“Be who you are by branding who you are.”
I am fed up with one particular sports fad. Sick and tired. So over-the-top-angry it has forced me into a grumpy, “get-off-my-lawn” old man rant.
I turned on NCAA football last Saturday. It was a Big 12 game between Texas and…
Wait, who was that other team? The game was in Stillwater, Oklahoma so didn’t it have to be the Oklahoma State Cowboys? I couldn’t tell for sure. Eventually, I recognized some familiar OkSt names and, yes, it was Oklahoma State. Besides being orange and black, their uniforms were hardly recognizable as belonging to the Cowboys. They, like the Oregon Ducks, have gone uber crazy with alternate uniforms, helmets, and logos.
A couple of weeks ago they wore this helmet with logo.
The week after, they wore this helmet with logo.
In their desire to be different, they lost who they are. In their drive to be hip and cool, they became forgettable. Who they are as a brand is no longer indelible in my psyche.
Sure, in recent history, the Oregon Ducks unis can be considered as flashy. It’s just they have sacrificed a vital part of their identification in order to be whacky with the uniforms. The association with a visual that instantly brings to mind high-powered, high-octane offenses snapping the ball every 12-15 seconds, doesn’t exist for me.
Looks at this:
I’m not a huge fan of the Texas Longhorns but when I see their uniform and when I see their helmet and logo, I immediately think about Darrel Royal and the wishbone offense, John Mackovic and the upset of the vaunted Nebraska team in the first Big 12 Championship game, or Vince Young tip-toeing into the end zone to defeat USC in the BCS National Title Game in 2006.
That’s what a brand does. It “brands” your perception of a visual image to an association of personal memories. That’s NOT what 47 different possible uniform combinations does.
What exactly is a brand and why is it important?
As a follower of marketing expert Seth Godin, I think his basic definition of a brand comes about as close to answering the above question as any other definition I’ve read.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
In short, having a recognizable brand pays off for your people for year after year after year.
So, please stop it!
Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Under Armor and all other apparel suppliers, help your clients with their brand, quit pushing sports programs to make your brand their brand. Last spring, I heard K-State color commentator, Stan Weber, say that Company X can’t wait for Bill Snyder to retire so they can roll out a whole line of alternate uniforms. HEY, COMPANY X…DON”T! In fact, Company X…GO AWAY! Make shoes, sell apparel, get a stable of professional athletes to hawk your wares for you. Just stop this alternate uniform insanity.
Schools and sports programs, develop a brand and associate it with who you are as a program. Follow the lead of classics like:
Be who you are by branding who you are.