Team in the crapper? Look to the brand.Smart Solution
All of the great collegiate and professional athletic programs have readily identifiable brands. Some (like the Chicago Cubs) have nothing to do with winning records. Notre Dame has a strong brand tied to being a Catholic institution. Sure, it has benefited through the years from a strong football program, but one could argue their brand would still be strong as a Catholic institution regardless of its win-loss statistics on the gridiron.
People would still be loyal.
And that’s what we want, isn’t it? Loyal fans. Loyal donors. Loyal customers.
Today’s consumer is less loyal than ever. Their choices in a global marketplace expand far beyond their own backyard. Entertainment choices abound. Worthy causes now stretch across the planet to places our parents never knew existed.
Sound overwhelming? It is. And those companies and institutions that don’t see the connection of brand to their customers and loyalty are destined to fail.
Think about your favorite college or professional sports teams. Who are the athletes and coaches most discussed as the “greatest” in the program’s history? What do those names have in common with your current roster? Not much? That could be partially to blame if your program is struggling.
Fans need to identify with a team. Die-hard fans have a particularly strong need to identify. Teams that fail to realize this are creating a disconnect between their fan base and their program. (This is true for non-sports brands, too. Anybody remember New Coke?)
And guess what: Increase fan loyalty and you increase revenue. Increase revenue and see what happens to the success of your program that is now full of die-hard fans and resources.
Strictly banking on wins and losses is a sucker’s bet.
Just ask the Cubs …