It’s that time of year again. With summer’s end comes football’s return and this weekend the 2013 NCAA season will make its debut. Being one of the biggest sports in the United States, college football certainly garners a lot of hype. For public relations professionals, this begs several questions. How do college teams brand themselves? What do they focus on? How do they attract, and better, keep their fans so engaged and so passionate about their brand?
Brands, of course, are a crucial element to any successful business. The sports business is no exception. Good brands focus on customer loyalty, creating something of value, and a competitive edge. These can undoubtedly be applied to a college football team.
Athletic departments take a very strategic approach to football branding. Consider The University of Texas, where the total football revenue for the 2012 season was a whopping $103.8 million, the highest in the league. With most teams barely breaking even, us communications professionals can learn a thing or two from The Longhorns’ publicity efforts.
The Athletic Department at the University of Texas attribute four important elements to the team’s branding success.
1) Being Selective
Mainstreaming your brand isn’t the ticket. It is important to be unique. Set yourself apart from the competition by being selective about partnerships, representatives, and, in the case of football, players. The University of Texas chooses to partner with high-class entities like AT&T. They also recruit players and coaches who are willing to go above and beyond.
2) Being Both Practical & Courageous
Of course, brands need to set realistic goals. Simultaneously, they need to be fearless. Take challenges. Demand excellence. This leads to excellent leadership, and in turn, excellent products.
3) Being Honest
Everyone appreciates honesty. The importance of honesty should trickle down to every representative of your brand. Be open about your mistakes so that they can be dealt with in the most effective manner.
4) Remembering The Bigger Picture
Your brand is representative of more than just the product. The University of Texas’ football team is bigger than just sports. College football is more than just a game. Ultimately, it is about inspiration. It is about motivation. It is about family.
Just one look at the revenues pulled by The University of Texas in 2012 is enough to convince other college football teams to follow their lead. Utilizing these tactics will help to produce A-grade teams. As communication professionals, we, too, can capitalize on these tips. Utilizing this formula, our products can be as successful as The University of Texas’ football team.