Pro-Am Team Branding Tip #1: Don’t Steal

Alright, it’s time to have that talk. The one you all knew was coming.

You can’t use copyrighted names, looks, logos, tag lines, or any other brand property for your Pro-Am teams. Ever. Period. Non-negotiable.

Can you get away it right now? Sure. Call yourselves The New Lakers, or the 2K Globetrotters, or the Just Do Its. You won’t get caught today. You (probably?) won’t get cease-and-desisted. But 2K is growing in player base and notoriety. Players and teams are becoming celebrities in our space. Next year, eLeague will look to turn the game’s best into household names. That’s when it’ll matter that you stole some brand’s line, and that’s when you’ll wish you made changes earlier.

Take reigning NBA2K All-Star Tournament Champions Still Trill.

Dimez in Still Trill’s home unis at the 2K All-Star Tournament

We all agree that the red / gold color scheme is fire. It’s a damn shame they had to strip the logo off their unis for the All-Star Tourney. That’s the Vancouver Grizzlies’ old bear logo. Still Trill confirmed via Twitter that they had to remove the logo for broadcasted games.

Now, we know no one’s actively trying to steal or infringe on copyright. We’re all just trying to have a good time w/ strong team aesthetic. But again — this game’s gonna hit critical mass at some point. If you’re already building a legacy as a team or player, you don’t want to have to change that after you’ve built your audience.

Here’s the TL;DR:

  • Don’t use any brand names (Nike, Subway, Space Jam, Tune Squad), slogans / tag lines (Just Do It, Eat Fresh, What’s Up Doc?), names based on copyrighted material (Swoosh, Three Stripes), or any other words that someone’s probably spent money around. Not in your team name, your gamertag, or anywhere else.
  • Don’t use any images created by a brand or property (the Nike Swoosh, the Jumpman, The Tune Squad Logo). Don’t put them on your jerseys, courts, or anything else. No exceptions. If you can’t afford to get a custom logo made, hold off until you can — you don’t want to build an identity around something you can’t sustain.

These are strictly legal requirements. We’ll get into the best ways to choose your name, look, and logo in a different piece.

Follow @ZeroTo2K on Twitter for more 2K tips & conversation.

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