The Brooklyn Nets were established in 1967 as the New Jersey Americans, a charter member of the American Basketball Association. The team relocated to Long Island, New York in 1968 and rebranded as the New York Nets. Behind the play of Julius “Dr. J” Erving, the team would go on to win the ABA championship in two of the final three seasons of the ABA before joining the NBA in the 1976 ABA-NBA merger along with the Nuggets, Pacers and Spurs. The team returned to New Jersey the following season and played as the New Jersey Nets until 2012 when a new ownership group led by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov moved the team to Brooklyn, becoming the Brooklyn Nets.
In keeping with their original ‘Americans’ moniker, the Nets franchise used various combinations of red, white and blue during their time playing as the New York and New Jersey Nets. The franchise’s logos have generally featured a ‘Nets’ wordmark paired with a basketball.
The team adopted its current black-and-white color scheme as part of the Brooklyn Nets rebrand in 2012, with the redesign led by Brooklyn native, rapper and producer Jay-Z.
The primary logo, which was introduced in 2012, is a flattened version of the Nets’ previous primary logo, which featured the ‘Nets’ wordmark hugging the top of a basketball inside of a shield with a hoop around the ball, rotated along the Z axis, to give it a 3D look. The current version is strictly 2D, in simple black and white. The basketball now features a large ‘B’ and ‘Brooklyn’ appears below the shield. The design is simple but loses points for its retro look. The old-fashioned design language is intended to evoke the look of sports, public transportation, etc. from the Brooklyn Dodgers era. The partial primary logo is the shield used on its own without the ‘Brooklyn’ wordmark. The design is well-balanced in terms of color but not layout. Unlike the previous logo, the current ‘Nets’ wordmark does not match the contour of the basketball nor does it fit neatly inside the top corners of the shield. The ‘Brooklyn’ wordmark could be better incorporated into the design above rather than below the shield. While the previous logo had its own issues, the current logo is huge step backwards in terms of modern design.
The secondary logo is the white basketball from the primary logo, placed inside a black roundel with the ‘Brooklyn’ at the top and ‘New York’ at the bottom. This is by far the cleaner of the two logos. The roundel device is a better fit for the visual identity’s primary element, the white basketball, than the shield which seems to have been kept only to serve as some link to the prior look. The design effectively conveys ‘Brooklyn Basketball’. The logo also comes in a less well-balanced white-and-black version.
The alternate logos are 1.) the white basketball used on its own and 2.) a white B inside a black shield or 3.) a black B inside a white shield.
The white home uniform has the arced ‘Brooklyn’ wordmark and the player number centered below in black with black trim. The road uniform is the same, with the white and black reversed. Both uniforms feature the shield logo on the front left leg of the shorts. The uniforms are clean and simple, with a plain but visually appealing typeface. While retro styling looks somewhat dated, the uniforms are an improvement over the franchise’s previous uniform set which were overly complicated.
In 2013, the Nets introduced a grey and blue pride uniform intended to pay homage to the old Brooklyn Dodgers. The uniform uses the same template as the other uniforms, albeit with sleeves. In 2014, the team added a white-and-black alternate uniform based on the Nets uniforms worn from 1972-81 and again from 1984-90, which featured stars and stripes on the left side of the uniform.
Neither the ‘Nets’ nickname nor the black-and-white color scheme hold any particular significance for Brooklyn. The ‘Nets’ name was originally chosen, in part, to match the naming scheme of two other New York-based sports franchises, the Jets and the Mets. The team’s subsequent return to New Jersey and eventual move to Brooklyn negated the ‘New York _ets’ connection. The typeface is intended to evoke Brooklyn nostalgia and draw on its reputation as a hip-hop and hipster haven.
The Nets are one of five teams whose road uniform is black. The Nets are the first and only team with a black-and-white color scheme, and one of only two (along with the Celtics) to have no additional trim or accent colors.
The Nets are one of eight teams with a primary or secondary roundel logo, but get credit for being the first of the seven teams to introduce the design over the last three years.
The Nets’ get a perfect score for consistency. The use of colors and typeface are consistent throughout all applications and the Brooklyn ‘B’ appears on every version of the logo set.
Points to Improve
- Reconfigure the layout of wordmark inside the shield logo to better fit the contours of the shape.
- Alternately, retire the current primary logo and promote the secondary roundel logo to primary status.
- Expand the side striping into a full side panel and add a subtle, same-color sublimated net pattern similar to that used on the Nets uniforms from 1997-2012.
NBA Branding Assessment Ranking
All writings contained herein are copyright ©2015 Brian F. Sanford. All intellectual property including but not limited to names, logos and uniforms are properties of the National Basketball Association, its member teams, ownership groups and/or organizations. All images are used for noncommercial educational purposes. No copyright infringement is intended.