If branding can take inspiration from any other sector, it has to be from the sports. Because if relationship between brand and customer is the core of branding, there is few, if any, that can match the intensity of the fanatic relationship between a football club and its fans.
Have doubts? Just see the ever increasing number of English Premiere league fans that are being created everyday in Asia. (mind the geographical distance). Or visit the Anfield stadium in Liverpool and see how many people are singing their official song “You will never walk alone” during the match. Or visit the Old Trafford stadium each match day and see more than 60,000 spectators screaming their heart out time and again. Or visit a pub in Thailand during match day and see how many heated discussions are taking place.
Brands can only dream of such emotional engagement. That is the epitome of effective branding where your customers become your fans. And when you are considering creating fantastic brands, maybe that’s the place you should look into…..how a football club creates a brand. Still being a skeptic? Ok let me lead you some more.
We are often skeptical about the advertisements of brands that promise the world and fail to deliver. We reject those brands or switch. But does the fan change a football club even when the going gets rough? Liverpool football club has not own their domestic football league for more than 15 years. But does that mean all the fans have lost faith in their football club and started supporting Manchester United. No. In fact in the last 15 years they have created a solid base of fans in Asia.
Can brands claim to be that? Can we say that about a toothpaste brand? A shampoo? Would you use the same mobile phone if it fails to work once?
If the answer you wished is “Yes” and you actually got is “No”, then basically your brand is still looking for the holy grail of branding – Brand Evangelists or Fanaticism. Which basically means your customers will walk a mile for your brand, suggest it blindly to others, campaign in favor for you, stick by you even when you lose that edge in performance and forgive you even when you have done something wrong.
Coca Cola can claim that. But can your brand?
If not, then your brand can do the following things….just like the Real Madrids and Milans of the world.
- Football clubs create fans, not customers. That in itself is different t kind of thinking. Your goal should be to create fans, treat them like human beings, pamper him and interact with him.
- Fans are emotionally attached with their clubs. Just like that your brand should have a strong emotional connection with your audience
- Fans are territorial, very vocal and proud. Just like that your brand must make your customer feel proud. They would love to flaunt your brand, show it outside to upgrade their image. Also, you must allow your customer to have interactions with your brand. Create a website and allow your brands to have their say. Ask them what they want to see from you. Sell merchandising to them. Send them gifts time to time. Give them tools to talk about you. Supply them with ammunition so that they can defend you from the customers of your rival brands.