Who owns your brand? (Hint: it’s not you)

Who owns your brand? (Hint: it’s not you)
by Don Roy – December 2014

John Stuart, former chairman of Quaker Oats, said “If this business were to be split up, I would be glad to take the brands, trademarks and goodwill and you could have all the bricks and mortar – and I would fare better than you.”

The really valuable asset  any company (or person) owns is the brand. The brand of the team and corporate partners is what  we market, by creating awareness, building associations, achieving preference, and influencing purchase behavior.

It’s Not Yours

John Stuart’s quote is poignant, but unfortunately misguided. Does the marketer own the brand? Sure, a firm has legal rights to its brand name and marks. But, who really owns the brand?

Your brand is owned in the hearts and minds of people in the world around you, namely your customers and product users. Key dimensions of the brand are:

  1. Brand image–a collection of perceptions. Where do those perceptions reside? In the minds of (non)customers.
  2. Brand experience–an interactive consumption engagement. Who is the central figure? The customer, without whom there is no experience.
  3. Brand relationship–without customers there are no relationships and no brand.
  4. Brand identity– how the company wants its brand, logo, marks and visual representations to be perceived by customers.

Companies design brand identities in hopes that customers and other stakeholders will have a strong sense of ownership based on the brand’s image, experience, and relationship.

Nashville Sounds Learn this Branding Lesson

The Nashville Sounds (AAA) have field a baseball team in thee Music City for nearly 40 years, calling Greer Stadium its home from 1978 to 2014. Next season, the Sounds begin play at First Tennessee Park, a modern facility built on the same grounds upon which Negro League and minor league baseball was played as far back as the late 1800s. In addition, 2015 will mark the beginning of a new affiliation agreement with the Oakland A’s.

The timing for updating the Nashville Sounds brand seemed ideal given the transition to a new stadium and new major league affiliation. So, team management unveiled an updated logo in October. The Sounds hired Brandiose, a San Diego-based branding agency. Eleven months of work went into the new logo.

Public reaction to the new logo has not been very positive. Why abandon red, a color used by the Sounds throughout its existence? Why use orange, a color better known and associated with the University of Tennessee? Why hire an out-of-state agency when Nashville has abundant creative talent among numerous agencies in the city? Is that the best that someone could do after 11 months of work? Why does it bear resemblance to a logo used by one of Nashville’s other professional sports teams (the Nashville Predators have a secondary logo featuring a guitar pick design)? The questions shared an underlying sentiment: Changes to our brand are in conflict with our relationship to the Nashville Sounds.

It’s about Community

old new gap logoThe Nashville Sounds organization is not the first to make missteps with a rebranding effort.For example, in 2010, Gap introduced an updated logo that lasted about one week before the public made their displeasure known. The company listened and brought back the old logo as Gap’s identity.

The backlash faced by the Nashville Sounds, while not nearly as intense, carries the same lesson. Brands matter to people. They form community with others who care.

Perhaps the worst outcome of the Nashville Sounds rebranding would have been if no one voiced opinions for or against the new logo. People complained because they cared, and they care because they feel a connection to the brand.

Brands are owned in the hearts and minds of the people that they touch. Marketers are the stewards of brands, managing the four dimensions (identity, image, experience, and relationship) to maximize their value. The takeaway from the Nashville Sounds rebranding is not that brand changes should be put to a vote — community is different from democracy. Internal decisions can have negative, albeit unintended, effects on brand relationships. Brand owners and brand marketers must appreciate the affinity customers and fans have for a brand carefully manage the process to maintain a positive relationship between the brand and customers.

How brands measure successful sponsor partnerships

How brands measure successful sponsor partnerships
by Kirk Wakefield – December 2014

At the 2014 Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) Board Meeting held at McLane Stadium on the campus of Baylor University on November 11-12, Jose Lozano hosted a panel of fellow brand experts from the S3 Board to discuss, “How brands measure successful partnerships.”

Not in the awareness business

“We are not in the awareness business,” said Kelly Roddy, President of Schlotzsky’s,  which is owned by Focus Brands (Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, Carvel, McAlister’s Deli, and Moe’s Southwest Grill). “We are into meaningful relationships and sponsorships provide this,” added Roddy.

These sentiments were reinforced by Bill Moseley, Director of Marketing Communications, AT&T, and one of the architects of a wide variety of AT&T corporate partnership deals. Mr. Moseley noted that account management of corporate partners may have focused on more static venue elements of an agreement in the past, but that, “Today the emphasis is on adding value to the fan experience through creative strategies. The AT&T brand is an integral part of the game day experience.”

Tami T. Walker, Brand Manager for Phillips 66, shared, “When we can get a father and son on the floor [as part of a brand-fan experience]  we make fans of the brand for life.” The emphasis is on creating memorable experiences that clearly link the brand with the property in the minds of fans that result in driving business.

What do brands care about in a sponsorship deal?

At the end of the day, or at the end of each year and at the end of the contract, brands care about sponsorship return-on-investment. The panel members underscored that the reason behind sponsorships isn’t because someone at the brand loves the team. Rather, the brand cares about what drives traffic and builds their fan loyalty–when fans of the team become fans of the brand.

AT&T, Phillips 66, Schlotzsky’s, and other well-established brands care most about how much fan affinity transfers to the brand. Why? Brands can track the lift they receive among fans of the brand compared to non-fans in the same markets. Using research tools and brand tracking, brands can see if fans of the team behave differently.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”200px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]”Impressions don’t matter.”[/dropshadowbox]Mr. Roddy explained, “When we measure fan engagement we can see the connection with sales increases. We now look for ways to track call to action. We aren’t interested in millions of impressions, but measures of affinity transfer to our brand. Impressions don’t matter.”

