Why associate your brand with sport?  - Well a brand is a personality, an identity, a set of principles, an idea. But as marketing guru Seth Godin points out, to convey this through the advertising slogans and assertions like…..

‘Best Quality’

‘Wonderful service’

‘Cheapest deal’

                        ……..just does not cut it any more. No one believes the advertising slogan. We have been bombarded with advertising slogans for so long we simply distrust the message. The story of the great service, as experienced by the individual and transmitted by word of mouth, that is the way a brand is built. And today’s digital world ensures word of mouth stories transmit widely and with astonishing speed.

The best stories come from real life experiences, and sport can provide those experiences  - and for the marketer positive experiences. Whether this is the mass participation in a running or cycling event, or the hosted hospitality at a major competition. Sport provides the opportunity for stories.

But one has always to recognise 4 key principles of brand story telling

1. Great Stories appeal to emotion

A great brand story should never be one of logic – it is not about listing more and better features than the competitor. It is about emotion. If you have ever been a competitor in a community running event, or had a member of the family in an event, you will know the stories.

Sport stories are about thrills, excitement, teamwork, competition and winning. If these emotions match your brand values then the stories will flow.

2. Great stories are about authenticity

This is where the pitfalls lie – for brands in the health and fitness arena or even on-line betting companies, there is an obvious link with sport. But for other brands there is a danger about a lack of authenticity. McDonalds have been involved in football for some time, both as the sponsor of the FA Community Shield and also in community football days. However, one is left wandering about the authenticity of this fast food restaurant and the authenticity of the story.

3. Great Stories do not appeal to everyone

The concept of segmentation and focus on a target market is well established. When choosing your sport or event there is a need to understand your target market – where the story will resonate. HSBC has been clever in this respect, choosing the Rugby Sevens competition for the international corporate sector of its business, but as a high street bank has aligned with British Cycling and the City Rides community events as well. Two markets and two authentic sets of stories.

4. Great stories travel fast

Stories travel fast and the story is NOT controlled by the marketer. This means that there is a possibility of rogue stories. Remember the man dragged from a United Airlines plane in 2017, the story went global in hours. The PR team at United took days before they responded. Lesson here for all about monitoring the story and responding to the bad and encouraging the good.

Thoughts from - All Marketers are Tell Stories – Seth Godwin (also Purple Cow by the same author) – but hey, it was a great story.

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