By UTalkMarketing Editor, Clark Turner.
Thought the sporting word was dominated by sports men, women and teams? Think again. Each individual and team is fast becoming a brand in its own right in a bid to attract commercial sponsorship and support.
The Commonwealth Games England Team is no different and has recently undertaken a major rebranding exercise in a bid to up its appeal and raise awareness of its values to commercial partners.
With the next Games scheduled to take place in Delhi in October 2010, the race is not on to bring in commercial support to help the team of around 400 individuals taking part across 17 sports.
The Games present a unique opportunity in the life of an athlete. Every four years men and women from across England have their chance, as part of a multi-sports team, to represent their country.
"Any team is by definition a brand and for us the challenge was about revitalising the team’s image," Strategic Marketing and Commercial Lead for Commonwealth Games England, Duncan Lewis (pictured), told UTalkMarketing.
"In sporting terms we were perhaps seen as a ‘blazer’ brand and we needed to make ourselves more vibrant and differentiated, reflecting change and modernisation."
He added, "Another driver was to create a focal point, a rallying point for stakeholders and something that fans and brand sponsors could align themselves with."
In terms of creating a brand identity, Lewis was faced with a number of issues. There was a need to create a brand of patriotism, without it spilling over into nationalism.
Commonwealth Games England needed to be seen as patriotic in a sporting context, reflecting our passion in sport, but also been seen as having the stature of other sports brands, such as the RFU.
The result has been a new logo showing a lion leaping over a new strapline – ‘We are England’ as created by brand agency, Corporate Edge.
The brand aims to stand for Focus, Commitment, Passion, Ambition and Pride. The image of the lion is used to represent the strength, power and performance of the team using the colours of red (taken from St. George’s Cross) and gold ("for the medals we intend to win").
Meanwhile, ‘We are England’ is being used to sum up the idea that: "We are everyone who believes in the team, who coaches the team, who supports the team – we are not just team England – we are England."
With brands increasingly looking to associate themselves with high profile sports men, women and events the opportunities beyond simply slapping a logo on a piece clothing have been expanded.
"There a big danger of brands simply thinking about logo exposure through sports activity, but commercial partnerships can be more flexible than that, looking at a brand’s objectives and coming up with solutions," Lewis explained. "Involvement can include incentives for staff and benefits to both clients and consumers with hospitality and access to brand ambassadors."
"Sports association can also feed into corporate culture encouraging staff member to be more active and get fit. It’s about marketers tapping into the emotional cut-through of having the Team brand associated with their product."
So in dealing with partnership marketing in the B2B sector, what are some of the challenges Lewis comes up against?
The main issue, he reveals, is the complexity of decision making with usually a huge number of individuals in any company involved. The role of intermediaries, with media agencies acting on behalf of brands can also prove to be a hurdle.
"There are a number of communication protocols to follow, making sure everyone who needs to be informed is included," added Lewis. "But beyond that the principles are the same as any partnership."
"It’s about brands tapping into the emotional impact of their being involved and then using that for their own marketing purposes, benefitting from the galvanising and motivational aspects of sport."
He continued, "The Commonwealth Games England Team is a showcase for all that is good about sport with emerging talent and many young athletes."
As for ROI for brands, well that all depends on the nature of the sponsorship – whether or not that involves exposure of the brand logo. But Lewis strongly believes that brand guardians need to look beyond this, activating the programme at different levels to motivate staff and promote incentives.
Combined together the two elements can best deliver an uplift of sales or awareness of a product.
But for now Lewis’ priorities are two-fold. Firstly is building awareness of the Games’ Team championing the successes of teams and individual athletes in events leading up to the games.
The second is to build the ‘We are England’ brand to be a rallying cry for impassioned sports fans across the country. Activity involves building on some specially commissioned research from YouGov into British Icons and a St George's Day photography competition online.
"Digital activity is an important part of the marketing mix for us to help us engage with both sporting governing bodies and the public," Lewis revealed. "It’s no longer an optional extra for marketers and is fully important to any marketing strategy."
See a promotional video on the new brand identity below.
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