In marketing parlance, the Charlotte NBA franchise has launched a new “brand identity campaign.” In law enforcement circles, it’s the equivalent of the witness protection program.
What began with new team colors and logos already had been extended to new uniforms for the 2012-13 season – they’re now just “Cats” across their chests, the “Bob” part unofficially consigned to the heap of old stationery and business cards from original owner Robert Johnson’s tenure.
The latest nip-and-tuck comes via an ad campaign of “TougherFasterStronger,” which at least encourages a Charlotte fan to say it faster by going with Italics font and dropping the spaces between the words. It is meant to focus on the “hard work, up-tempo play and overall development that are the keys to the philosophy of new Bobcats Head Coach Mike Dunlap.”
“This is an exciting time as we prepare for the upcoming season,” said [team president and CEO Fred] Whitfield. “From his first day on the job, Coach Dunlap’s intensity, energy and commitment have inspired not only the players but our entire organization. With that, it is only natural that we would follow his lead with this campaign.”
The campaign features the words “TougherFasterStronger” in italics, along with images of the team’s new colors, logos and young core of players including Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and 2012 NBA Draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Advertising elements debuting today include online spots on bobcats.com, radio and outdoor billboards around the city. Additional print, digital, television and grassroots marketing activations will appear later this fall.
Tougher? Faster? Stronger? It’s safe to say that the Bobcats of 2012-13 will be an upgrade in those categories from 2011-12, given the 7-59 finish (.106, the lowest winning percentage in league history). But tougher, faster or stronger than any of the other 29 teams? We’ll wait to grant the Cats that much improvement.
Do team slogans matter? Well, they did for Pat Riley’s “15 Strong” inspiration during Miami’s 2006 championship run. “See What They Can Do” didn’t go as well for Minnesota in 2008-09, because fans of that 58-loss team already had seen the previous year’s squad lose 60. The Nets’ final season in Newark was themed “Jersey Strong, Brooklyn Ready” but it felt more like Jersey was ready to see the Nets go during their 22-44 lame-duck season.
Last season, Charlotte went with a “Prepare Today, Own Tomorrow” slogan, which sounds more fit for a layaway plan than a layup line.