My recent blog post on the partnership between Fanatics and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America discussed the critical role that a rights holder’s brand plays in the decision of corporate marketers to partner with the organization, as well as how much they are willing to pay for the association with the property.
Outside of the largest and most well-established rights holders, brand management is not typically a core competency within sports, entertainment and nonprofit organizations.
As a starting point for properties that want to better understand and build their brands, the model below identifies four primary elements that comprise a brand—recognizing that individual circumstances will vary depending on the nature of the organization. Following that are three steps organizations that want to become brand-focused should commit to.
Product + Experience + Identity + Associations = Brand
Each of these elements has the ability to greatly enhance or significantly devalue the brand.
Product. For sports and entertainment properties, the product is primarily the events and experiences that fans pay to watch or participate in. It also includes the players, musicians, artists and other talent. For nonprofits, it is the attributes associated with the ability of the organization to fulfill its mission through services, programs, funding, education, etc.
Experience. The quality of a user’s interactions with the organization. From ticket purchases and other transactions to what happens at a live event, this encompasses fans’ and others’ ability to access information, assessment of perceived value, interaction with staff, physical characteristics of an event site, etc.
Identity. The message conveyed by an organization’s name and representations of its image, including logos, publications, merchandise, uniforms and collateral materials, as well as digital/social presence, advertising messaging and other forms of public communication.
Associations. Other organizations with which the property chooses to co-brand or otherwise link to, or which fans and others perceive to be somehow affiliated with the property. Examples include sponsors, media partners, related organizations and unrelated but similarly focused organizations.
Practices that brand-centered organizations must be committed to include:
- Communicating brand meaning and value to everyone who represents the organization. This acknowledges that every deed, even seemingly inconsequential actions or decisions, either builds or takes away from the brand.
- Going beyond merely understanding the target audiences’ impressions of the brand and using that information to make improvements that will strengthen the bond with fans, followers and other stakeholders.
- Developing relevant extensions and marketing and communications programs that will expand reach and impact.