Earlier this year

Fostering a Unique Club Identity and Brand

If I referred to the Tarheals, Sooners, LadyVols or the Seminoles, I will be clearly referring to a basketball team with a unique identity. If I referred to the Bears, the Sharks, the Sea Eagles or the Panthers, what team springs to mind? If you follow the NRL, you will readily associate these names with North Sydney (now defunct), Sutherland, Manly and Penrith. For good reason - these rugby teams have been playing for several decades and have taken the time and effort to develop logos, colours, team songs etc.

To be sure, players I have known will try their hearts out for each other regardless of the name of their team. Playing for each other and their district is enough. However unique identity coupled with branding can inspire those within. Like when judging what is an obscenity or what is pornography - you know it when you see it. Here I am talking about regional clubs, not small teams that play inside a district.

Having a unique identity certainly matters if the regional club wishes to expand its base of supporters or take advantage of merchandising opportunities. You can't be culturally derivative, borrowing chants, slogans and brands associated with other teams and other cultures and expect to attract new support and genuinely inspire those within.

The other day I walked into a local store and saw hangers full of training singlets with the colours and names of one of the aforementioned basketball teams. Although the singlets were suitable for basketball, the logos and colours actually belonged to the rugby league team. If, in some hopeful future, the basketball club in question actually developed a strong local following, they probably could not sell their own singlets in the local sports store, because they will be breaching a NRL trademark!

Successful clubs are successful because they pay attention to fostering their own identity. Do people consider this much of an issue? Are there regional clubs within Australia that have done a good job at fostering a local identity and brand building?

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