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The Quality of MLB’s New Jerseys: Brand Codes 101

Brands spend a lot of time thinking about their brand…if they are smart. 


For major businesses, your brand can be worth 30-40% of the total valuation of your business. 

For a small business, your brand and your name are likely the only thing you have that is standing between you and the commodity abyss. 

That’s why these continuing stories about the new Major League Baseball jerseys is interesting because sports teams have some of the best brands in the world, but I also feel that far too many of them don’t give them the attention that they deserve.

So, to hear players complain about the color, the fonts, and the look is amazing because this is Brand Codes 101 stuff. 

What are Brand Codes?

These are the symbols that represent your brand in the market. 

  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Images
  • Places
  • Smells
  • Etc. 

Here are a few examples that I like:

  • The Apple logo. 
  • The shape of the Green Monster at Fenway Park.
  • The black and white with a touch of red at Sephora. 
  • The smell of the lobby at the Four Seasons in Miami.

Let’s take a short visit with Brand Codes:

  • Small LetteringA seemingly small item, but when you see the picture of the White Sox’s pitcher, you notice that there is a difference between how the name on the back of a jersey would typically look. 
  • Look and FeelAs a brand manager, you spend a lot of time making sure the look and feel of your brand is consistent. Think about the Tiffany Blue bag. Think about the heft of a Mont Blanc pen. Now, consider the words that players were using to describe MLB’s new jerseys as “cheap”
  • Be Careful Your PartnersA lot of blowback is coming onto Fanatics. When you have a brand partner, you usually can combine them in the best way. You bring your good stuff, I bring my good stuff, and the bad stuff stays behind. In this case, Fanatics’ problems are undermining that deal and people are calling out Nike for partnering with Fanatics, who has a long list of bad press from quality control issues. 
  • Off Color: The player talking about the Cubs’ blue needing to be the right color blue sums up everything. Your brand might be spending a boatload of money developing its own signature color and you just don’t pay attention to make sure it is right or doesn’t look right on one of your two most important items, after your hat? 

What does this mean to you? 

To manage your brand well:

  • Pay attention to the details: Look and feel, lettering, colors, these are the public faces of your brand. Don’t neglect them and hope people won’t notice. They will. 
  • Partners are important: Creating a brand partnership is a very important decision. It is typically thought that you can bring your good stuff and the other brand brings their good stuff, leaving behind the bad, but this case study shows that this isn’t always the case. So be careful who you work with. 
  • Deliver consistently: The only reason this story matters is because these teams have been talking with their fans for decades, people will notice when things are off or inconsistent. You don’t want to fall into that trap. You make a promise, you deliver. 

What do you think? 

Let me know your thoughts on Brand Codes:

  • Do you have them for your business? 
  • Do you know what they are?
  • Which ones that other brands use are ones you instantly notice? 

Reply to me. Share in the Slack Channel

I’m going to start posting some new podcast episodes and I want your help! 

  • Who would you like to hear from?
  • What would you like me to talk about? 

Send me your suggestions. 

You’ve made it to the bottom here…why don’t you share this note with someone that might need to rethink how they are using their brand codes are how important those codes are.