Notice anything different with the basketball hardwood this March Madness?
The NCAA has implemented a complete “packaging” change for this year’s men’s basketball tournament.
The most important new design feature is highlighting the “March Madness” brand with a giant center court logo. It replaces the blue, circular NCAA logo. That’s a smart brand management marketing move.
The NCAA has been on a branding mission the last ten years with its tournament court designs. Before that, long-time fans will remember seeing a range of wild and wacky school logo and mascot designs in arenas across the country.
That became too jarring for the NCAA or its TV partners, or both. Rightly so.
The NCAA wanted to present a visually cohesive on-court viewing experience that promoted the tournament, not individual schools or arenas. So, they made a basketball court design change in 2007:
“All games starting with the Sweet 16 were played on courts with the same design—a light-colored floor with blue paint at the top of the key and the host site written in blue on the baseline. Beginning in 2010, all tournament games until the Final Four were played on courts with that design.”
Now, for the 2016 tournament, the NCAA, working with partner Connor Sports, has introduced a complete re-branding of the court design:
“Each court has a slightly different color scheme, which the NCAA says will help TV viewers differentiate the sites as they flip from game to game.”
Harvey Chimoff is a versatile marketing and business team leader who believes good marketing sells. Contact him at harveychimoff dot com.