Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Lesson in Branding: How I became a little more of a Seahawks fan

Last week, I got a lesson in branding.  Even if you are not a sports fan, you will (probably) appreciate this.

I grew up in the Chicago Area, and I rooted for the Chicago Bears.  I spent some time in North Carolina, Northeast Ohio, and I now live in Detroit.  So I have some allegiance to the Carolina Panthers, the Cleveland Browns, and the Detroit Lions.
However, last week, I became a little more of a Seattle Seahawks fan.

Branding comes in all sorts of forms…for all sorts of people, products, services, and businesses.  Sports is no exception, in fact it might be one of the strongest examples of branding we’ll ever find.

Last week, I read a story that did not necessarily teach me anything, but I got a reminder of an important lesson.

For those of you who are not “sports people,” the Seattle Seahawks are a professional (NFL) football team.  They just finished winning the Super Bowl (the national football championship), and they did it in dominating fashion.

So as a football franchise, they are on (or near) the top of the world right now.  Their football team is really good.  Their fan base seems pretty awesome and supportive.

For better or worse, the Seattle Seahawks really do not need to be “nice” to many people, places, or things.  Right now, their team’s brand is not going to suffer from them not “being nice.”

…and that’s EXACTLY why I am a little more of a fan of the Seattle Seahawks.

They did something really nice…especially nice!

Each year, professional football teams get to draft players who are leaving college football to play professional football.  Of course, each team wants to pick the best football player available when it’s their turn to draft.

Football teams have a lot of needs.  Not only are there eleven (11) players on the playing field at one time, football is a complex game.  Teams needs lots of players they can switch in and out of the game, depending on the game’s situation.

Plus, football is a rough game.  It takes a physical toll on humans playing it.  Most playing careers are not long, meaning teams constantly need reinforcements to add to their team’s squad.

So they WANT to draft good players, and they need them.

During this year’s draft, the Seattle Seahawks picked Garrett Scott, who plays on the offensive line.  He played at Marshall University.

Since we are talking about the 6th round of the draft—not the 1st round—casual football fans are not spending a lot of time talking about anyone drafted there.  However, players in every round are important for these professional football teams.

Shortly after drafting Garrett Scott, the Seattle Seahawks discovered that he has a certain heart condition, and Garrett Scott cannot play football without risking his health, possibly his life.

That was a bummer for the Seattle Seahawks, but imagine how much MORE of a bummer that was for Garrett Scott!

Garrett Scott prepared his entire life for the opportunity to play the game of football on a professional level.  He worked hard enough to become good enough to get drafted.

Despite the fact he is a good enough football player, he cannot play football for the Seattle Seahawks…or any other team.

What does this have to do with Seattle being “nice?”

The Seahawks discovered the rare heart condition in Garrett Scott…BEFORE they signed him to a contract.

Yet, the ‘Hawks signed Garrett Scott to a $500,000 contract and cut him immediately afterward.

The Seattle Seahawks PAID Garrett Scott, even though they KNEW he could not contribute to the team.

This a great lesson in branding yourself…the right way!

Of course, newspapers covered it, and people like me are writing about it…spreading the word.

The Seahawks were nice…even when they did not have to be.

I’m sure Garrett Scott is devastated over not being able to pursue his lifelong dream of playing professional football, but getting $500,000 helps soften that blow a little.

All of us can learn by this.  If we do big things, we will get coverage, and our brands will get more exposure. If we do the right things, our brands won’t just get exposure, it will get the type of exposure we want it to have.

…and THAT is the ultimate example of how you brand yourself the right way.

I never thought I’d say or write this, but…Go ‘Hawks!  Your branding got me…and I’m proud to be hooked by it.  (Just go easy on my Bears, Lions, etc.)

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