Editor’s Pick: Should fans be worried about too much branding on team kits?

The player kits have lost the designing edge as aesthetics have been replaced by branding, so should fans worry that thrill for kits for their favourite kits will die?

There was a mixed response from Indian cricket fans when BCCI released photos of the retro kits that were worn during the white-ball series against Australia. The kit was modelled on the navy-blue outfit that was won by the Indian team during the World Cup in 1992. There was no doubt about the design of the kit as it resembled the retro jersey, but the number of brands on the shirt took the shine off it.

It has been a recurring occurrence that sports have become a platform for brands to get exposure. The brands across various industries try to be involved in sports. IPL has been one of the few tournaments where brands are visible in every section of the kit. The romantic fans can tolerate so much branding, but international teams may offend many fans as it spoils the essence of the jersey on most occasions.

Be cooperative in designs

Teams cannot do anything about it as advertising is one of the big sources of revenue for them. Moreover, money is needed to run a franchise or board, so abandoning sponsors cannot be the solution to appease fans. One thing that can surely be done is making better designs that can accommodate the sponsors without destroying the aesthetics.

There have been few iconic kits in different sports that haven’t looked out of place even with branding. Team India’s kit during the last tour of India vs England in 2018 is a thing of beauty despite having Oppo in front of the kit. Just compare it to the current kit where Byju’s dominates the kit rather than enhancing the kit. Moreover, kit manufacturers can also look to use the minimal approach that designers use in other industries, satisfying brands without damaging the look of kits.

Indian kit in 2018 had a good blend of aesthetics and branding
Indian kit in 2018 had a good blend of aesthetics and branding

Kit manufacturers can become innovative to please fans

Another aspect that manufacturing kits and teams can explore is releasing kits for fans every year. The football clubs in Europe often work with the likes of Adidas, Nike and Puma to release remodelled kits that are available for fans. On a few occasions, fans also get an opportunity to get a few of their concept kits produced by kit manufacturers.

Along with releasing older kits just for fans, home and away kits in cricket would also provide more options for fans rather than sticking to one kit. Despite being under the pressure to have so many brands on the jersey, kit manufacturers can be innovative instead of opting for an easier path.

Yes, fans hate too much branding on kits, but this is the future of sports that they have to accept. The kits have a special place in a fan’s heart. So, it is the responsibility of the sports organization and kit manufacturer to come up with ideas to please all parties. Brands are going to invest in all sports in India in the future and there will be numerous benefits of these investments. Yes, the thrill of kits might be dieing but there will be new ideas that will eventually help benefit fans, brands, and teams.

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