The Importance of Branding, According to the NFL

The Importance of Branding, According to the NFL

The National Football League is an entertainment juggernaut, raking in billions of dollars annually through its various enterprises. The NFL is a marketing leader, teaching businesses big and small a variety of lessons that can be applied to their practices.

One of the biggest lessons that the NFL absolutely excels at is branding. The league has spent years developing its brand and expanding its influence globally. The teams in tandem with the league have spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting themselves, becoming fixtures of the community, and assimilating into their home region. Seriously, take a look at how the teams brand themselves. And remember, a brand isn't just a logo. It's so much more, but more about that in a bit.

You may have heard about the Washington Redskins and the bad press they've been getting for their nickname. My wife and I recently attended a Washington Redskins game and the team is branded everywhere at the stadium. From fans wearing player jerseys, to stadium signage, to their plastic beer cups, right down to their celebratory “Hail to the Redskins” song the fans sing after a Redskins score. And don't forget the ever-popular “#HTTR” hashtag.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has said he isn't going to change the name. While his decision has whipped up a PR firestorm, from a marketing and business perspective, I can understand why he wouldn't want to change the name. As I stated above, creating a successful brand takes years to develop and lots of money. Snyder would have to spend a mint rebranding the team. He would also upset many of his current fans in the process, those same fans who have shelled out their hard earned money to buy jerseys, souvenirs, tickets, etc. to support the team. To take a new name would require all those fans to buy new jerseys. The legacy of the team would also be altered.

Here are some branding lessons to consider:

Build for the long term

When creating a brand and the associated identity, you need to think about what your brand is and what you want it to be. You have to consider how your brand affects you, your company, your employees, not just now, but in the future. How will it stand the test of time? What will the repercussions be if you need to rebrand in the future? What's your mission statement?

Research, Research, Research!

You need to research your potential brand and identify any issues that may come up as a result. What may work now may not be appropriate five, ten, or fifty years down the road.

Any and everything you do represents your brand

A brand is much more than just a logo. A brand can encompass how the company treats its employees; how it innovates; how it treats its customers; the charities it supports. Your organization's values are just as important as your company logo. Your organization's image is tied to your brand.

Over to you. What thoughts on branding do you have? Do you have any examples of places that do it well (or not) to share? If so, hit up the comments and let's discuss.

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