Branding lessons from a Baseball game?

There is rarely a game that goes by that I do not watch at least part of it.  My DVR records every single game or show that has the term ‘Mariners’ in it.  Their recent winning streak has been more than fun to watch and be a part of.  Since May 18th, which happened to be our 27th wedding anniversary, they have won 17 games out of the 22 games they played. For those of you who do not watch Baseball, this is an amazing statistic.  To win that often, placed them above last years World Series winners, the Astros. While I’m writing this today, the Mariners and Astros are neck and neck in the standings. 

I’m writing this while the M’s and Angels are playing.  It’s the top of the 3rd inning, and they are tied 2-2. 3 of those runs were Home Runs, with Cruz bringing in Jean Segura. In other words, for all those who believe Baseball is boring and slow, think again. Baseball can be slow, but then all of a sudden, BOOM! A player slugs through the hole to center and another run comes in.

Okay, Okay, what does Baseball have to do with BRANDING? Through the remainder of this game, I will share with you the next five lessons I notice.

I could write about things I notice such as the URLs, websites, colors, logos, t-shirts, uniforms, contests, twitter handles, car wraps, mascots, Instagram hashtags, blah, blah, blah, blah.  You see all these tools in the first few minutes of any Baseball game. If your company is not familiar with these things, then look at any blog out there about branding they will try to get you to buy their version of these branding tools. We are going to go a little deeper in this post.

It’s the top of the 4th inning, and it is still 2-2.  There have been some hits; there have been outs. The one thing I have noticed in the midst of ‘Nothing Happening,’ is the fans are still fired up.  There are fans in blue (Mariners) and fans in red (Angles) all sitting amount one another in the stands.

Lesson #1: Branding is about building a fanbase

What are you doing to create strong advocates for your business? Does your service reflect the fact that you have the kind of company that is worthy of loyalty?  Or, do you build loyalty programs despite poor service? Every single branding decision should be about creating a base of people who choose you over your competition every time. There is no way I would wear an Angels cap. I’m “True to the Blue.”  In fact, that is their hashtag, #truetotheblue. So ask yourself, how are you building a solid group of people who are your loyal brand ambassadors?

It’s now the bottom of the 4th, and Cruz hits another homer. He’s on fire. Seager hits for a single and Ryon Healy hits a Home Run that brings Kyle Seager in.

Lesson #2: Keep going even when you’re hot

Nelson Cruz’s batting average is .275.  Meaning, about of 1,000 times at bat, he gets on base 275 times.  That means he doesn’t 725 times.  That’s what I love about Baseball, in most sports he would be considered a failure, but in Baseball he’s an all-star. In this game, he’s been up twice and has hit two homers.  He’s hot.  The thing that I have noticed with Nelson Cruz is that he looks the same every time he’s up to bat.  He knows that about 3 out of 10 times, he’s going to get on base and maybe even hit a Home Run.

What are those tasks you do on a daily basis, whether you are hot or not?  Do you think about our branding stance? Are you building brand loyalty? Are you treating customers with respect and honor?  Keep doing those things even when you are hot.

Right after the 2 Home Runs, the Angels pitcher, Andrew Heaney, gave up a hit to Heredia and walked Span.  This caused the Angels pitching coach to visit the mound two times.  I wonder what they are talking about during that visit?  The next pitch caused a pitching change bringing on Noe Ramirez to replace Heaney.

So Lesson #3 and #4 are wrapped up in the 5 minutes of this game.

Lesson #3: Don’t play it safe, take risks

Branding a business can be dangerous.  You do it wrong, and you could mess up your loyalty base for a long time. But you do it right, and you’ll have fans forever. The key here is to keep serving customers, keep building.  Remember that branding is not a logo or a website, it’s a feeling. It’s a fan. It’s a customer thinking about your service before they think about any of your competitors. #truetoyourbusiness.  To do this, you may have to take some risks. You may have to invest in a youth team and spend time with those parents.  It’s a risk; it may not pay off.  On the other hand, if it does, you’ll have fans for life.

Lesson #4: Be willing to make changes to your strategy

The Angels noticed that their pitcher, Heaney, was getting tired.  He walked someone.  He had less command of his pitch. He was replaced. If you are working with a marketing/branding company that is not doing their job, replace them.  If you are doing something that is causing more harm than good, do something different.  Change it up.  Be daring and do something audacious.

Lesson #5: Be there for your customers

The game continued, and it was a nail-biter all the way to the end with another Home Run by the Angels in the top of the 8th, but in the end, the Mariners took the game 5-3.  As I was looking at branding strategy and different clever ways to point out that branding is all over Baseball, I noticed something. The players show up. Without the players, there are no fans. There are 162 games in the regular Baseball season. These players are on between 5-6 days a week.  They are on seven months out of the year. They show up. 

Are you there for your customers?  If you are, you will build a loyal fanbase who will act as your brand ambassadors.  When you show up for them, they will show up for you.  Branding is not all about logos and websites, rather how are those tactics building your own #truetothe__________________,