmer has long pushed for a “total reset” of the franchise following his purchase of the team, going as far as to even suggest changing the name all together. While that consideration looks like a thing of the past, the organization’s complete branding overhaul is about as close as you can get. From a new logo to new jerseys and even a shift in coloring proceeding the team’s move to a new arena, the Clippers are moving into a new era.

The new logo, pictured in the above graphic, features a ship as the centerpiece. This is a callback to the namesake of the team from when they were in San Diego: a Clipper, which was a mid-19th-century merchant sailing vessel designed for speed that would sail off the coast of Southern California. The unique design was pushed by Balmer who wanted a “monogramed style mark that would play well internationally,” leaning into the league’s goal of attracting a larger international audience.

Public reception of the new uniforms has been widely positive, with many praising their clean, old-school aesthetic which has been praised as a massive improvement over the current jerseys that were often described as, “generic and bland.”

The new color scheme is not too far off from the Clippers colors we know today, but there is a new significant emphasis on navy blue as the team’s core color. This new coloring, along with the redesigned logo, will be incorporated into the team’s new court that was also revealed in the rebranding announcement.  

This rebranding goes hand-in-hand with the team’s scheduled departure from their longtime shared home with the LA Lakers, Crypto.com Arena, into their new, highly touted arena: the Intuit Dome. Balmer has praised the design of the new arena, highlighting its fan-first design with aspects like The Wall, a standing room section behind the basket made up of 51 rows designed for the loudest and most passionate Clipper fans.

The Clippers are reinventing themselves in a way like an expansion franchise: new uniforms, a new logo, a new court and even a new arena! All while still retaining their history and current star-studded roster. How can the NBA franchise capitalize on the allure of their redesigned franchise with regards to their existing and new sponsorships?

A Jersey Patch Sponsor

The first and most obvious way to take advantage of the new uniforms is to pair that with the announcement of a new jersey patch sponsor. The Clippers previously had Bumble as their jersey sponsor from 2018-2020 and Honey from 2022-2023.

According to MVP Index, a jersey patch sponsor received an average of $147,619 of brand value for each game that their patch appears in. This coupled with the attention drawn from the announcement of a uniform redesign could exponentially raise that value.

Leaning into the Nautical Aspect

With the rebrand heavily leaning into the nautical origin of the Clipper name, this would be the opportune time for a boating focused brand to sponsor the Clippers organization to align their messaging.

The first thought that comes to mind is a multinational cruise line, like Carnival Cruises. Carnival has a rich history of sports sponsorship, having most recently partnered with the Miami Heat on a one-year deal to become their new jersey patch sponsor for the 2023-24 season.

The Carnival and Clippers brands coming together would create incredible value for Carnival beyond what could be created via a partnership with another sports franchise thanks to the Clippers’ nautical focus. Could Carnival pivot from Miami to LA following the conclusion of their deal with the Heat? Only time will tell.

Another international cruise line, MSC Cruises, might want to get in on the fun as well. MSC has taken huge strides into the sports sponsorship space in the last few years, signing deals with professional franchises across the world. They also recently made their first foray into NBA sponsorship through a deal with the New York Knicks.

MSC has made public their desire to continue expanding into partnership marketing with the intention of strengthening their presence in the world of sports. What better way to do so than to partner with a team that is leaning into its nautical origins?

Added Value for Existing Partners

Existing Clippers sponsors, like arena naming rights partner Intuit, are undoubtably thrilled with the massive draw and positive reception of the new branding announcement.

While sponsors will need to update their branding to match the new guidelines, I am sure that they will happily oblige thanks to the desire from fans to see this new rebrand being put to use.

 

This massive change is undoubtably a positive one for the Clippers organization, for fans, sponsors and even for the players. The combination of a complete brand overhaul with their move into a new arena constitutes a new era in LA Clippers basketball, one that will hopefully propel the franchise to new heights.

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