While here, I’m trying to keep to New Years resolutions by getting back on track writing on my blog; back home in Brazil, teams make their final adjustments on signing players for the new season. The question I have is: are they analysing their squad and new-comers with enough concern about the brand?
A company has no asset more valuable than their brand. It is the reason why people connect to them, want to work with them, purchase their product/service, do everything. Knowing who you are and the image you portray is vital whether your are Manchester United or the local youth team around the corner. And the players who join your club are a key element to define who you are and who you will be. But are all football clubs aware of all of this? I believe that most major clubs in the world neglect that specially in Brazil…
In “The Elusive Fan”, Irving Rein, Philip Kotler and Ben Shields discuss how building a sports brand includes the important stage of selecting the Sports Type Imprints that relate to your club. Of course, a team is not built on a single type of player, but fans of different clubs will connect to a player according to how his type fits with the clubs type. So – even though there will be many players who might “stay in the background” for the stars – when deciding where to invest heavily for a key star player, these attributes should be considered . Would a Phenom kind of player fit an Underdog team or does a Hero work better?
To put it into context, let’s take as an example the up and coming Brazilian star who, despite signing a new contract with Santos until 2014, still generates a lot of speculation about his future: Neymar. He could be considered a Natural, a Genius or even a Brat, depending on where his career takes him. So far, rumours have “put him” in clubs as Real Madrid and Barcelona. But which club brand would fit Neymar’s brand best? Or which club brand could benefit the most from signing Neymar? Or still, which club brand would benefit Neymar’s brand the most?
I won’t dare to make a deep analysis of such a complex issue in a short blog post, but I will give you some extra info to help you think about it.
Neymar defines himself with two words: “ousadia e alegria”, directly translated as boldness and joy, though I believe “daring and playful” might sum it up best in English. With his Mohican hairdo and being chosen the most beautiful goal in 2011 by FIFA he is creating a differentiated brand in every move.
Since around the year 2000, Real Madrid got itself the nickname “Los Galacticos” (The Galactic) for being the club that signed the main stars in the world in a team that joined Ronaldo, Zidane, Beckham, Raul, Figo and Roberto Carlos. Despite not having the same stellar squad, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Los Galacticos is most likely the image that still remains.
Barcelona FC, currently considered the best team in in the world, also has one of the strongest brand images around, with a clear motto which they promote really well: “Més que un club” (More than a club). And Barcelona works on being “more than a club” in all it does, including an extensive grass-roots program to nurture new talent – out of which star players as Xavi, Iniesta and of course, Messi came – while educating them on the history of the club and region.
So what are your thoughts? Out of these brands, which is the best marriage?
Marketing shouldn’t be the only goal when evaluating a player signing, but the impact a player will have on your club is something that cannot be neglected in building a stronger club brand.