Placing logos on court windscreen helps schools, clubs, and parks "brand" their facilities.

By Laurie Black Gross

(Published August 2005)

Mention logos, windscreen, and tennis facilities, and the word "branding" keeps popping up. That word simply means utilizing various marketing methods to link an identity with a specific message in order to set oneself apart from the competition. Branding is, perhaps, the reason behind the growing practice of printing club names and mascots on tennis-court windscreen. But talk long enough about the subject and, sooner or later, everyone gets around to the money issue.

Larry Ball, president and CEO at BP International Inc. (formerly Ball Products) in Deland, Fla., equates his company's quickly growing logo business with an increased savvy and sophistication among his club and sports facility customers.

The Houstonian Club

Wildcats Baseball/Softball

Embry-Riddle Eagles

The Vinings at Lake Buena Vista

"The concept of printing on windscreen is more widely understood than it used to be," Ball says. "We're seeing a lot of increased activity in our logo department from tennis clubs, high schools, and colleges. They recognize that a standard-sized logo on windscreen is much more economical than, say, a fancy sign."

Ball points out that windscreen can be used for sponsorship opportunities, or even as an advertising medium. He suggests that, although many higher end country clubs will maintain a more traditional use of logos on their courtside windscreen, other types of facilities are looking for ways to replace the cost of their sports equipment. "They like the idea of windscreen as an income producer."

"Windscreen on a tennis court is like a great big billboard," says Randy Futty, director of sales at Lee Tennis in Charlottesville, Va. "For a public facility, it's a great way to generate income."

With competition for membership and patronage at an all-time high, even the more exclusive clubs want to distinguish themselves. They logo their restaurant napkins, their pro shop apparel, and now they are putting their logos on windscreen. "Attractive logos will set a club apart, and spark recognition among members and guests. It can go so far as to be a tool for increasing membership," Futty says.

Part of the reason logoing has grow in popularity has to do with technology. Costs are down, and design complexity is greatly expanded. Not very many years ago, the standard logo was a one-color, blocky-looking item. Now, competent screen printers can generate a multi-color, elaborate design that will bond with the windscreen material for a long-lasting, highly visual effect.

John Douglas, national sales manager at Douglas Sport Nets & Equipment in Eldridge, Iowa, estimates that he's doubled his quotes for logos in the last year. "Tennis clubs are using logos for branding -- to differentiate their club." He explains that logos are becoming part of image-building and awareness. "An attractive logo gives the player a feeling that he is at a high-quality facility."

Although costs have declined, Douglas admits that the logo is usually more expensive than the material. A large, complex logo on a 9-foot windscreen panel can be as much as $10,000. Anyone making that sort of investment, he says, should be committed to proper screen maintenance -- keeping the windscreen properly attached to the fence or even taking it down in extremely bad weather. For that reason, he encourages his clients to put their logos on a separate, smaller piece of windscreen that can be removed if necessary.

And at Advantage Tennis Supply in Richmond, Va., manager Amy Ward estimates that her logo business is up about 40 percent since last year. "We've had 25 quotes for logos in the last three weeks, and that's a lot for us, because it's not our main thing," says Ward. "We offer logoing on our website and in our catalog for customer convenience, but we subcontract all of our screen printing to a graphics company because they do a quality job."

"As far as the future," Larry Ball says, "I can't see any way but up for this part of our business." He points out that the trend right now in Europe is for all clubs, even high-end clubs, to carry advertisements and/or sponsorships on their windscreen.

"We are usually a few years behind Europe but, when the fashion catches on over here, it's always much bigger than anywhere else," he says. "In the not-too-distant future, in this country, I expect all public facilities, and some of the more forward-thinking private ones, will begin utilizing printing on their courtside windscreen as a way to produce additional income."

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