Branding / Leagues / Marketing


NBA Global Games brand

Author Kyle O'Malley, University of San Francisco

Posted: October 24, 2015

Tagged: branding / leagues

The NBA has been working very hard to create an international brand for quite some time now. “The NBA’s growing base of Chinese commercial partners are flexing their marketing muscles behind the NBA Global Games, which begin this week in Milan and continue in Europe, China, and South America” (Lefton, 2015, Para 1). A vital part of brand equity lies within the brand image. Brand image can be defined as “the strength, uniqueness, and favorability of the associations with the brand” (Gladden, 2014, p. 5). The uniqueness of these games created by the NBA has certainly improved the brand image of the league on both a national and international level. With increased backing from large commercial companies in China, the image is also become much stronger from a financial standpoint as well.

Global Games also prove as a positive for FIBA and their respective teams who are given the opportunity to play against NBA-caliber players. From this perspective, it is very much a win-win for both sides. The NBA brand will have a positive light shed on it for facilitating a beneficial experience for consumers and international players. Essentially, the NBA is improving its favorability with respective consumers by expanding the locations which they play games in.

There are many sport brand attributes which will help draw in consumers. The coaches, players, and success of these NBA teams who many international fans look up to and idolize can now be seen in person without travel constraints. Moving from sport brand attributes, we use these positives to develop brand benefits. Brand benefits are, “the meanings and value consumers derive from the consumption of the sport product” (Gladden, 2014, p. 9). Being able to see these coaches and players in their home arenas is an undeniable benefit. These games entrench a unique, positive, and beneficial attitude in the minds of these consumers. Once the attributes, benefits, and attitudes have been promoted fans are left with a special feeling of loyalty for the NBA teams who agreed to travel and play in front of them. Building brand loyalty through these games is a tremendous piece of how the NBA continues to grow its already vast international market. The product they have created within these games leaves consumers with a great feeling.

The logo design which the NBA chose to use for these global games has some perceptual design principles which should appeal even more to consumers. Perceptual design principles have a direct influence on the “ease, speed, and accuracy with which design elements can be realized” (Malkewitz & Bee, 2014, p. 91). In the first global game of this series, located in Milan, the logo has some clear messages and appeals being made. The colors chosen for this logo include green, white, and red; the three colors of the Italian flag. The order in which the colors are portrayed from the outside in is the same order of the national flag. Over the course of all NBA Global Game logos for each country which it is playing in, the logo designs are extremely similar. Through these three perceptual pieces, consumers can certainly recognize the messages being sent in an easy, quick, and accurate manner.

It is important for us to recognize the significance of the name which we create for an event, team, organization, etc. You want to create a name that will “help support the position being taken. Names should suggest desired associations and excitement” (Dalakas & Rose, 2014, p. 112-113). The NBA titling these international exhibitions as the “Global Games” illustrates this point. While games are only played in a handful of international countries, calling it the Global Games invites consumers and fans from all countries to participate through attendance or at the very least viewership from their home countries. This is the position which the NBA is looking to take. So far, based on the money being used to help market it through partners and other sponsorship activations like the one’s in China, the NBA is excelling at their marketing attempts to become an extensive global brand for all.



Dalakas, V., & Rose, G. (2014). Developing Brand Identity in Sport: Lions, and Tigers, and Bears Oh My. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 109-122). New York, NY: Routledge.

Gladden, J. (2014). Brand Equity: Management and Measurement in Sport. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 3-20). New York, NY: Routledge.

Lefton, T. (2015, October 5). NBA sponsors throw activation support behind Global Games. SportsBusiness Journal, 18(25). Retrieved from

Malketwitz, K., & Bee, C. (2014). Undertaking Successful Brand Design in Sport. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 89-108). New York, NY: Routledge.

Milan to host Boston Celtics as part of NBA Global Games Europe 2015. (2015, June 3). EuroLeague Basketball. Retrieved from

About Kyle O'Malley, University of San Francisco

Kyle is a first-year student in the University of San Francisco Sport Management master’s program. He is currently involved in a multitude of areas including football and stadium operations at UC Berkeley, Strength and Conditioning graduate intern at Saint Ignatius Prep School, Warriors Camps Coach for the Golden State Warriors, and the Freshman Basketball Head Coach at Archbishop Riordan. Kyle is extremely interested in working on the team and player side of collegiate and professional sports. Specifically, Kyle aspires to become a scout, coach, or front office executive within professional football, basketball, or baseball based on his previous and current experiences in those capacities. Kyle was born and raised in San Diego where he attended Grossmont College to obtain his Business Administration associate’s degree and play baseball. He then transferred to San Diego State University where he worked for the San Diego State Men’s Basketball team as a student manager throughout his time there. During one of his summer’s between school he worked for the Philadelphia 76ers during their Sixers Camps. Kyle can be contacted at This article is an adapted version of a paper submitted for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing course.

IImage by Cliff "Michael Jordan, Blue Dunk, Lisle, IL, 1987", Accessed via Creative Commons license.