NBA Tells Fans: “Eat My Logo”

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A good logo can be many things: a representative, a sign, a ‘face’ for your company. The list goes on and on. However, few people would consider a basketball logo a great thing to eat for lunch. If the NBA has their way, this just may change.

As the National Basketball Association surely knows, sports fans are among the most avid brand enthusiasts in the world. People will do just about anything to show their support for their favorite team. We see sports logos on jackets, posters, even furniture. Now, we will be able to see our favorite team’s logo on our food, most notably pizza. If this is successful, sports logos may be creeping into a wide array of foods, including groceries and takeout.

Many people have already seen similar images available in cake decorating. Made of starch, sugar, and food coloring, these logos are basically edible decals. They have little or no taste, but offer the same printing resolution as your average sheet of paper—but they are completely edible and don’t interfere with the taste of the food they adorn. Now, NBA logos will be printed in edible decals similar to those made for cakes to be placed on a variety of foods, most notably pizzas. Made to complement the taste of the pizza, these logos will add about five dollars to the price of each pie.

All of the NBA’s teams will be available, although certain locations may opt not to offer the logos of their community’s rivals. The edible logo will be placed on the pizza after it has been cooked, and will then melt into the cheese and other toppings. The result: a pizza with a picture perfect image of your favorite team’s logo and mascot.

Although the idea sounds preposterous at first, this new reach in branding probably is due to the economic recession. Sales of licensed sports items fell about 17% last year in North America. Because licensed merchandise makes up a hefty chunk of the association’s income, it is important now more than ever to keep sales increasing, or at least stable. Thanks to nontraditional licensing opportunities—such as pizza—the NBA is hoping that their licensed sales will actually increase slightly this year.

If pizza logos prove to be a success, this may be the first of many licensed food choices. For example, toasters that toast your favorite NBA logo right into your favorite bread are already poised to hit the market. Panini presses with NBA logos are also in the development phases. NBA executives claim that these will not only promote your favorite NBA teams; they will encourage young basketball fans to make good food choices as well.

What can we all learn from edible NBA logos? While it is unlikely that your customers will pay five dollars to see your name or logo design on their pizza, this is a good example of creative branding. When traditional licensing opportunities began to decline, the NBA began to develop more unconventional avenues for both income and marketing. If your business wants to achieve the same success, you must display the same flexibility.