Thankfully, it’s time for the college football season to start. With all the color, pageantry, traditions, fanaticism, and school spirit that go with it, college football offers a complete experience unlike any other sport. And, perhaps, unlike any other brand.
The first college football game I attended was Harvard-Yale at the Yale Bowl in New Haven. I was maybe 10 or 11 at the time, and I remember people tailgating, seeing “Handsome Dan” the Yale bulldog mascot, watching the bands perform, looking at real live college cheerleaders, and using what I thought was a very cool men’s urinal (a simple marble wall with a horizontal pipe trickling water across the top and a trough drain along the floor).
Years later, I graduated from Auburn University. The game-day experience at Auburn was different from what I remembered at the Yale-Harvard game: a much larger stadium with many more fans, folks dressed in all manner of orange and blue, RVs showing up on the Wednesday before a home game, Aubie the costumed mascot and Tiger the golden eagle, the traditional pre-kick-off buildup chant of “War Eagle!” and much more.
When it comes to branding, college football gets it. Or, at least many schools get it. Close attention is paid to every touch point: media exposure, school colors, licensed merchandise, the traditions unique to each team, tailgating experiences, the marching bands’ presentation, pre-game ceremonies, etc. Each game-day experience is a carefully defined, highly choreographed series of events: a carefully crafted and executed brand identity, delivered as experiences; brand touch points for that particular school. The result of their delivery is the formation or reinforcement of an image by those experiencing the touch points — whether it be live or on television.
As you watch some college football this season, what concepts can you borrow for your business team’s branding playbook? Probably a lot. Because really, delivering a football game-day experience has a lot more in common with how you deliver a sales-day experience than you think.
Oh, and one more thing: “War Eagle!”