It’s not a stretch to say that the first season in Brooklyn was a huge success for the Nets. They played in front of a 97 percent capacity crowd, merchandise sale revenue went from 31st to fourth, and Forbes reported that the franchise’s value jumped an amazing 48 percent in less than a full season.
For Nets CEO Brett Yormark that success was based on more than just a 49-win season and a new arena, it came thanks to the successful building of Brooklyn as a lifestyle-brand.
“For us, developing the lifestyle brand gave consumers a multitude of reasons to like us,” Yormark told Darren Heitner of Forbes. “They like us because we wore Brooklyn every night. They advocate ‘Brand Brooklyn’. They like us because they like black and white; it is a timeless color palette. People like us because of our connectivity to the entertainment world and Jay Z; that was a motivator for some consumers. Other consumers like us because we’re the home team and we’re a basketball team.”
Even after tremendous success the first season the Nets aren’t satisfied. On the court, owner Mikhail Prokhorov has spared no expense in putting out the best team. After the trade with the Celtics that added Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to an already impressive core that included Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez, the Nets will spend roughly $189 million on payroll and luxury taxes.
Away from the court, they are still looking to build that Brooklyn brand as they hope to “turn up the heat” with the fans.
“You want to turn up the heat on the fans and give them a reason to go from casual to hardcore,” Yormark said. “It takes time to do that, but ultimately that’s what you want.”
Clearly the Nets feel like the best way to do that is to give Brooklyn a championship. That’s precisely why they’ve spent what they have and stand to lose as much as $50 million this season. Because, when it comes down to it, building the brand is what’s most important. $50 million is nothing if they can have another 48 percent jump in the franchise’s value. And they won’t be able to do that without hardcore Brooklyn fans.