SE+ Perspective | a perspective on sports matters

Building Your Brand: A 4-part Series / College Football Shows Us How

It seems like every year we see a blue chip program, a college football team everyone expects to win, beaten by a relative unknown. How is this possible? The public just didn’t recognize the second team’s brand. People like what they know—that doesn’t mean unknown teams can’t be any good. It all is a part of building your brand.

Let’s take Texas Christian University (TCU), for example. While the TCU program had success in the past, they came on the scene in a huge way in 2014. Out of the Big 12 Conference, it was Oklahoma and Texas everyone expects to win, because they had the name recognition. Why was TCU doing all the damage?

But can an unknown team stay on top, year after year? Unlikely. Without that name recognition, a football program can’t attract and keep the top coaches and won’t pull in the most promising players. A popular college football team translates into better enrollment and more donations from graduates. That ultimately means a bigger budget and more options for the team. For an up-and-coming program, the challenge is first to succeed on the field without the advantages of the bigger programs—and then to create a strong brand capable of supporting consistent success.

We find the same thing in business. Talent and good ideas are a must, but if no one’s ever heard of your product in a positive way you’re not going to succeed. 

Of course, winning does generate buzz. A good product or service gets people talking, and there are companies that do well on word-of-mouth alone. But most of us need more than that. We need to think about our image, build our brand. So let’s take the next three blog posts and talk about branding, on and off the field: how to get on the score board by trying something new; what to do about negative publicity; and how look and style contribute to long-term success.