A strong brand will help your company – or team – even more in bad times.
We’ve all missed goals, whether they’re personal or professional. Individual or team goals. The trick is rebounding from those misses so that one miss doesn’t become two…or twenty. The strength of your brand is given the opportunity to shine in just these types of circumstances.
At the beginning of this year’s MLB season, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (don’t even get me started on that name) had a marketing plan. In the off-season they had acquired the hottest name in baseball – Albert Pujols – from free-agency. And they were determined to use him to market the team in whatever way they thought best.
The Angels’ marketing team developed an entire campaign around Pujols, nicknaming him “El Hombre.” You can’t fault the team for wanting to show off their prize possession, however Pujols was less than thrilled about the campaign that you can read about here, but that’s not the point of this story.
My point comes in Albert’s performance through the opening months of the season. Through 42 games he was batting over 100 points below his career average with only 3 homeruns. Any baseball fan can tell you this is not the reason the Angels made him the highest paid player in history. As if that wasn’t enough, the Angels are currently in last place in their division and drawing around 33,600 fans per game in a stadium that had averaged 41,000 fans since it was built.
It’s safe to say the Angels are not reaching their goals, and part of this is due to building their messaging around a player that is performing poorly. I can’t say that the team’s performance doesn’t play a factor, because it does, but if the Angels had established a stronger brand message, a stronger affinity for the team, before a poor season came around or their star hit a slump, the effects may not have been as bad.
Compare the Angels to the class team of the city – the Lakers. Sure, they’ve won more than any other team, but they’ve had down seasons too. During the last 10 years (probably more) they have consistently sold out their arena. During that same time they’ve both won championships and missed the playoffs. Attendance didn’t suffer. Or you can look at the LA Clippers. Same arena. Same city. Different brand. They had a great year in 2011-12 and sold out the arena too, but the previous 10 years they were averaging 90% capacity with ticket prices averaging $67 less per seat than a Lakers game. Their ticket sales are much more directly tied to their win/loss record than the brand of the team.
People don’t often cheer for brands, but a strong brand will help you withstand a bad quarter, tragedy, product recall, maybe even a recession. If people like your brand and what you stand for they are much less likely to give up your product for a generic alternative when the times get tough. They’ll be more likely to believe you’re doing the right thing in the wake of a plant accident. Many times people can’t put into words why they prefer one brand over another, but choices are made every day based on brand perception. Is your brand strong enough to help your goals seem more achievable? Can it keep you afloat during rough times? If you can’t immediately answer ‘yes’ maybe it’s time to give your brand some love and attention.