How do brands keep score?

When Phillips 66 evaluates sponsorships, senior management  keeps score at the bottom line.Tami Walker emphasized that Phillips 66 uses multivariate analysis on net promoter and other key performance indicators (KPIs) to look at drivers of buying behaviors.  The make-or-break decision for their partnerships is whether or not the property, “can produce creative solutions we can’t get elsewhere,” added Ms. Walker. Brand managers, like Ms. Walker, must focus on managing contracts in an effective manner to prove the relationship with KPIs.

Other tracking measures include social media scraping. Mr. Roddy explained, “It’s important to see if our brand is connected to the partner via fans’ social media. For example, are people posting about Cinnabon and the Texans?” Using sophisticated web crawler software, brands can analyze social media posts to determine if such a linkage increases as a part of a partnership promotion. Brands also use loyalty index tracking to compare loyalty levels of fans versus non-fans of a property.

Mr. Moseley said that AT&T partners understand that the Net Promoter Score is an important KPI, as they want customers to recommend the brand to others. In doing so, the benefit of the partnership is that the brand-fan linkage helps overcome any pain point with the provider who brings life to their devices.

When is added value really added value?

As Ms. Walker emphasized, building loyalty to the brand is more than just distributing loyalty cards or gaining name recognition. Partners seek true loyalty that shields them against competitive inroads. Properties add value through brand-fan experiences that can scale the effects through social media, as fans share the experiences with others.

For example, the 76 fuel brand partners with the Dodgers, who act as true partners to assess results and adjust to meet their partnership goals. In this sense, the property adds value through their transparency, honesty, and willingness to solve problems.

Jose Lozano, who as CEO of The Company, works with a number of national brands engaged in partnerships, encourages properties to bring their own passion into the equation. Try to understand what each brand wants, seeking to understand the brand’s customers and what they really want. Rather than arriving with a prescribed inventory of sponsorship assets, properties should identify the brand’s KPIs and find ways to bring the brand to life among their fans. When the team’s partnership executives understand how the brand measures success, they can begin to add value beyond the standard rate card for sponsorships.

The 2014 S3 Board Meeting in Pictures

The 2014 S3 Board Meeting in Pictures
by Kirk Wakefield – December 2014

The meeting for the Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) Board was held November 11th & 12th in Waco at the new McLane Stadium on the campus of Baylor University.

The only of its kind focused on selling sports, the S3 major is a selective program in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, a highly ranked Christian university. The S3 program continues to grow from its original admissions of 19 highly qualified students in 2004 to soon selecting up to 38 in each year’s incoming class. Students in the major are prepared for careers in (1) professional selling for sports (tickets, corporate partnerships & service) and (2) customer relationship management (CRM) & analytics. Read more here on the Baylor website.

Phillips 66 S3 Banquet

Dr. Darryl Lehnus, Director of the S3 program, hosted the Phillips 66 S3 Banquet attended by over 140 executives, managers, S3 alumni and current S3 students.

Dinn Mann (BU ’87), Executive Vice President and a founder of Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), provided the keynote speech, “The Changing Landscape of Digital Media & Ticket Sales.”   Mr. Mann serves on the S3 Executive Council, along with other S3 Executive Council members recognized at the banquet, including:

  • Eric Fernandez (BU ’94), Co-founder & Managing Partner, Sports Desk Media, S3 Executive Council Chair
  • Greg Grissom (BU ’95), Vice President of Corporate Development, Houston Texans, S3 Executive Council Vice-Chair
  • Tami T. Walker (BU ’86), US Brand Management, Phillips 66
  • Jose Lozano (BU ’93), Chief Executive Officer, The Company
  • Derek Blake (BU ’86 )Vice President, Partnership Marketing & Military Programs, LaQuinta Inns & Suites
  • Drew Mitchell (BU S3 ’06), Chief Revenue Officer, Texas Legends
  • Chase Jolesch (BU S3 ’10), Manager of Ticket Sales Center, Baylor University
  • Heidi Weingartner, Chief Human Resources Officer, Dallas Cowboys

Chevrolet Outstanding Board Members

Over 60 executives and managers from over 25 teams, companies, and the NBA and MLBAM offices attended the 2014 board meeting, which included an afternoon of interviews for S3 juniors for summer internships and S3 seniors for career positions.

Special thanks to Murray Cohn, Vice President of Ticket Sales (NBA),  for leading a panel of  Sales All-Stars including Jake Reynolds and Brian Norman, Philadelphia 76ers, Kris Katseanes, FC Dallas, Joe Schiavi, Detroit Pistons, and Lacey Congdon (BU S3 ’14), Texas Rangers. As always, we are grateful to Bill Guertin for mentoring S3 students and kicking of the week along with Jason Howard (Houston Astros) and Tom Parsons (Time Warner Cable Media) as part of the “Faith in the Workplace” panel discussion.

The meetings concluded with the Chevrolet Outstanding S3 Awards given this year to:

  • Outstanding Team Board Member: Greg Grissom, Vice President of Corporate Development, Houston Texans
  • Outstanding Corporate Board Member: Lynda Carrier Metz, Chief Marketing Officer, Restaurant Management Company (Pizza Hut)
  • Outstanding S3 Alum: Bryan Apgar (BU S3 ’07) Vice President of Sales & Business Development, Website Alive
  • Outstanding S3 Report Writer: Anne Rivers, Senior Vice President, Global Director of Brand Strategy at BAV Consulting

The 2014 S3 Board Meeting in Pictures

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