Coyte G. Cooper, Ph.D.
When studying sport entities that are great in marketing, there is one trend that is consistent among all organizations and programs that succeed in building an extraordinary brand. While all of them certainly invest in creative marketing strategies, there is a specific attribute that exists in each of these programs that allows them to build something that is truly special. Simply put, every great brand is guided by a unique passion that comes from a leader with a strong, purposeful vision. This individual is someone who provides initial direction, recruits/attracts people to get on board to support the vision, and provides consistent energy that sustains efforts. Once a program is guided by a leader with this passion to build a great brand, it is only a matter of time until they start to realize success in marketing.
If you are a leader looking to enhance your branding efforts, there are five initial steps that you should invest in immediately to improve support surrounding your program. For coaches, this involves taking steps to build a structure where people buy-in to what you are trying to achieve. The best coaches in branding are individuals who have an energy that attracts people to support their cause.
Five Ways to Make Your Brand Contagious
1. Be passionate about building something special: If you want to have an extraordinary program brand, it is absolutely essential that you are passionate about building a brand that is unique. This cannot be something that comes and goes when you feel like it. Instead, you need to wake up each day with the intention of making a positive impression on the people around you. If you are consistent with this step, then the rest are logistical issues that you simply need to iron out.
2. Make passion a part of your program’s brand: As a leader, it is your job to model the things that you feel are most important to your program. Once you have your values in place, it is simply a matter of showing your passion for them on a daily basis. And if you can package this properly (e.g., UTC’s “Chattanooga Strong,” Iowa State’s “All In,”), then you provide a creative way to better sell your vision to followers. However, your passion is at the core of this initiative because it is contagious. As you approach each day, see passion as something you want people to think when they interact with your program. This means that staff members and student-athletes need to buy-in to the program brand.
3. Set enthusiastic example for student-athletes: If you want to have a strong brand, it is important that there is consistency from all of your key members. As a leader, you absolutely must model program values in an extraordinary manner on a daily basis. If you ask student-athletes to live by values and you neglect them, they will eventually lose respect for you because you are holding yourself to a lower standard. However, if you model your values in an energetic manner on a daily basis, your student-athletes will eventually buy-in and they will become a part of your brand. When they completely buy-in to process, then you have taken steps toward building something special from a branding standpoint.
4. Strive to maximize each interaction: One of the toughest things about branding is that every single interaction that you have each day counts. However, the great thing is that you can really differentiate your program when you completely embrace this step. When you recognize that you are always making an impression (good or bad) that influences your personal and program brand, you can wake up each day with a mindset that will allow you to build fans of your program. Building on the previous step, it is important to explain this concept to your staff and student-athletes. After all, they are individuals who interact with people surrounding your program on a daily basis.
5. Create a culture that is contagious: When you combine the previous steps with a creative approach to marketing, you have the ingredients necessary to create a culture that is contagious. This is exactly what you need to do to create strong support from key stakeholders surrounding your program. In future entries, we will discuss specific marketing strategies you can use to maximize the reach of your messages. For now, get to work on creating a culture that you entire program is passionate about.