The Making *or Breaking* of Your Brand

Sports and competition are a metaphor for life. If you grew up playing football, tennis, ping pong, pool, chess or any game under the sun, you know that when you’re performing well in competition, life is GRAND.

But on the flip side, when you’re struggling in competition, you can’t seem to catch a break and the losses are piling up, you might overthink and suddenly you’re all in your head. 

Life and work are the same way, we land a few big deals and feel like nothing can go wrong. Our energy is high, smiles are big…If we miss out on a series of deals, morale is shot, we feel like nothing can go right.

And to take it even a step further, watching sports has a similar effect. (And if you don’t watch sports you have definitely witnessed this phenomenon in whoever you know that does.) 

Your favorite teams become a part of your identity. Beat your rivals and you feel untouchable, there’s so many bragging rights. Lose to your rivals, and uh oh. Win a playoff game and for the next week you feel like you’re walking on clouds at work. Lose a playoff game and suddenly everything is darker in the world.

Should I stop there? No. This is all accentuated 10x by our favorite players on those teams. Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Caitlin Clark, Lewis Hamilton, whoever your favorite player is, you see yourself in them. Whether it’s their similar upbringing to you, years of dedication to perfect their craft, or humility in victory AND defeat, they resonate with you.

Their struggles become your struggles, their triumphs become your triumphs, and most importantly since this is a Marketing email, their jerseys become your entire wardrobe, their posters become your wall decor, and their favorite products become your favorite products.

That’s the power of personalities. 

Let me ask you this, would you rather follow the Kansas City Chiefs brand Instagram account? Or follow Travis Kelce’s Instagram account? Easy answer. 

It’s harder to resonate with a brand logo than it is to a smiling face, people want to follow people, not brands.

**There is a caveat though. This doesn’t mean you should ditch posting on your brand accounts and have your CEO become the next B2B influencer. Add a touch of personality to your brand accounts, via memes, the occasional typo, some sass, anything to subtly signal to the market that, “Hey there’s a human behind this brand.”**

Exactly like HubSpot does here with their clear knowledge of cultural lingo. 👇

Hiring or partnering with the right personalities can have a direct impact on your bottom line, or in today’s case, stock price.

On February 1st, Formula One LEGEND, Lewis Hamilton announced that he was opting out of the second year of his contract with Mercedes and instead inked a deal with Ferrari. Off the back of a strong earnings report and Lewis Hamilton’s newfound loyalty to Ferrari, their stock jumped 10% and added $10B in market cap in one day. In the month following the announcement, Ferrari stock is up 24%.

Lewis Hamilton knew how big of an impact this move would have on the industry that he didn’t even tell his parents about the move until the DAY OF the announcement. (Don’t worry Mom, if I was signing with Ferrari (I’m not), I’d tell you immediately.) Yes, I just used parentheses inside of parentheses.

Hamilton is hands down the most recognizable figure in Formula one, boasting over 40M followers across socials. On top of that, Hamilton is one of the most successful F1 drivers of all time, with the most wins (103) and tied for most World Championships (7). I could sit here all day and rattle off F1 facts LOL.

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On and off the track Lewis Hamilton exudes success. He IS the cream of the crop when it comes to F1. So what does Ferrari signing him to a deal do to their brand inside and outside of the sport?

Hamilton represents a TON of F1 fans whose new favorite team is Ferrari, and you know what sports fans do with their favorite teams…buy their merch. Immediately Ferrari will see an uptick in merch sales, which for our performance Marketers is incredibly attractive, right away the bottom line will see benefit.

But the biggest lift Ferrari will see from this partnership is in their brand image. The reason so many large brands love to sponsor Formula One is because of the association the sport has with cutting edge technology, innovation, and excitement. For a brand like Oracle who is eager to be seen in the market as at the forefront of tech, sponsoring an F1 team is a no-brainer.

However there are some massive potential risks. 

Your performance on the track has a massive influence on your perception in the market. Cool, you sponsor an F1 team, but what if that F1 team crosses the finish line last every single race?

That F1 team, along with all of the large sponsors draped on its sides, becomes the laughing stock of the championship series. How can you expect to build an image of being at the forefront of tech, an aura of operational excellence, and reliability when the car you sponsor can’t even sniff the leaderboard?

That’s the risk you run with sponsoring an F1 team. But thanks to the pedigree of Lewis Hamilton and the increased likelihood of success on the track now, Ferrari (AND their sponsors) will be benefiting from an enhanced perception in the eyes of consumers.

Who you partner with MATTERS. It can make or break your campaign, brand image, and budget. The wrong partnership can be costly, and I don’t just mean in dollars…

Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
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