December 31, 2013
How to Protect your Brand During the Down Times
No matter what business you are in, if there is competition, there will be a winner and a loser. Who, how, and when may not be as clear when there’s no official scoreboard, but the public never wonders. They can always spot a winner.
#1 – Accountability
Most fans are not bloodthirsty, but they don’t want to feel like patsies either. No one wants to continue to fork over cash, and emotion to a franchise that just doesn’t seem to care anymore. Fans need someone to take the heat when things go sideways. And it needs to be the right someone. Manager, coach, top player … someone. This can be a tough call for any owner. Choose properly, and you earn your fans’ trust for at least one more season. Miss the mark, and fans may revolt. The same could be true for any consumer market. There needs to be a clear cause of the calamity. Otherwise, fans will just pick one, and you will lose control over your brand narrative.
#2 – Personality
When you go through a down time, it can be a tremendous time to redefine your place in the market. Most sports franchises have a type that closely resembles their fan base. They might be flashy, and bright, or dogged, and determined. Strong on defense, or a high-powered offense. One of the easiest ways to start losing in the market, is to lose that personality connection with your consumer base. One of the easiest ways to get it back again is to redefine, or re-energize that perception.
#3 – Inspiration
In the world of sports, there is nothing stronger than possibility. Sure, the championships are terrific, but no force in professional competition matters more to fans than hope. In the consumer marketplace, this translates into two things: empathy, and energy. Your fans want to know that you are thinking about them. That you understand what they want, and are already in the process of delivering it … even if they don’t know exactly what that looks like yet, themselves. That’s the nature of hope. It’s a good vibe for a not quite specific reason, a masterpiece with an unfinished face. It’s your job to come up with the reason, and finish the picture.