The NBA season is only a few bounces away and this year fans will cheer for a newly branded team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Yes, Seattle's storied franchise, the Seattle Super Sonics, relocated and also changed their name.
Normally, when a team relocates the name, logo, and colors transfer with the franchise. Following a legal settlement to relocate to Oklahoma City, Clay Bennett, the new team owner, agreed to release the Sonics' naming rights and affiliated marketing material to any future NBA team in the Seattle area.
Did Bennett also release the brand's equity in the process? Although the Sonics have struggled in recent years, the franchise's 40 year history has developed the team into a household name. It will take years to restore the same brand familiarity with the Thunder.
When the Lakers moved from Minneapolis in 1960, the team's name transferred to Los Angeles, which preserved the brand's equity. When a conglomerate acquires a company, the underlying value is the name, icon and familiarity of the brand. As the Thunder roars forward, will Bennett hear value with his decision?