As a parent and coach to an extremely talented bunch of mini rugby players, it’s difficult not to get too carried away and lose sight of what’s important at this early stage in their relationship with rugby.
Before our recent festival, I was thinking back to team talks I have heard and some that I’ve given during my playing career. It would be inappropriate to have given them the chest thumping pre-game chat, but it did make me think about the link between brands and sports teams.
There is a great sense of pride in a club jersey and the history that has gone before. The performances by club legends that have laid the foundations for future generations. There is a great sense that every time you put on the club shirt, you add to the rich history of your club, hence the often referenced “take pride in the shirt”.
I think it’s true to say that every time a team takes to the field, it tries to live the values of the club and perform in a manner befitting of it’s history. For me this is very much like a consumer brand of today.
A brand identity is made of typography, shapes and colours. It only comes to life when those shapes and colours are imbued with values and meaning which can only be done through experience.
Each time a team performs, it’s fans have their perceptions affirmed by the performance they see and the behaviour of the players who become the living brand. The same is true of consumer brands. Each time a consumer buys a product, their experience of it will either affirm or conflict with their love of the brand.
It’s in this respect that a brand lives in the minds of consumers, not the brand owners. You can design how a product looks, feels and behaves - the brand identity - but the ‘brand’ will be defined by how consumers perceive their experience of it.