Rebounding: How the WNBA Scored with a New Identity

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) discarded a sixteen-year-old logo in 2013 when it introduced fresh insignia to mark its evolved brand. The WNBA took the opportunity to revitalize its look when it extended its broadcast partnership with ESPN, who will air up to 30 games per season on its network and affiliates.  In a press release to address the change, the WNBA noted,  “The refreshed identity reflects how far the level of play has come in 16 years as stronger, more agile players have made the game more competitive (WNBA, 2013).  The logo change fulfills the six criteria identified by Keller for impactful brand elements: memorability, meaningfulness, likability, transferability, adaptability and protectability.

Memorable- The new WNBA logo is memorable.  Unlike many companies who do not include an identifying feature that links the logo to the brand, WNBA does.  A woman with a basketball pretty much nails what the WNBA is all about.  There should be no doubt about what the WNBA stands for when their logo is viewed.wnba_logo_evolution

 

Meaningful- The change is meaningful because the new logo gives the WNBA a more independent identify.  Previously, the WNBA colors and logo were simply an extension of the red, white and blue colors and the shield of the NBA. In fact, the only difference was that there was a female in the WNBA who was dribbling a basketball on her right side as opposed to her male counterpart who was dribbling on the left.  The new logo provides more legitimacy to the female players in the WNBA.

Likable- The new WNBA logo is visually appealing and more modern than the previous logo.  The typography is robust.  The color change to orange and white was chosen to provide cohesion with the existing and iconic orange and white basketballs used for the women’s league.  The female player is seen as making a layup instead of merely dribbling the ball which reflects more energy, a key characteristic that the WNBA wants to underscore.

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Transferable-  Because the WNBA focuses only on women’s basketball, the transferability of this logo is less of a concern than it would be for other organizations.  Nonetheless, the silhouette of the “logowoman” (the name given to the silhouette by the WNBA) was designed to be more multicultural.  According to the WNBA, the player silhouette within the logo “better embodies the athleticism and diversity of today’s WNBA players” (WNBA Press Release, 2013).  To garner excitement for the new logo and “embellish the point”, the WNBA rolled out a social media campaign where players and fants put “photos of themselves in similar poses on sites such as Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag ‘#iamlogowoman’ (Chodos, 2013).

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Adaptable- The new logo was a clear adaptation of the old.  And because the theme of the logo is the same, it would be very easy to update the current logo when needed.  Logowoman previously wore her hair short and basketball shorts midlength.  Updated logowoman wears longer hair and longer basketball shorts.  Also, today’s silhouette wears high-top sneakers.  While I doubt these are going away any time soon, modifying any of these elements would be a cinch for the WNBA when it desires to make changes in the future to reflect current trends.

 

Protectable-  The NBA (and thus, the WNBA) are members of The Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos (CAPS).  Members of CAPS “work diligently to enforce their respective trademark rights”(About CAPS, 2015).  The unauthorized use of the logo is not likely given the protective nature of CAPS.  Also, because the logo is a little more intricate than a logo like Foursquare (where the lettering can be easily duplicated) and  less like other logos (like the problem with Oxford Dictionary and Beats by Dr. Dre), the WNBA logo is not apt to be duplicated.

 

I believe the WNBA became more memorable, meaningful and likable with its update of the women’s basketball logo.  Keller calls this  the “marketer’s offensive strategy” which helps it to “build brand equity” (Keller, 2013).   The latter three criteria did not seem to lose or gain ground.  Keller defines the last three criteria (transferability, adaptability and protectability) as the defensive front (Keller, 2013). The WNBA’s use of the logo maintained brand equity and did not open itself up to threats or subject it to undue constraints on the brand.

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About CAPS.  (2015) CAPS Website.  Retrieved August 25, 2015 from http://www.capsinfo.com/content.cfm?capsnav=about

Chodus, B.  (2013, March 28).  WNBA reveals new logo featuring mystery silhouette.  Retrieved from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1585145-wnba-reveals-new-logo-featuring-mystery-silhouette

Foursquare.  [Online image].  (2014, August 20).  Retrieved August 24, 2015 from http://www.businessinsider.com/2014-logo-changes-2014-8?op=1

Keller, K. L. (2013). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity. (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Oxford Dictionaries, Beats by Dr. Dre.  [Online image].  (2014, August 20). Retrieved August 24, 2015 from http://www.businessinsider.com/2014-logo-changes-2014-8?op=1

Spalding ball for WNBA. [Online image]. (2013). Retrieved August 25, 2015 from   http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/wnba_steps_inline.php#.VdckZmBkhyw

2012 WNBA Champions Indiana Fever’s Briann January.  [Online image]. (2013). Retrieved August 25, 2015 from   http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/wnba_steps_inline.php#.VdckZmBkhyw

WNBA and NBA Logos.  [Online image].  (2013, July 23). Retrieved August 25, 2015 from http://thesoftballchannel.com/forums/index.php?/topic/3472-wnba-changes-logo/

WNBA former and current logos.  [Online image]. (2013). Retrieved August 25, 2015 from   http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/wnba_steps_inline.php#.VdckZmBkhyw

Women’s National Basketball Association.  (2013).  WNBA, ESPN broaden partnership and extend through 2022. [Press Release]. Retrieved from http://www.wnba.com/news/espn_new_branding_032813.html

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