Protecting Your Club's Identity: A Guide to Growing and Promote the Club Brand

In today's crowded world, a strong brand for your sports club is more important than ever. Not only does it build a strong community, foster loyalty and sets you apart from the competition, but it has real value for the long-term viability of your club. A strong brand will help attract sponsors, members and drive merchandise sales. But just like any brand, your club's identity needs protection. Here's a guide to growing and promote your club bran. 

Before you get started, form a sub-committee or working group responsible for Brand Building.  Take stock of the current state of the club brand, and where you want it to be.  

Define the Visual Identity

This is about having a clear record of the visual aspects of your brand.  Create a list and make sure there is no uncertainty among key decision makers.  E.g. 

  • Club colours
  • Club logo or shield
  • Club name logo 
  • Taglines or mottos
  • Mascots or other insignia
  • Club Song(s)

Once you have the list, go through and be clear about what is part of each element.  Some aspects may be important, some not.  For example, what are the specific colour codes for the club colours, does the club logo need to be a certain size on club uniforms.  What is the name of the font used in the club name logo, are there rules about were the club motto can be used on uniforms or signage.  

Club History

Is there a record of the Club’s history and is it recorded?  History is such an important part of branding for sports clubs and every story is unique.  A couple of facts that should be included are: 

  • Founding date, founding members
  • Founding story, what challenges were overcome
  • Why were the club colours chosen, what does the club logo mean
  • What is special and unique about the club’s history
  • What are key dates that should be recognised and remembered

Don’t worry if your club is relatively young.  All of the history is important, is a source of pride and identity and should be recorded.  Once the history is documented, start communicating it. 

Club Values

Most clubs have clearly stated values or mission and this is part of the club’s brand and identity.  Unfortunately, most club members probably aren’t aware of the Club’s Values and this is a lost opportunity to build club identity and a sense of belonging.  Here are some ideas to promote club values as part of the overall brand: 

  • Make sure all coaches and officials acknowledge the Club Values when they take on their role at the club. 
  • Add Values to the onboarding of players
  • Clearly display your Values around the club
  • Mention Values at every club event.  
  • Make it part of training, e.g. there’s a Values session each season

Only if you live the values and make them part of everyday life at the club will they start to come to life. 

Sense of Belonging

Building a sense of belonging is an incredibly powerful brand builder and it is also at the essence of why many people are part of your club.  

If your players, officials and supporters understand more about the club, why it is special and why they are special as being part of it, they will be more loyal, more supportive and advocate more for the club over the long term.  

  • Empower your members to be brand ambassadors.
  • Encourage them to share their positive experiences on social media and recommend the club to others.
  • Organize events and activities that create lasting memories and reinforce the positive aspects of your club. That includes volunteering, social events, spectator and broader community events.
  • Make the whole community feel welcome and give them opportunities to be a part of the club.  

Loyal members are your greatest brand advocates. Invest in creating a positive club experience that motivates them to spread the word.

Get Loud

The only way to build the strength of your club’s brand is to tell everyone about it.  Repeat, repeat, repeat!  Here are some more ideas about promoting the club brand:

  • Teach young players history of the club.  Build it into training sessions and build pride in their part of being part of the new history. 
  • Teach the whole community about the club history, add facts to your newsletters.  Post flashbacks on social media. 
  • Make them feel like they are part of something special. Offer member-only benefits and shout-outs to community members. 
  • Enforce a uniform policy that means club members are distinctive and visible both in and outside the club.  
  • Add Values to pre-game briefings. 
  • Add history or brand identity to your club uniforms, signage and marketing material. 
  • Give the community a chance to be involved, especially one-off events like working bees.  
  • Use social media as a representation of your brand, in terms of visuals and content.  What members hear and see at the club should be matched by the club’s online presence. 

Remember, brand building is an ongoing process. By consistently defining, protecting, and promoting your club's identity, you'll attract new members, foster loyalty, and ensure your club thrives over the long term.