Category: Sports

Reimagining the Brand Architecture at the Westminster Dog Show

February 23, 2016 — Maryann Stump

Every year the Westminster Dog Show provides an opportunity to see the vast portfolio of dogs the canine species has to offer. From a brand perspective there’s a problem though – the brand portfolio architecture is stuck in the 1880s.

Sporting Photo courtesy of USA Today

Working Photo courtesy of PBS

Hound Photo courtesy of Fox 5 San Diego

Herding Photo courtesy of US News

Toy Photo courtesy of Forbes

What’s wrong with this list? It’s not nice to call your best friend a toy, for one thing. For another, herding is work; ask any parent. Most importantly, this is not how people shop for a dog. Brand architecture should reflect the decisions consumers make when deciding what to buy. So let’s look at this portfolio from the perspective of actual (or aspiring) dog owners and the questions in their minds as they shop.

Will this dog fit in my living space?

Apartment dogs Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Subset – New York City apartment dogs (aka, have enough head room to clear an Ikea coffee table) 

Photo courtesy of Izismile

Townhouse dog Photo courtesy of Rssing

Suburban dogs Photo courtesy of Areawoods


Continue Reading

World Cup Through the Eyes of a Designer

July 18, 2014 — Cecilia Jayo

After 32 days of suspense and surprises, the world can finally breathe again. Whether you were watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup to see the U.S. goalkeeper break a World Cup record, or to see if Ronaldo would rip his shirt off in the rain (taka a moment to picture it… *deep sigh*) there’s no denying that the tournament this year was exciting for all.

As a designer, something I look out for every World Cup year is its branding. Each World Cup is branded in a completely unique way, so it’s always fun to see what the next host country will come up with. The official emblem, for example, is created years in advance of the tournament and usually represents a combination of soccer sportsmanship, a global community coming together and a little something about the host country. The branding is also shown in everything from posters to tickets, and even the soccer balls themselves.

It’s interesting to see the evolution of World Cup branding throughout the years and how certain elements have become more carefully designed and branded. What’s also clear is that as the years have passed, more FIFA corporate brand consistency has helped unify the still […]

Continue Reading

A Culture Found

May 22, 2013 — Lulu Carter

It’s 7:30 a.m. and I’m coming off my SoulCycle high, eager to seize the day. As I look around the main foyer of the NoHo location, the sunlit room is all smiles. I am truly in awe of this brand. In just six years Julie Rice has created a multi-million dollar fitness sanctuary; a place where a single class offering has amassed a cult-like following and put Exhale Spa addicts to shame. But why? The ambience is certainly a treat, with Verbena yellow candles infiltrating each room, neon words of encouragement covering the walls, and music playing so loud that the only thing you can focus on is the iconic yellow resistance knob on your bike. Still, this holistic health psyche is not new to the 21st century. Many other brands such as Lululemon and Organic Avenue have appropriated their brand meaning to the marriage of mind and body, a heavy-duty “mental floss” if you will.

Thinking on it more, I realized that SoulCycle has benefited from a cultural branding strategy that speaks to Millennials in a highly relevant way. Where brand meaning in the world of fitness is usually constructed by establishing associations between product and valued functional […]

Continue Reading

Ingredient Sub-Branding

April 1, 2013 — Joshua Books

It’s no secret that Nike is a marketing titan among the many sports brands that dot today’s competitive landscape. The activewear giant pioneered the idea of driving awareness through brand sponsorships by enlisting professional athletes to endorse its products. Romanian tennis player Ilie Nastase, track star Steve Prefontaine, basketball god Michael Jordan and golf great Tiger Woods all paved the way for Nike to become the international conglomerate it is today.

From a brand perspective, introducing new products to the market is much easier and effective when you can hang your hat on a high-profile spokesman like LeBron James. But while that formula has proven successful for Nike, the brand hasn’t stopped there. It continues to innovate around the very sneakers, apparel and accessories these athletes use to compete and succeed at a high level, and has managed to stay on top by doing so.

Over the years, Nike has strategically integrated specific proprietary technologies and created naming conventions that play a large role in establishing a unified portfolio architecture model and sustainable brand equities. If you visit, it’s easy to get lost in myriad styles, models and colors in the brand’s sneaker portfolio. But thanks to a smart […]

Continue Reading

It’s a jungle gym out there

January 15, 2013 — Eliza Sadler

SoulCycle, Reebok, Equinox… Oh, My!

So New Year’s came and went—as did our resolutions. I think we can all begrudgingly confess to having put more gym time on our lists. It’s the redheaded stepchild of all resolutions. Most loathe the thought of including it but feel obligated to anyway. Yet, year after year, while resolutions have stayed the same, the gyms have changed.

In New York City—a place once synonymous with prohibition, Studio 54, Times Square strip clubs and overall indulgence—gyms were a rarity. Today, they’re no longer just for the fitness obsessed. They say more about us than Facebook, LinkedIn or OkCupid.

