WNBA and American Airlines: Never the twain shall meet

June 2, 2009 in Branding, Sports, Usability

Okay, these two items are pretty random, but together they make an interesting pair. Kinda like my wardrobe. Or Nick Cannon and Mariah.

On the surface there aren’t many commonalities between a women’s professional sports league and the world’s largest airline, but they struggle with what we all do these days: how to make money.

Following the lead of international sports, the Phoenix Mercury have become the first WNBA team to put a sponsor’s name on their jerseys. Under the three-year deal with LifeLock announced Monday, the identity theft protection company’s name will replace the “Phoenix” and “Mercury” across the road and home uniforms, respectively. The team’s logo will appear above the “LifeLock” on the left side.
Mercury jerseys to have LifeLock name across front

The WNBA is a third-tier league, and European clubs have been doing this for years, but this is definitely the highest profile team sponsorship of a U.S.-based sports team. If you contrast the new jerseys with any vehicle in NASCAR though, the differences hit you like a brick. Instead of a simple logo on a mostly sparse jersey, NASCAR seemingly crams in every logo in existence.

Earlier today my friend Liz sent me an interesting article on FastCompany talking about the design difficulties of AA.com.

Designer Dustin Curtis was so disgusted with the American Airlines Web site that he redesigned it, and posted the results as an open letter to the company. Guess what? One of AA’s designers responded with a long defense about why better design dies a slow death at places like AA.
American Airlines Web Site: The Product of a Self-Defeating Design Process

The article says what you would expect, talking about red tape and bureaucracy (complete with obligatory 37signals reference), but the first comment brings up an interesting question: Does simplicity of design always improve revenue? The suggested design is pretty and more pleasing to the eye, but does that actually mean more tickets would be sold?

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