In today’s cut throat markets, with competition constantly increasing, a company’s brand is everything. It has become more and more important over the years as a marker to set themselves apart, but today a company really must ‘live’ their brand if they want to succeed. There are several excellent examples of this in various industries, but none more so than sport.
Sport is an odd area to market at, because it mixes both social hobby and more professional, extreme lifestyle sides, which can make it a tough pitch. However, many hobbyist sportsmen are attracted by the lifestyle side of sport – especially within extreme sports – and this is where the market is pitched. If your largest market wishes to ‘live’ the sport, whether that’s living in the mountains and snowboarding back-country powder all day or camping in a hut and surfing breaks at dawn, your brand must also.
Red Bull are the original and probably best known pioneers of the ‘living the brand’. From soccer to e-sports, mountain biking to wing suit flying, breakdancing to air racing, there isn’t a sport, extreme or otherwise, that they aren’t involved in. Without the money that Red Bull have pumped in, it could be argued that many of the more obscure sports wouldn’t have nearly the exposure that they do today, and more people watching or participating means more exposure for the brand. Some estimates put figures of almost 1/3 of revenue generated by the drink goes back into sponsorship, and through this, they have become synonymous with all kinds of sport.
Oakley are another great example, but in a different niche. Originally simply a glasses manufacturer, Oakley have now diversified into a multitude of sportswear and apparel, but have managed to keep themselves at the forefront of the market with innovative design and well selected sponsorship. Oakley sunglasses lead the way in optics, protection and innovation, and have always been expensive. This mark above the rest in both design and quality, combined with sponsorship of the elite echelons of athletes means that they have been at the top for more than 20 years. Again, this leads to a ubiquitous relationship with certain sports, and keeps them in top spot.
Creating a brand today in such a crowded marketplace is a tough job. Learning from these marketing giants about how to become inextricably linked with your market is a very valuable lesson, and could pave the way to your success.