5 Promotional Apparel Lessons From the 2018 NBA Playoff T-shirts
We hate to brag, but we actually understand all the rules of basketball, so we enjoy watching the NBA playoffs (no offense, Wimbledon, we just can't follow your scoring system). While we've been spending a lot of nights screaming at our TV about refs not calling fouls and players faking injuries, there's one aspect of the playoffs that we still get the most passionate about: NBA playoff T-shirts.
The NBA playoffs are always a great time for teams to showcase their branding skills, but they're also an opportunity for them to publicly fail, and big time.
With that in mind, we've learned a lot from 2018's NBA playoff T-shirts, and we think there's some promotional apparel tips to be learned.
Keep reading for our five lessons, and you'll be feeling like a big baller in no time. (Yes, we made this gif ourselves to drive our point home.)
1. Focus on Fonts
The @cavs debut their #NBAPlayoffs t-shirts with the #WhateverItTakes slogan. The Cavaliers are known to rotate t-shirt colors at each home game, debut with the popular black colored t-shirts. The player shooting shirts are the wine colored shirts. https://t.co/LNFZyWM6dY pic.twitter.com/y4Ql6Te6us
— Caleb (@chomeres) April 15, 2018
We can't tell you how many times we've see a font tank an entire T-shirt promotion. The idea is good, but the execution fails. In our opinion, the Cavs are the worst offender in this area. They can't seem to choose a font that doesn't look awful.
2. Don't Overdo It
April 22, 2018@spurs show more love for their catch phrase with another t-shirt while the @WashWizards and @Pacers opt for rally towels. (Pacers first team not to specifically showcase their giveaway.)
— ❄️❄️ Will Eidam ❄️❄️ (@CornFedDuck) April 23, 2018
Another problem we've come across a few times this NBA playoff season is the attempt to cram too much onto a tee. You need a good slogan, a good font and a good logo. Done. Check out the Spurs photo above for exactly what I'm talking about. That is just too busy.
We're actually fans of the Spurs' warm-up shirt for the playoffs, seen below. That is branded apparel well executed, although we could have done without the block font. It's just confusing.
— Trenches (@trenches_) April 20, 2018
3. Think Long Term
We really like what the Raptors have been doing with their NBA playoff tees. Each shirt fits in the same theme, but obviously, fans are going to want them all. For your next promotional apparel promotion, consider doing several items in the same campaign, but adjust each one to be slightly different. They'll become instant collectibles.
Here we have "Grit Over Given":
Here's your 1:00pm weather update...
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 25, 2018
They did the same thing with "North Over Everything" and "Hustle Over Hype".
It's too bad the Raptors didn't stick with this theme for the entire playoff season, since their next round of tees was not great. This is so confusing:
— NextSportStar.com (@NextSportStar) May 1, 2018
4. Presentation is Everything
Your promotional apparel is important, but what's also important (and often overlooked) is the presentation. Whether it's picking the right packaging, or choosing the right labels, presentation earns major points from your clients.
While hard to imitate on this grand scale, the Utah Jazz did an amazing job with their T-shirt giveaway presentation.
How about a round of applause for the job well done by the @utahjazz the alternate court, uniforms and the different colored fan T-shirt’s were executed to perfection. Now it’s time for the W. #TakeNote #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/fOphzJcMkG
— Good Sports Only Podcast (@GSO_Podcast) April 22, 2018
5. Think of the End-User
A lot of times, these T-shirts are designed to look good on the seats, and then subsequently, look good on the army of fans. But what's even more important is thinking of the fans themselves. What kind of slogans would they like to see? What surprises will they enjoy? It's those T-shirts that stand out as favorites, and those T-shirts will be worn far into the future.
The Sixers did a great job with their PHILA Unite playoff tee:
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 24, 2018
And, we know it's heresy for us, a Philly-based website, to include Boston's giveaway tee for their game against the Sixers, but we like what they did with theirs too. It's an homage to their famed "Beat LA" slogan, but with an obvious upgrade:
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 30, 2018
So, for your next promotional apparel campaign, make sure you're keeping the end-user in mind. Work with your client to make sure you've got a logo design they approve of, but work with your experts to determine what will make the end-user happy.