Branding 101 with Jelly Fam
BY SHAUN FERGUSON
For a long time, people thought New York City basketball culture was dead. Then, “Jelly Fam” happened, a social media movement that wasn’t started by an agency, sports brand, or even an NBA player, but a bunch of high school basketball prospects with some serious branding skills. A “jelly” is a move in basketball where instead of laying the ball up off the backboard, the player twists the ball directly into the hoop. Isaiah Washington, the creator of the Jelly Fam movement, was originally inspired by the iconic Michael Jordan dunk witnessed in the 1988 NBA Dunk off contest. Unable to dunk, but still wanting to emulate Jordan, Washington put his own twist on the show-stopping move, coining his version as “the jelly.”
Since then, this movement has garnered the attention of basketball lovers worldwide, including basketball superstars Lebron James and John Wall. Here are three branding tips we can learn from the Jelly Fam movement:
Use What You Know
Jelly Fam has been described as New York City on steroids paired with modern social media. Isaiah Washington and Ja’Quaye James -- both passionate, young basketball players -- knew exactly how to utilize their social media accounts to expose the “Jelly Fam” movement to others. By using the hashtag #jellyfam on their social media handles, their team of young basketball prodigies grew, along with their brand. Now young hoop players are doing the “jelly” as part of their signature move, bringing even more attention to the movement through highlight reels created and posted all over social media.
Let Others Be Part of Your Movement, But Make It Exclusive
The Jelly Fam team consist of some of the best highschool basketball prospects in New York, all handpicked by Washington and James. To officially be part of the movement, there are two main requirements:
1. You must pull a “jelly” move on a player three times in a game.
2. Your social media handles should have the words “jellyfam” in them, an example being @jellyfam_dames.
By adding these requirements, the Jelly Fam brand is increasing its cool factor by only giving the Jelly Fam recognition to those who engage in the act. This, then, forces those who are interested in the movement to physically complete a “jelly,” immersing themself in the experience and further strengthening the Jelly Fam brand message. Through the elite team of basketball prodigies chosen to be part of the Jelly Fam, the brand is then able to push Jelly Fam content to a larger audience, further increasing their exposure.
Learn From Your Mentors
Ja’Quaye James is the nephew of rapper Juelz Santana. Ja’Quaye watched his uncle and other rappers like Cam’ron grow their music label, “Diplomats.” Ja’Quaye watched the Diplomats brand with a close eye as a child and employs some of their guerilla marketing tactics today. Custom shoes, shirts, and other apparel with the Jelly Fam logo are all things that Ja’Quaye learned from his uncle and the Diplomats. With the added social media flair that the Diplomats never had, Jelly Fam has created a serious brand that dominates Instagram feeds of basketball fans everywhere.
From a young New York basketball player, to the creator of a revolutionary movement, Isaiah Washington probably never thought his “jelly” would make the impact it did on the New York basketball scene. But with the help of friend, Ja’Quaye James, Jelly Fam has become the phenomenon almost every aspiring New York basketball player wants to take part in. Through their use of social media and strategic branding tactics, Jelly Fam proves that any brand can be successful if it utilizes the right tools.
Read more: Branding 101 With Big Baller Brand