SE+ Perspective | a perspective on sports matters

Building Your Brand #4: How Look and Style Contribute to Long Term Success

We’ve been talking about brand recognition, why it’s important, and what happens when negative press threatens your reputation. But how do you build your brand to begin with?

Of course, if you don’t win, people won’t watch. You can run an elaborate and fun offense, but if it doesn’t work against good teams no one will care. In business, you can hire the best PR firm in the world, but if you don’t have a product or service people want, you’ll be irrelevant. But once you’ve got a good team, a good product, you’ve got to get yourself noticed.

You’ve got to pay attention to your look and style.

We’ve all seen products, websites, and ideas fail because they didn’t grab attention, they didn’t make a good first impression—they didn’t have the right look. Turn on a college football game and you see logos and uniforms—that’s part of what draws in young talent and new fans.

And that’s how creating brand identity works. You’ve got to get people talking, you’ve got to create buzz. What a football team wears has nothing to do with  how well they play, but it’s a big part of how they are perceived. And once the public starts talking about a team, even if the talk is just about a new logo, that team won’t be unknown anymore. When they win, people will already be watching.

Oregon wears a different uniform every game. Maryland–who knows what they are wearing, but guess what, people talk about it. TCU comes out in black and purple and they put points on the board. Baylor comes out wearing all green and they throw it all over the field. People take notice.  Ohio State has many traditions, uniform being one of them. They wear Scarlet & Gray and have Buckeye leaf stickers on their helmets. And while they have adapted over the years and have worn different uniforms for games, this year when they played rival Penn State, they wore all black uniforms. At first it was a rumor that had been all but confirmed. But Ohio State created a buzz around it. Fans, recruits and the media took notice. They are a big brand, but realize they need to keep evolving, Boise State–it is their field that people talk about. It’s blue. Everyone else plays on a green field, but Boise State went against the grain. Love it or hate it, I guarantee you’re talking about it.

Pay attention this college football season and watch how these programs build their brands. We will come back to this topic often as it can be analyzed in many ways–from stadiums, to academics, to facilities, to relationships with the local businesses, and on and on.