Sweat the assets

Go big or go home

Well, there we have it. The summer of sport has been and gone, and between the football and the Olympics, we got to see some of the world’s biggest brands compete for the attention of a global audience.

While it was interesting to see how brands were flexing their design assets in a bid to stand out from the crowd, not everyone was going for gold. A poll by tech firm RadiumOne, which asked 1,000 people in the UK about their associations in sport, has revealed that six of the top 10 brands most associated with Euro 2016, weren’t even sponsors of the tournament…

Nike came in at number three in the poll, which is fascinating. The fact that it’s not a Euro 2016 sponsor demonstrates the strength of Nike’s position as a brand that is synonymous with sport in the minds of consumers. Talk about knocking other brands out of the park.

So, how do you pull together a team of brand assets to make sure that fans remember seeing you at the stadium?


Play your biggest stars

Universally recognised, simple in form and truly iconic. That’s the power of the two simple curved lines that comprise the famous Nike ‘swoosh’, or ‘tick’ as it’s more commonly known. An asset most brands would give their right arm for.

I once heard that one of Nike’s key communication rules is “Don’t f*** with the tick”. While I’m not convinced this is entirely true (although I kind of hope it is), I love the spirit of this statement. To me it says – here’s a brand that understands the power and immediacy of an asset that has remained practically unchanged since its creation 40 years ago. It’s an asset so firmly embedded into our psyche, that it speaks directly to the athlete within us all.

Next to the tick, Nike’s power lies in its ability to attract iconic athletes to form the face of the brand. To coincide with Euro 2016, they released their longest brand film yet – 5 minutes 57 seconds. During The Switch we see Cristiano Ronaldo swap lives with a young ball boy, alongside cameos from a host of other well known footballers. It’s a nice piece that effectively reinforces Nike’s ‘Find Your Greatness’ campaign.


Make the right signings

Mexican beer brand, Tecate, were on the ropes. The Heineken brand was tied up with associations of old-fashioned masculinity – which they needed to break free from if they were going to appeal to a younger audience.

Instead of throwing in the towel, we crafted a new identity that stayed true to Tecate’s roots and elevated their iconic ‘Eagle’ symbol. It was showcased on May 2, 2015 to a worldwide audience during the Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fight. The ‘Eagle’ took centre stage and was admired by viewers from across the globe.

For Tecate, throwing their hat into the ring has paid off. The rebrand has helped improve their visibility and increased sales across the franchise by 18.6%. In fact, the fight was such good exposure, that Tecate has decided to continue to align itself to legendary boxing matches and – for the first time in the brand's history – will endorse an individual boxer, Canelo Alvarez. He’s set to wear Tecate-branded boxing trunks in the ring during 2016 to promote the brand’s ‘Born Bold’ campaign.


Practice makes perfect

In today’s world, brands are playing to a tough crowd, and traditional advertising and touch points keep getting the yellow card. As brands start to give it 110%, and make the leap into brand experiences, they need to flex the key design assets and superstars they’ve worked on and established over the years.

Returning to the poll I mentioned earlier, the brand that unsurprisingly topped the table, was Coca-Cola – the key sponsor at this year’s Euro 2016.

For over 100 years, Coca-Cola has understood the importance of key brand assets, protecting them almost religiously. Their long-standing assets include the iconic shape of the bottle, the swoosh, the word marque and, of course, the famous shade of red.

Coca-Cola’s design assets are so strong, they give the brand scope to introduce new equities and new visual languages relevant to the event or experience in question – while still being unmistakably Coca-Cola.

For Euro 2016, we drew on our experience to find insight, before getting creative and making a suite of assets that put Coca-Cola at the heart of the action. We created an extensive visual identity system that covered all participating markets, with a flexible palette of assets that matched each country's needs. The system was designed to work across merchandise, TV idents and in-ground activation to ensure the brand experience was maximized from store to stadium.

By effectively incorporating existing brand assets into a fresh, vibrant design, we helped Coca-Cola achieve their ambition of being the most talked about, and most recognisable non-apparel sponsor of the tournament.


Go big or go home

Another of this year’s Euro 2016 sponsors was Chinese electronics giant, Hisense. It was the Championship’s first ever sponsorship deal with a Chinese company in its 56 years of existence. As one of the fastest-growing Chinese brands in Europe, the deal was Hisense’s chance to make a big impression on a Western market. But without any iconic brand assets, Hisense was relegated when put against brands such as Adidas and Coca-Cola.

While sporting events offer brands a real chance to develop their personality and create some memorable experiences, if there are no recognisable brand assets, you’re going to get knocked out of consumers minds very quickly. So the game plan? Make sure you warm up and stretch your most iconic brand visuals properly before entering the competition.


As featured by The Drum