Islanders brand should grow in Brooklyn

A view outside the Barclays Center on the

A view outside the Barclays Center on the day the Islanders announced their relocation to Brooklyn in 2015 at the arena. (Oct. 24, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

The Nets' move to Brooklyn already has been a spectacular marketing and re-branding success, even before the team has played its first regular-season game there.

Can the Islanders' repeat that kind of magic during and after their move to the borough?

"I think playing in the Nassau Coliseum for the past decade has been a drain on the franchise and on the fans," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "This will be uplifting, to say the least."

There are several things working against the Islanders in matching what the Nets have done, branding expert Peter Shankman said.

First, the Nets were there first. Second, basketball generally is more popular than hockey. Third, the Islanders have no plans to change their name or logo to reflect the move.

Regarding reason No. 1, Shankman said, "It's like you're trying to follow this incredible announcement. At best you seem like a hanger-on and at worst no one cares."

Regarding No. 2, he said, "Will they be able to grow that brand? Of course they will. But let's be honest: I love hockey, but it's not basketball."

Shankman suggested the team embrace the fact hockey traditionally is not as familiar in urban areas as basketball is.

"If I were in marketing I would target a whole new campaign based on: What is hockey?" he said.

Michael Stone, CEO of the Beanstalk Group, a brand licensing agency, called the Islanders' move another phase in developer Bruce Ratner's plan to brand the Barclays Center "as an iconic sports venue, similar to Madison Square Garden."

Despite the Islanders' announcement that they would not change their name and logo, Stone said, "The move should generate renewed interest in the team and its merchandise, as well as ultimately garner more traffic for the Barclays Center."

While it is unclear whether Nets part-owner Jay-Z is inclined to become a hockey fan, the Islanders could benefit by association with the Nets, their long-ago co-tenants at Nassau Coliseum, given their new and improved image. "You can cross sell, cross market, create value for ticket-holders and sponsors," Barclays CEO Brett Yormark said of the Nets-Islanders relationship. "That, I think, is the dream. I think everyone benefits."

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