• Jackson Clark

Sports Branding - Jay Z, Rap Culture & The Brooklyn Nets

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

You can spot a strong brand a mile away.

A strong brand is so powerful that it transcends its original product or service. If a worldwide, globally-recognised brand like Coca-Cola announced for some reason it was creating a sports team, people would – even if just on a subconscious level – have an idea of what they would look like and how they would operate.

Rapper and recording artist Jay Z is a strong brand. Born and raised in New York, the acclaimed artist boasts a net worth of a billion dollars.

(C) Prince Williams/Getty Images

The New Jersey Nets were founded in 1967, originally joining the American Basketball Association before being admitted into the NBA in 1976. The Nets are yet to win an NBA championship and have often struggled in the shadows of the bigger – but equally success-deprived – basketball team in New York, the Knicks.

In the early 2010s, the franchise announced it would be relocating to Brooklyn and enlisted the help of our man we mentioned before, Jay Z. Having the rap guru as the club’s brand advisor proved to be an exciting new opportunity and the franchise took his advice on everything from general branding, uniform design and colour selection to music selection and security practices at home games.


In 2012, the Brooklyn Nets unveiled a sleek black-and-white logo and on-field kit to complement a range of lifestyle clothing that gives off hip-hop vibes. Designers adopted a minimalist approach and they are the only NBA team to feature black and white as its two primary colours. The brand’s simplicity provides a striking contrast when compared to the louder colours of rival franchises.

(C) Brooklyn Nets/Errol Anderson

The Nets wanted to be not just a basketball team, but also a fashion statement, and they succeeded becoming cool again. There was an emphasis on representing the Brooklyn region and dissociating itself from the Knicks.

(C) Patch

Fast forward to the current day and Brooklyn’s uniform is still telling stories about the neighbourhood’s storied history and lasting impact on music, art and culture. The branding captures the demographics of the area and supporter-base, which helps sports team’s identity and increases fan loyalty.

It is fair to say that Jay Z has 99 Problems … But A Poorly Branded Basketball Franchise Ain’t One.