I can’t get enough of the Miami Heat Vice Jersey – but WHY?
Today, the Miami Heat announced they will retire the Miami Heat “Vice” jersey/uniform combination.
Believe it or not the Vice jerseys, and ensuing rebranding of the color scheme of everything from court design, to social media graphics, started back in January of 2018.
At that time, Nike (another great brand) became the official uniform supplier of the NBA.
In addition to the normal home and away jersey, Nike launched a third “City Edition” that allowed each team to draw on regional inspirations for color and design choices.
The Miami Heat named theirs “Vice” after the popular 80s TV show Miami Vice.
Miami went on to sell more Vice jerseys during the 2017-18 season than the City Edition uniforms of all other 29 NBA teams combined.
And it didn’t stop there.
In each of the past four seasons, the Heat have extended the Vice series with a new uniform:
- a black “Vice Nights” edition,
- a fuchsia “Sunset Vice” edition (the first all-pink uniform in NBA history),
- a blue “ViceWave” edition
- and its latest gradient look, called “ViceVersa” that the team has worn this season.
I have loved these jerseys since they came out and own 3 of them for myself. And I bought a D-Wade black Vice Nights jersey for my daughter; her first jersey ever. So 4 total.
A Bulls fan by trade, isn’t this heresy? Why would I purchase another team’s jersey?
Because the design was so good, I had to have it. It CONNECTED with me and I identified with it.
The Miami Heat Vice home court design mirrored the Vice jerseys and the brand.
The colors were crisp and felt energizing. The pink Sunset Vice D-Wade amplified my tan and looked great with a gold chain, shorts (lobster pink DUH), and a pair of Hey Dudes.
The typeface and font was smooth. The colors reminded me of watching a sunset on the Florida coast.
“We had a plan,” said Jennifer Alvarez, the Heat’s vice president for creative and digital marketing, recalling the progression of designs. “We knew we were going white, black, fuchsia and blue. … Then we asked, ‘Are we telling the Vice story in its totality?’
“That’s where ViceVersa came from. We were wrapping a bow around the entire program. … It was important that we go out on top with Vice. We want people to miss it. We want it to be this really incredible moment and potentially position us so that we could explore what it looks like in the future.”
And it wasn’t just me getting sucked in.
The Heat’s marketing department has discovered that design and style – not necessarily individual players, typically the league’s calling card – drove sales.
In the four seasons of the Big Three era (LeBron, D Wade, Chris Bosh) from 2010 to 2014, the Heat sold 190,000 jerseys.
In the four seasons of the Vice era from 2018 to 2021, Miami has sold 245,000 total jerseys. Total revenue of the Miami Heat Vice jersey doubled that of the Big Three era with more than $25 million in sales.
“That was such a great revelation,” Alvarez said. “Because, historically, you look at the top jersey sales across the league, year after year, and it’s player-driven. The year that we released our first Vice uniform, we proved that the design on the front of a jersey can actually be just as powerful, if not more powerful, than the name on the back.”
The original Heat uniforms are also very cool. But the Vice jerseys are SWAGGED OUT
From Michael McCullough, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the Miami Heat: ““We’ve incorporated Vice so much into our brand that it’s not a secondary uniform or a secondary logo or a secondary colorway anymore,” McCullough said. “It is the Heat colorway. We made it part of the Heat brand.”
“A ton of people keep asking us, ‘Why don’t you just make Vice the Heat’s permanent colors?’ ” said McCullough. “And I’m not gonna say we don’t have those conversations internally, because we do. And will we continue to have those conversations? Absolutely. … But that’s a big decision, right? You’re talking about the total identity of a brand. There’s an over 30-year history with this team and there’s a lot of brand equity in red, black and white.”
So in short, the Heat took pre-existing brand equity, and took a risk by leveraging their established brand, to create and sell an entirely new brand.
Even though it was “new,” it drew on subtle elements of the larger brand – color choices on same spectrum of color, font choices, style that was on-brand.
Because they were intentional and developed a brand strategy BEFORE they made a move, they ended up with more success then they expected.
So, why take it away? Won’t that cut into sales?
The answer is YES – for now.
Look at how Popeye’s leveraged the Spicy Chicken Sandwich. They created a firestorm around not being able to keep it in stock, so “ya better get it while we have it.” Then on top of that, the sandwich was good. In short it delivered on the experiences consumers expected.
Another food item by another well-run, intentional brand: The McRib from McDonald’s.
The limited nature of its availability has led to insane demands from consumers (ex. a petition to make it a regular menu item).
The sandwich, like the Vice jersey, at some point, stops being a sandwich — It becomes a part of a consumers personal brand.
And with it, part of their identity, or how they feel and define themselves.
I’ll admit I feel at least 25% cooler when I’m wearing one of my Miami Heat Vice jerseys. And so do a lot of other people.
And when the Heat decide to roll out the jerseys again, they have a built in feeding frenzy whenever they want it.
All successful brands go through a process of re-invention that is constant. You may have even noticed our recent re-brand to lgx includes a similar vibe, and some colors from the palate of Miami Heat Vice jersey design.
Brands are made up of people. And as long as your brand connects with the people involved, and doesn’t negate or destroy pre-existing brand equity, you will feel the “Heat” of growing sales or client inquiries in due time!