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‘We’ll get it right’: What Ryan Smith said about Jazz’s new color scheme, fan response

The Jazz owner said there are more purple jerseys to come and admits that some of the criticism is deserved

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Dwyane Wade, part owner of the Utah Jazz, left, and Jazz owner Ryan Smith talk about a rebranding plan for the team during the Silicon Slopes Summit in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

To say the fan response to the Utah Jazz’s rebranded jerseys has been negative is a bit of an understatement.

So, when Jazz owner Ryan Smith was available to reporters on Tuesday while he was promoting UFC 278 (coming to Vivint Arena on Aug. 20), I asked him what he thought of the fan response to the recent launch of new team gear and colors.

“Did they?” he said with a laugh, jokingly dismissing how fervent the online discourse has been in the days since the release of the new jerseys. “No, I’m kidding. ... I love our fan base. Like, fan is short for fanatics. We have an incredible fan base, I’m a fan, I’m part of it.”

Smith said that he has appreciated how dedicated the fans have been and how deeply they care about the rebrand.

He pushed back on the idea that the new purple jerseys were an afterthought to please a fan base that was angry when leaked versions of the new yellow and black jerseys made the rounds on social media, and said that there are four more purple jerseys that will be coming out over the next year and a half.

Smith did admit, however, that criticisms about the simplicity of the designs have probably been fair.

“We wanted to bring purple back ... we also wanted to get a cleaner, simplified look,” Smith said. “It’s an evolution — brands are going to evolve. There’s probably a fair argument that we went a little too clean, OK. But it will evolve and it will go on. And we want purple to be a massive part of our color scheme going forward ... we want that to be a big part of our brand in the evolution. And so we’ll get it right.”

Smith took me and a couple of other reporters to the team store at Vivint Arena to let us look at the new merchandise. The photos I shared on Twitter from inside the store were met with mixed reviews.

While many still maintained that the new colors were not to their liking, there were a handful that said seeing jerseys on mannequins in the store softened their opinion a little.

While I’m not able to check his data, Smith did say that after the launch, the highest selling items online were the purple ones, but people coming into the store were buying more black and yellow. So, maybe you just have to see it in person to get used to it.