People, as a whole, prefer tribes or communities of other like-minded individuals. Brands that can cultivate and grow communities around shared values become leaders in their industry and markets. Disney, Starbucks, Apple, and Delta are well-known corporate brands that have attracted a community based on shared values, beliefs, and a consistently positive brand experience. In sports, teams can amass large followings of fans who stick with them, win or lose. Last night, I experienced the positive energy of sharing a common interest with over 39,000 people: the Chicago Cubs.
There is a phenomenon that surrounds powerful brands who create a sense of pride and community around a set of common shared values. I’ve written extensively on the foundational pillars of brands such as core values, brand promise, and guiding principles. With sports teams, there is a special pride that comes along with it. The team is connected to the city in which you live, work, and play. Therefore, you can become attached to the team representing your city. The team’s actions become a representation of both you and your city.
My First Local Sports Teams
Team), and the Seattle Seahawks (NFL Team). For most of my childhood, none of the three major sports teams did very well. While it was fun to experience the games live, there was a sort of stigma that came with it, being that the teams did not win consistently.
In the mid-90’s, the Sonics made a run in the playoffs against the Chicago Bulls. Seattle was in the spotlight! The entire city came together, supporting the Sonics in their quest to become NBA champions. That was one of the first moments as a kid seeing the power of community and shared values. The entire city of Seattle wanted the Sonics to beat the Bulls to win the NBA Championship. It was like the entire city was on the Sonics basketball team. The pride that people had for the team extended into pride for the city.
While the Sonics ultimately lost, the pride and community that grew out of that, flourished. In fact, the pride and love for the Sonics are still so intense that a campaign has been underway to bring the team back to Seattle. Talk about a brand bringing people together!
Shared Values with an Established Brand
At Washington State University, I got to experience the passion, pride, and love for a University team that I have yet to experience anywhere else. Set among the rolling wheat fields and the natural Palouse landscape, the WSU campus is like an oasis in the desert. Once on campus, it is bustling with students from all over the world, studying everything imaginable. Many of the students rally around the sports teams, particularly the Cougars football team.
Now when you mention Cougar football, you often do not receive the best reactions. They always seem to have hit-or-miss seasons. However, that has never stopped the sold out games, tailgating parties, and social events that take place in and around Martin Stadium. The sense of pride of being a Cougar goes far deeper than a win/loss record. That is the power of a brand. Those that graduate and are Cougar Alumni share a common set of values and principles that they live by each day. For true Cougar pride, it is not about winning or losing, but coming together to cheer and support our University. That is part of what makes the Cougar brand so special.
No matter where I travel, when I meet a fellow WSU Cougar, there is an instant common bond. The rolling hills of the Palouse, the bright red brick buildings, and the sense of pride in having studied at the university.
An Incredible Experience at Wrigley Field
As a new Chicagoan and Cubs fan, I have found myself on more than one occasion staying up late to watch the end of a game, eating Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza, and having a 312 from Goose Island Beer Co. But there is nothing like watching the Cubs play at Wrigley Field.
Chicago has had amazing weather this summer and now fall. Last night was no different. We enjoyed the game with the other 39,000+ fans in 75-degree weather, cheering on the Cubs as they took on the Cincinnati Reds. The crowd was fairly quiet through the first several innings. It didn’t help that the Reds had taken a 2-0 lead quickly. However, in the bottom of the sixth, the momentum started to turn in our favor. The Cubs ended up hitting two home runs to tie the game. The pace picked up, the crowd came alive with chants and cheers, and in the bottom of the eighth inning the Cubs took the lead with a single home run and a two-run home run, taking the lead 2-5. Starting at the top of the ninth inning, the crowd on its feet, cheered on as our closer, Chapman, shut down the Reds and ended the game. This ignited the fans to cheer even louder and to sing along to the Cubs victory song, Go Cubs Go.
A Chance to Make History
The Cubs have a chance to make history this season and become champions. The Cubs brand an overwhelmingly positive attitude, sticking it out with the team over many, many years of ups and downs. The Cubs bring out the best of Chicago and ignite a massive community of fans who want to go on the journey with them as they play to become champions. The Cubs brand, in my opinion, is one of the best in the MLB at the moment.
How You Can Apply These Same Tactics with your Brand
The customer journey is filled with opportunities to encourage and increase engagement and interaction. As you think about your brand, how can you get your customers and fans to get excited like Cubs fans? It starts with designing the experience with specific outcomes you want your customers to have, be it a feeling of satisfaction, optimism, or excitement. Working backwards, how can you plan and design a series of events that the customer will be led through to realise the specific outcome.
We can help you craft an exceptional brand experience that consistently delivers the results you seek for your customers. Contact us to discuss your project.
Over to You
Which sports teams do you identify with and have a never-ending pride for? What values does the team express that you share in common? How can you identify values within your own brand that can unite a community like the Chicago Cubs?