November 2, 2018

Branding passion


There has been a lot of press over recent months about branding for sporting organisations, both successful and otherwise. With all of this press coverage I thought it was opportune to reflect on our experiences and how the needs and approach of branding for sporting organisations differs from other businesses.

Over the last few years we’ve been lucky enough to work with two professional sports clubs. It’s not often opportunities like the ones we have encountered arise so we feel very fortunate to have had the privilege of working on them.

Every project we are briefed on naturally has its own challenges, otherwise what would our value to clients be, but it is certainly true that sports clubs have their own very unique set of challenges.

The main reason for this is that their ‘customer’ base are some of the most passionate people on the planet.

Rain or shine, win or lose sports fans will make huge sacrifices to be on the terraces, week in, week out. It’s also not uncommon for them to tattoo the crest of their favourite club on themselves, raising the stakes even higher!

With this commitment comes huge passion and with passion comes significant opinion and, in some cases, resistance to change.

Used effectively this passion can be of huge benefit to the clubs but if not managed can be considerably detrimental. The key therefore is stakeholder management and communication.

Throughout all of the projects we have been involved in with both sports clubs we have invested a great deal of time and effort in ensuring the fans are on the journey with us from the very beginning.

Whether it be listening to their opinions at the consultation stage or involving them through as much of the creative process as possible, making sure they are engaged is fundamental to making any transitions as smooth as possible and that any changes come as less of a surprise.

This is something we work hard to ensure with all of our clients but it has been particularly important with the sports clubs due to the passion and opinionated nature of sports fans.

By doing so we have gleaned a great deal of quality insight that has helped shape the brand, define the story and improve the marketing thereafter. All of which delights fans as it shows the club is listening and truly has their interests at heart.

Another key focus of our work has been to give fans something they can truly grab hold of.

The modern era of sport has had a tendency to dilute the heritage and history of our great sporting organisations. This is something that, in our experience, all sports fans are keen to hold on to, learn more about and celebrate. While there is a desire to ensure clubs are forward thinking and ever developing, it is equally important to respect and acknowledge where they have come from and give new fans something engaging to capture their interest, beyond the performance of the team. The key is balancing heritage with vision.

Without doubt, all branding projects have their unique demands and challenges that require effective stakeholder management. Our experience has proven that with sports clubs the tightrope is even narrower!

Through a lot of hard work and careful consideration, we seem to have succeeded in navigating the tightrope and have delivered strong solutions for both clubs that have not only brought the fans closer to the club but have delivered fantastic commercial results as well.
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