Choosing a gym is about as personal as choosing a doctor or church. No longer just an experiential brand, gyms have become your personal brand. They shape how you wake up in the morning and how you go to bed at night. You loathe it. You love it. You pay your dues. And you keep coming back.

When I first moved to NYC as a naïve, spirited and broke college grad, I envied those who held the magical card that granted them access through the glamorous entryways of Equinox, Health & Racquet, Reebok Club and Soho House. […]

Continue Reading

Personal Branding and the 2012 Olympics

September 26, 2012 — Lucila Tessi

The London Games was an extraordinary spectacle, to say the least. The Opening Ceremonies—from Her Majesty’s 007 helicopter mission to the grazing sheep in the stadium—poked fun at the host nation’s eccentric and quirky stripes. But what about the real stars of the show, the athletes?

We saw some new faces, and some familiar ones we’ve come to love, who represented their countries with grit and grace during competition. But the Games were not without its fair share of scandalous news—the Chinese Badminton team losing matches on purpose; soccer goalies cursing out other players; Olympians who rebelled against Rule 40 that prohibited athletic participants from appearing in advertising during the Games. Not to mention, all the supposed “hook-ups” going on in the Olympic village!

But now that the games have been over for a good month, my eyes turn to the after effects of the athletes-turned-celebrities. Which ones have and will work to turn themselves into brands and cash in? Can a person BE a “brand?” There is mixed opinions about this. Some argue that one needs to be able to physically purchase and own a “brand” for the individual to be labeled as one; others believe it’s more […]

Continue Reading

Where Did the “United” Go?

September 14, 2012 — Jennifer Curulli

No two uniforms alike!

First off, let me say how much I love the Olympics—I love the national spirit it induces, I love the competition, I love watching athletics at their purest form. However, a few weeks ago, while catching highlights of the 2012 Summer Games in London, I noticed something that I did NOT like about these Olympics (shocking, I know), and specifically, about the American athletic apparel: There was no consistency in their uniform design.

As a designer, I found myself watching more of the events just to see if my observations held true. Sadly, they did.

Diving, swimming, gymnastics, track & field, volleyball (beach and indoor), soccer – none of these teams shared a consistent logo, color, pattern or anything else on their uniforms. How could this be? How could the “United” States of America have no unifying brand mark? Okay, so two sports had semi-similar uniforms: men’s track & field and men’s basketball. Their jersey logos seemed to reflect the same font, only laid out in different directions (see below top right photo and above top right photo).

Just three little letters marching to the beat of their own drum

“USA” was used […]

Continue Reading

A Crucial Catch

November 1, 2011 — Joshua Books


When October rolls around, most think about carving pumpkins and dressing up in costumes. But for a diehard NFL fan like myself, pink has replaced Halloween’s iconic black and orange as the unofficial colors of the month.



In partnership with the American Cancer Society, the National Football League is wrapping up their third annual “A Crucial Catch” campaign. This national platform enhances Breast Cancer Awareness both in and out of stadiums, urging women aged 40+ to undergo annual mammogram screenings.


During this month players and coaches have been wearing exclusive pink apparel ranging from hats and jerseys to towels and cleats. Referees are flipping commemorative coins and ribbon stencils hug the 50-yard line every Sunday. Special game balls, along with on-field authentic apparel are being auctioned off ( to benefit the American Cancer Society.


Similar to all TV infomercials, but wait – there’s more! The NFL has also partnered with corporate sponsors P&G, PepsiCo, Barclays, and others to launch strategically targeted campaigns. New York quarterbacks Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez teamed up with PepsiCo to meet Breast Cancer survivors and convey to a national audience the inspiration they received in this video (Please […]

Continue Reading

‘Bron Brand Bumble

July 15, 2010 — David Kim

By David K.

When exactly did our beloved ballers become viewed, exclusively, as BRAND?

Was it 1984, when David Falk took a lanky, Carolina Airness into the endorsement stratosphere and turned Swoosh into fan-crazed sacrament?  (The same birth year, I might add, of another mind-controlling, trance-inducer—the first Mac. Maybe Orwell had it right: Is it too far-fetched to cast corporate marketers in the role of “Big Brother?”) Or, was it much, much later—July 8, 2010—at the altar of ESPN’s The Decision, the Net Generation’s re-enactment of Greek myth-temple worship masquerading as slam dunk reality TV?

“I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” revealed LeBron James on the program, officially driving a stake into the aortas of the Cleveland faithful.  With that, a bewildered 10 million viewers were then lured into a bath of brand-baptism following his on-air announcement—10 minutes of some peripheral, some explicit brand exposure on the tube, the equivalent of roughly $3 million of comparable broadcast-exposure value. VitaminWater, the University of Phoenix, and Bing, were just a few.

Reactions to LeBron’s logorama-confessional have been swift and critical: “the Championship of Me,” “sycophantish idolatry,” and “arrogant exercise,” were but a few, and downright genteel compared to Cavs owner […]

Continue Reading