It’s about connecting with fans. It’s about communicating. It’s about building a brand.
Fans want a team to rally around, a team we can be proud of, and believe in, and support, a team that is relevant to who we are as a group. Fans want to be loyal.
Of course winning football games has an awful lot to do with it, but other factors have significant influence. Especially if it takes time to build a contender.
But if winning the Division, or making the Playoffs is years down the road, other things will be needed to generate, and then maintain, fan support. One of those things is their visual appearance. Nike proved that visual presentation can be a powerful tool in building customer loyalty. The same applies to fan loyalty.
How can the uniforms contribute you ask?
Excitement and revenue.
They can create the first and generate the second. Concerning increasing revenue, the Texans seem to want to provide more options to jersey buyers than just one or two color schemes. They probably ascribe to the notion that more options equals increased sales of jerseys. But it also dilutes the value of the apparel as a brand symbol. Nevertheless, consider the success both on the field and off the field of one of the color schemes offered: the Texans’ Battle Red jerseys.
Red Hot Jersey Sales!
The red jerseys were instantly popular when introduced and the team is undefeated this year when wearing them. Add to that the fact that sales of red jerseys are now hotter than the blue or white versions. And the Texans sold 50,000 red wristbands at $1 each benefiting the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center. During the days surrounding the Texan’s “Battle Red Day” the website drew record traffic. And Academy Sports and Outdoors has also benefited as the official “Houston Texans Battle Red Day” retailer.
Why is “Battle Red” so popular?
As colors go, the Texans’ regular predominantly dark blue color scheme is dull visually. The red jerseys are far more exciting and distinctive on the playing field. There is a physiological explanation for that: The color red is focused slightly in front of the retinas in the eyes while blue, on the other hand, is focused slightly behind the retinas in the eyes. Because of this, red is the color of energy and excitement. Red is the “in your face” color. This explains why red is the predominant color in 45% of all national flags. Blue dominates in less than 20%. Blue is peaceful and tranquil. Blue is the laid-back color. “Battle Red” makes more sense than “Battle Blue” as a phrase, it resonates in the marketplace (as evidenced by the cash register receipts).
Add to that the fact that the Texans’ blue is a very dark blue and the result is a receding, shy, or conservative effect. A nice effect for a sport coat or blazer, but hardly the effect appropriate for an aggressive sport like football. As a secondary color, dark blue is a nice compliment to Battle Red. But all indications are, Battle Red should have been the primary color. It seems management in the beginning, may not have had a visual communications strategy to support their team goals. Visual identity should be carefully thought out and carefully managed, not decided on a whim. Not ignored or treated lightly. Visual identity should be strategic: relevant, distinctive, credible.
Distinctiveness has its Advantages.
With the dark blue or white jerseys, it is not easy to distinguish between the Texans’ players and many opponents during action on the field. For example, when the Houston Texans are playing the Patriots, Cowboys, Bears, Bills, Giants, Falcons, Ravens or Panthers, it takes a second to determine who’s who after the snap. And the red jersey outfit resembles Atlanta’s red outfit since the Texan’s blue is so dark it’s almost black – a softened black.
Teams most easily distinguishable are the Steelers, Bucs, and Packers because they have the most distinctive color schemes. No confusion. Distinctive color schemes could even impact a quarterback’s completion/interception ratio, especially when he is under pressure and has to make snap decisions.
Non-verbal communication is critical.
Even in the game of football. The coach on the sideline sends non-verbal signals to the quarterback. The quarterback send non-verbal signals to the wide receivers. Signals are sent from the coach to the defensive backs; and the referees identify all of the penalties and touchdowns, touchbacks and extra points with non-verbal signals.
In the same way, the team’s uniform also sends signals. The logo (or graphic symbol), the logotype (or signature), the colors and the patterns – all send signals to viewers.
Make the signals as meaningful as possible.
Do the signals correspond to their intended meanings. Are they appropriate signals? Will they communicate effectively? Or will they confuse (or worse, contradict) the message?
The Texans’ uniforms should contribute to their fullest potential. The fans have spoken. They’ve voted with their dollars. They prefer “excitement” to “tranquility” when it comes to pro football. Go “Battle Red!”