David Freemantle once said: Feelings have a critical role in the way customers are influenced. And the more feelings and emotion you create, the more attention to your brand. And the more influence it can have. Not rocket science is it? I am a baby boomer and grew up under the influence of baseball. Not just baseball, but New York Yankees baseball. It was the Yankee brand that had me from the get-go. It is not surprising then of the branding lessons learned from this influence.
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Have you ever defined your favorite brands and questioned why? It is a key exercise we often use with our clients. It helps to evaluate what should be the heart of your company’s strong brand identity.
What I’ve come to appreciate as a marketer, however, is what the Yankee brand had stood for throughout most of baseball history beginning with the ‘20s when Babe Ruth joined the team and the first Yankee Stadium, the House that Ruth built, opened.
Every element reinforces the Yankee brand–The NY logo, pinstripes, Monument Park, retired numbers, and most importantly the 27 World Championships, the most for any professional sports franchise.
Related: How Do You Continue to Improve a Memorable Brand
We believe the heart of all killer brands is the promise they commit to delivering to their clients. No matter how clever or memorable their brand marketing, if they fail to deliver on that promise, they fail. And those promises represent what the brand stands for and their strong brand identity.
So what do the New York Yankees and branding have in common?
You might be tempted to answer, nothing, but in fact, the Yankees were revolutionary through the decades, not only in the sports industry but also in the way they utilized branding to improve their reach as a baseball team.
As long as it’s positive, there is no such thing as too much attention for your brand. If you play your cards right, you can roll all of that great attention into growth for your company. Here are some of the best and most creative steps to get people to notice you and your brand.
Let’s examine the lessons the Yankees taught marketers about social media based branding:
New York Yankees … live their story
Does your brand have a story? You know—a story that’s captivating and inspiring; has real meaning and comes from the heart of what you’re all about as a brand. It’s a story your customers believe in, and they stand behind it through their behaviors and actions. The Yankees built many stories through their many decades and lived many of them. They were great reputation builders.
New York Yankees nicknames … build a brand personality
A brand personality is a set of human characteristics that are attributed to the brand. It is something to which the customer can relate. An effective brand will increase its brand equity by having very distinctive traits.
The truth is many companies fail to recognize the importance of creating brand experiences through brand personality. They bog down their online persona with boring corporate speak and industry jargon. Or, they blow it by not keeping the experience consistent, ultimately confusing customers or making them feel as if something is amiss with the company.
Think about it – the Yankees brand experience was defined by their winning and their team heroes, their press coverage, and their interactions with the media. And they made the most of them to define their brand personality.
Define your brand by what you make happen
Your goal is to extend your unique selling positions beyond your products to influence perceptions of the brand.
The Yankees are a very distinct example. Their brand success centered on their winning successes – the seemingly simple things – they knew would make a difference for their fans. They were different because of their dominance, their many heroes, and their brand stands out because it represented those differences.
Simple. Attainable. Targeted. They made it happen.
Yankee brand … show emotions
Can you ever remember seeing the Yankees in public without experiencing their emotion? I can’t. And the emotional influence was a great brand builder.
The famous Yankees logo.
Thus, spotting Yankee regalia in unusual places has become an enthralling daily pastime. You’ll find it in supermarkets and schools, on trains and in airports, at sports bars and movie theaters. Anywhere with a cultural pulse.
We’ve all witnessed Yankees gear in everyday life, and even those entirely bankrupt of baseball knowledge could identify the famous logo. Quite surprisingly, nobody has ever seriously investigated why or how.
Yankee brand … relentless innovation
The glue that bonded the Yankee team heritage was the many team’s championship performances. They didn’t worry about following trends. They created their trends, which is what discontinuous change is all about.
The Yankees attracted audiences, sold tickets, and won many many games and championships and have expanded their brand for years. What lessons can a baseball team teach the rest of us about marketing?
Marketing is marketing, after all, and there is always something to be learned from the world’s best, even if their strategies and styles were unique. And they completely eschewed many mainstream sports industry promotion and big advertising campaigns.
Win, win, win
I began by asking a pool of relevant people, such as Yankee fans, and baseball experts, one straight-up question: how did the team’s brand become so popular?
Without exception, my sources pointed to the Yankees’ on-field success as the foundation of their commercial dynasty; the team’s historical preoccupation with winning making it unfailingly favored by consumers.
Indeed, the Yankees are successful. They’re perhaps the most successful team in the history of elite sports, having won 27 World Series titles, 40 American League pennants, and 51 postseason berths in the 112 seasons of their existence. The next-best totals within the baseball realm: 11 World Series titles (Cardinals), 20 pennants (Giants), and 27 postseason berths (Cardinals).
Baseball’s unique 162-game regular season and lengthy playoff structure, coupled with the Yankees’ seemingly eternal success, has undoubtedly seen the Bronx Bombers win more individual games than any professional team in any sport since time immemorial. Thus, it naturally follows that the Yankees have dominated baseball throughout its history, winning back-to-back championships thrice, three consecutive titles once, four straight crowns once, and an unprecedented five-in-a-row between 1949-1953.
Cultivate raving fans
The Yankees started building their tribe of rabid fans early in their team building. Many of the original followers are still awesome brand fans decades after they left the field as a baseball team. I would include myself in this group … how about you?
Be an experience
Not only did the Yankees significantly impact the sports industry, but they also brought to their audience an entire experience. Their followers began not only copying the team’s attitude toward winning, but also mimicked their attitude, clothing and virtually everything else about the team.
The bottom line
Remarkable isn’t always the same. Get in the habit of doing the “unsafe” thing every time you have the opportunity is the best way to see what’s working and what’s not.
The key to being remembered is remarkable. Don’t let your brand take the back seat, stand out.
Markets and customers are constantly changing. Therefore a business must constantly adapt its branding to the changes in the marketplace.
And remember, brands are verbs … what they do matters more than what they say.
Need some help in capturing more customers from your branding design strategies? Such as creative branding ideas to help the differentiation with potential customers?
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Do you have a lesson about making your brand marketing better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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