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October 20, 2015

Creating a Sports Brand for the Digital Age (Part II)

by Yana Lapitskaya

Do you know the components of a successful sport brand? Or how to use them to your advantage as a sponsor?

In the past few weeks deltatre has been omnipresent at the biggest sport industry events, attending The Brand Conference, Leaders Sport Summit and of course Sportel in the space of 3 weeks. We’ve been learning ourselves, as well as sharing our knowledge with peers.

Here are our takeaways when it comes to understanding sports entities and brands that ‘borrow’ their equity through the various partnership deals.

Three following areas are crucial: brand story, due consideration of format for your event and the brave new world of digital.

Brand Story

Every successful brand has to have a credible story to tell. In order to resonate with the target audience this story has to be authentic, genuine and appeal to a universal human truth.

There are plenty of inspiring examples out there; for the sake of argument we picked up a story from the Patagonia apparel brand.

They have been consistently expressing their care for mother nature. Their brand philosophy is ‘leave no trace’ and it is reflected in everything Patagonia does.

Imagine a Black Friday full-page ad in The New York Times that read: ‘Don’t buy this jacket’.

Sports Brand for the Digital Age 01

The copy just under explained how the environmental cost of making this jacket was higher than its price, with the end message being ‘Don’t buy what you don’t need. Think twice before you buy anything’.

Patagonia has found its niche by appealing to the people who like outdoor adventures and care about the environment.

Format

Knowing what format of the sports event is right for your brand is key. Is it traditional and well established or is it new, innovative and forward-looking?

For instance, we all know Wimbledon as an iconic tennis event and a desirable sponsorship property.

But the reasons that make it unique need to be in alignment with the reasons that make your brand special. Do you have a long and rich history to lean against or do you need to shake things up a little to stand out?

Sports Brand for the Digital Age 02

Do you remember the game Andre Agassi and Roger Federer played on a helipad of Burj Al Arab at 211 meters above the ground?

It was staged in the United Arab Emirates, the country that wants to be associated with innovation to promote its most prestigious tennis tournament – Dubai Open.

A daring approach to the event format you choose to associate your brand with, can bear some very substantial fruit and even go down in the history of sports marketing.

Digital

Nowadays you can put tracking chips on players, use pressure sensors hidden underneath the pitch and create new and exciting visualizations of any game.

You can also reach out to a much bigger audience than fits in a stadium and connect the sport fans from across the globe. The possibilities that digital technologies provide to sport are rich and continue to emerge.

I used an example of the UEFA and the competitions that it runs to illustrate a transition of global sport properties in to the digital age.

deltatre first built UEFA.com in 1998, while 2010 saw the emergence of the social media channels. Together with our client we have championed a move from local audiences to global audiences and from talking at people to talking with them.

Let’s take an example of the latest UEFA Champions League Final, which took place at the Olimpiastadion in Berlin to show how the real space where your event happens compares to the virtual space where your event also exists.

• The stadium capacity – 74.5 thousand people

• The estimated TV audience was 400 million viewers in 200 countries (source: uefa.com)

• A number of media impressions across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogs and forums was 4.7 billion media impressions (source: UberVu via Hootsuite)

How did we get this massive reach? By posting relevant information at relevant times. By launching one unifying Hashtag – #UCLfinal that connected fractured people’s conversations on social media.

By sharing interesting facts about the competition and players in a visually compelling form that made fans want to pass it on to their friends. As we all know, we have started to talk with pictures to each other rather than with just text.

Sports Brand for the Digital Age 03

When we launched the Champions League’s social media channels we decided to differentiate them from the newswires, and from UEFA.com, by emphasising the personal stories that everyone can relate to.

Let me share with you a success story based on an initiative that although had nothing to do with the current game or results, was tapping into something that unites football stars and fans: birthdays.

We asked @ChampionsLeague followers to name their best five-a-side team, born on their birthday. We provided the example of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Cesare Maldini, Gheorghe Hagi and Carlos Tévez all celebrating birthdays on February 5, and challenged fans across platforms to find a better team.

A dedicated post received more than half a million likes and close to 29,000 comments and shares.

Just to sum up: in order to be popular and relevant today, sport brands and entities must have credible stories to tell. Companies looking to associate themselves with events need to find a strong correlation between their own brand features and the brand features of the event.

And last but not least, all brands should find their foot in the digital space to expand their reach. Digital storytelling is one of the powerful tools that brands can use to their advantage to grow audiences and keep them engaged.

Related blog post: Creating a Sports Brand for the Digital Age – Turning Fantasy into Reality (Part I)

Get in touch to see how your brand can benefit from the ongoing digital revolution.

 



About the author

Yana Lapitskaya
Commercial Manager (UK)

I am a commercial and marketing professional with international experience. Working as a Commercial Manager at deltatre I am leading on projects within the digital area of the business. As part of my wide remit I work for the governing bodies, broadcasters and brands. Combining the passions for sport and digital innovation I strive to take sport experiences to the next level.

Prior to joining deltatre I have worked at Sochi 2014 and London 2012 Olympic Games managing sponsorship activation programmes for the Olympic partners, including Procter and Gamble and MegaFon across multiple territories. I have also worked on the Euro 2012 for Canon.

While being based in deltatre’s London office I work across the UK, European, Asian and other international markets.

I am a keen sport enthusiast practising tennis, golf and water sports among others.

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