What does your club stand for? If you can’t answer that question without thinking about it then your club’s branding efforts are not what they should be. But why does it matter if your club’s message is not getting out there in one clear and distinctive voice? Well it matters more than many realise if you are trying to grow your club into the success we know you desperately want it to be.
When we speak of branding we are referring to what your club stands for, it’s voice to the outside world, the emotion it evokes amongst your current members and how your club is perceived locally amongst your target market of potential players, members and local businesses. Your brand should quickly bring people together under one calling card that is easily identifiable and makes you stand out from the crowd.
Your club’s brand is easily created by figuring out what you want to communicate to those who are already members as well as those who have never heard of you. Importantly, your club’s brand helps you become personable and helps define why you exist in the first place. Without a defined brand and emotive calling card, it is extremely hard to attract new players, members, sponsors or funds to the club.
Just like dating, you have one chance to make a great first impression so you need to ensure your club and it’s members are conveying a message of uniformity, core values and reputation. Unfortunately too many clubs are neglecting this vital aspect of their marketing and as a result they are not reaching their true potential.
Here are the 3 ways neglecting your branding is hurting your club:
1. You’re not attracting new players
Attracting new players is never easy, so why make it harder on yourselves? Players are attracted to a few key elements that are easily fixed:
- Ensure you have a great message for them and make it easy to understand who you are and what you stand for. Thus, make sure your website looks very slick, conveys your core message to new players and make it easy to register their interest or contact the relevant person to speak to.
- At the same time make sure your social media channels are regularly kept up to date, display your core message using high definition images and videos and make it look like your club is an exciting place to be part of. Do not ignore the value of great imagery on social media!
2. You aren’t attracting new sponsors or generating new revenue
By understanding that once your club has an easily identifiable brand, a specific message and a highly engaged audience, your sponsorship and fundraising efforts become significantly easier. Unfortunately too many clubs still see sponsorship and fundraising as a one way street. They rarely offer enough value to their community or potential sponsors to make it worth the time or effort to get involved. Gone are the days where offering a board on the side of the field was the only option you needed to attract new sponsors or funding from outside of your club environment. Clubs have got to think bigger than that!
An example of offering value to sponsors
3. Your on-field results suffer
How special do your players feel to be a part of your club? If they are not inherently proud of their association with your club, your on-field results will suffer as a result. Unfortunately so many clubs do not see value in making their players and members proud to be associated with the club and as a result they do not want to show off where they belong, do not market the club nor attend games. It’s a cycle of downfall that is hard to get out of.
Thankfully there are solutions:
- Update your club’s logo and colours, or make a new modern one to look as slick as the professional teams – this is not impossible nor as expensive as you might think. Make being part of the club fresh and exciting for all!
- Ensure action photographs of the players, and the spectators on the sidelines, are taken every weekend in HD – these get shared like crazy by friends and family and improve your reach drastically! It makes people feel part of the club.
- Write about your players and members. Tell all about their achievements and make them feel special on social media and on your website through video interviews or image posts.
- Create as much hype as possible about each and every game to get your members and players excited about upcoming fixtures. Make it sound like being at the game is absolutely worth their while!
- Come up with game day specials, sponsor deals or anything else to show that you care about your members. This could even be as simple as making sure your members feel comfortable by providing good food and well maintained facilities.
- Create a clothing range that the players and members are excited to show off when they are not at the club. Too often clothing is left to committee members or parents – but prospective and current players are vastly younger. This often results in poor quality or boring “official” kit but players only wear it at official events and games instead of all the time wherever they go!
Remember your players and members are your best marketing assets – make them feel happy and excited, and the attendances at games will improve and players will feel part of something special. The more special the environment feels and the more the community are behind your club, the better the players will play. Create the right culture by starting with your branding!
Remember that your club can offer something unique to all stakeholders in your community. All that is required is the right message put out to the right people in the right way. Branding can be anything you want to be known for or look like, but to be known for something takes effort initially, but for clubs to succeed in the new era they must start to think and act like professional teams and leverage what they do offer to their local community.
Have we left anything out? Let us know what you do to build your brand in the comments below!