Category Archives: Sports Marketing

A Logo Is Not a Brand

Casper, Wyoming, has “released a new brand” announced last week. It would have been okay if it was just poor wording that a business or destination could release a new brand. But it was aided by the destination marketing professional when he stated, “This community has never had a brand and you get one shot.” Sorry, Aaron McCreight, but Casper has had a brand since the city was founded after the Fort closed. It may not have had a logo to communicate the brand, but it’s had and has a brand.

This isn’t intended to pick on Casper and Aaron. They are merely the spark to share a piece I dusted off recently: A Logo Is Not a Brand

Lots of organizations come to our company, Advertising for Humanity, asking for “a new brand.” They typically mean a new name, or icon, or a new look and feel for their existing name. Lots of people think that brand begins and ends there – that once we shine up the name they can stick it below their email signature, pop it on their website, and, voila, they have a new brand. Much of our work consists of disabusing people of this notion.

Brand is much more than a name or a logo. Brand is everything, and everything is brand.

Brand is your strategy. If you’re a consumer brand, brand is your products and the story that those products tell together. Ikea’s kitchen chairs’ tendency to fall apart after two years is part of the company’s brand. If you’re a humanitarian organization, brand is your aspirations and the progress you are making toward them. Share Our Strength’s audacious goal to end child hunger in America in five years is its brand. The work the organization is doing to get governor after governor on board is its brand. Its seriousness is its brand. Back in 1969 NASA didn’t have the best logo. But man did it have a brand. It has a nicer logo now – but the brand no longer stands for anything. If you don’t know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, that’s your brand no matter what fancy new name you come up with.

Brand is your calls to action. If Martin Luther King had offered people free toasters if they marched on Washington, that would have been his brand. Are your calls to action brave and inspiring or tacky? Are the consistent with some strategy that makes sense? Getting more Facebook “likes” isn’t a strategy, in and of itself. If you’re a humanitarian organization, the things you ask your constituents to do are your brand.

Brand is your customer service. If donors call your organization all excited and get caught up in a voicemail tree, can’t figure out who they should talk to, and leave a message for someone unsure if it’s the right person, that’s your brand. It say you don’t really care all that much about your donors. If they come to your annual dinner and can’t hear the speaker because of a lousy sound system, that’s your brand. It says that you don’t think it’s really important whether they hear what you have to say or not. If the clerk at your checkout counter is admiring her nails and talking on her cell phone, she’s your brand, whether she’s wearing one of the nice new logo caps you bought or not.

Brand is the way you speak. If you build a new website and fill it with outdated copy, you don’t have a new brand. If the copy is impenetrable – a disease of epidemic proportion in the humanitarian sector – that’s your brand. If you let social service jargon, acronyms, and convoluted abstractions contaminate everything you say, that’s your brand. If your annual report puts people to sleep, that’s your brand. If it’s trying to be all things to all people, that’s your brand.

Message is the central part of your brand, but message alone cannot make a great brand. How many times have you encountered a product or service that didn’t live up to what the copy writers told you about it? That disconnect is your brand.

Brand is the whole array of your communication tools. Brand is the quality of te sign on the door that says, “Back in 10 minutes.” It’s whether you use a generic voicemail system with canned muzak-on-hold, or whether you create your own custom program. The former says you are just like everyone else and you’re fine with that, the latter says you are original. You might have a pretty sale banner that adheres to all the right visual standards, but if it’s sagging and hung up with duct tape, that’s your brand. It says you don’t pay attention to the details. Can you imagine seeing a crooked banner with duct tape in an Apple store? Never. And that’s their brand. It says that the motherboard in the Mac isn’t hanging by a thread either.

In the digital age, user interface is your brand. If your website’s functionality frustrates people, it says that you don’t care about them. Brand extends even to your office forms, the contracts you send out, your HR manuals. Do you rethink traditional business tools or default to convention? The choice you make says a lot about how innovative your brand is.

Brand is your people. Brand is your people and the way they represent you. Having a good team starts with good hiring and continues with strong and consistent training and development. No matter how well your employees adhere to your new brand style guide, if they couldn’t care less about the job they’re doing, that’s your brand.

Brand is your facilities. Are the lights on, or is your team working in darkness? Is the place clean and uncluttered? Does it have signage that’s consistent with your visual standards? Does it look and feel alive? You home is your brand.

Brand is your logo and visuals, too. A great brand deserves a great logo and great graphic design and visuals. It can make the difference when the consumer is choosing between two great brands. But these alone cannot make your brand great.

Ultimately, brand is about caring about your business at every level and in every detail, from the big things like mission and vision, to your people, your customers, and every interaction anyone is ever going to have with you, no matter how small.

Whether you know it or not, whether you have a swanky logo or not, you do have a brand. The question is whether or not it’s the brand you really want.

Copyright 2011 Harvard Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. From By Dan Pallotta.

Get In The Game

Indicators and research show stable growth and longevity in the sports event industry, an industry that has been resilient at a time when other markets are showing signs of decline. – National Association of Sports Commissions

So when the motorcoaches aren’t coming by as much, its harder to get your message to the leisure traveler through all the clutter, and the local banquet hall just isn’t attracting the conferences, where to turn? Sports Marketing. And once again NASC’s Symposium provided the perfect messages at the perfect time! Sessions on Partnerships, Economic Impact, Risk Management, and Sponsorships; plus the ‘trendy’ Green and Social Media.

And how about that line-up of speakers? Mr. March Madness Analyst Clark Kellogg, Indians GM Mark Shapiro and Olympic Medalist Paul Wylie. If you’re looking to “get in the game” – the sports marketing game, NASC’s Symposium is a ‘must attend’. But it’s not as simple as hanging a For Use sign on the local softball diamond. There are basic but serious considerations before ‘lacing them up’ – May’s Five @ 5:

1. Fields or facilities – “Got a field. Check!” Nope! Truly how available is the complex to outside uses? Most school facilities are for the students and most public facilities are for the residents. Period. Ask the school district or parks and recs about the fields’ availability before shopping them. You’ll appreciate it less you truly attract someone and then have to say ‘I guess it’s not available this summer.’

2. Transportation Infrastructure – Can teams get to the fields or even your community? Reasonably? How easily can they fly in if you are able to attract a national event? Is there an interstate system close to your community/facility that will make it easy to drive in? And is there ample parking? If there’s an open ditch county road leading to the facility do you expect participants to park along the road? May work for the beer and church leagues but not AAU!

3. Relationships – Gonna bid on a tiddly winks event… who is the first person you call? The local tiddly winks guy or gal! You sell the community – the hotels, the restaurants, the attractions during down time. The local tiddly winks guy or gal sells the venue that the tourney will be held in, the knowledge of the sport and the local tiddly winks nation that will rally and volunteer!

4. Volunteer Base – Probably the worst thing is attracting an event and not having the volunteer base to staff the event. Your staff can’t do it! You’re selling the community for the next event! Have the volunteer base in place before you bid on the event!

5. Hotels – Here’s an interesting question to ask your hotels – Do you want youth sports? Believe it or not, most may answer ‘no’! Those rowdy teen boys tear up the place and cost the property more in repairs than they make on the room nights. As we fight for every room night and validation of what we do, the worst thing is to attract an event only to have the hotels not offer any room blocks and all the room nights go to the neighboring community.

I’ve spoken on the subject of sports marketing and have more on the site including a copy of the PowerPoint presented. Find it under Resources.

(Originally posted May 2010)