Personal Branding: What The NFL Can Teach You About Creating a Compelling Brand

This weekend is NFL Draft weekend. Most of you probably knew that, even if you are not a sports fan.

This is worth mentioning because, for the other major sports leagues like Major League Baseball and the NBA, few people besides the most die-hard fans even pay attention.

Yet the NFL Draft generates headlines and dominates the media, even as basketball season and hockey season wind down and the playoffs begin.

So the question is, how has the NFL created such a compelling brand? And what lessons can you draw from their success and apply to your own brand?

Below are four lessons to consider.

1) Scarcity and exclusivity creates demand. Each major league baseball team plays 162 games. Professional hockey and basketball teams each play more than 80 games. The result is that, for most fans, supply simply exceeds demand. Fans don’t rise and fall with each game and each development, and when the season ends, many fans are perfectly happy to go the entire offseason without thinking about their team very much. The lesson for your brand: If you can create a perception of exclusivity and scarcity, your perceived value will increase.

2) To maximize exposure, give your audience a variety of channels to engage with your brand. The NFL makes it incredibly easy for their fans to participate. Beyond simply watching the games, fans can watch highlights on TV during the offseason, participate in online chat forums, attend “Draft Parties” and other events, purchase jerseys and memorabilia, and more. The lesson for your brand: The more channels you can use to “touch” your customers and your market, the more likely they are to stay engaged with your brand.

3) Get out in front of bad news or bad press. The NFL is certainly not devoid of controversy. In fact, it seems like every year features a number of scandals which threaten the integrity of the game. From coaches placing “bounties” on the heads of opposing players to the dangers posed by head injuries, there are always more than enough negative press to cause problems. Yet, the NFL seems to come out unscathed time and time again. How do they do it? By consistently getting ahead of the news cycle and by seeking to proactively address concerns. The most obvious example in recent years has been the league’s efforts to promote player safety as attention to brain injuries has increased. The lesson for your brand: Don’t attempt to “out-run” bad news or bad press. Address it proactively and put it behind you!

4) Give your customers what they want, how they want it. The NFL makes it very easy to watch their games and other events. You can watch them in person at the stadium. You can watch them on TV at home. You can stream them on your iPhone. You can watch them at a sports bar. If you don’t have three hours to kill, you can watch the highlights after the game. You can even have access to the same camera angles that coaches and players do if you’d like to “break down the film” after a game. The point is, no matter what your personal preferences may be, the NFL has a solution for YOU. The lesson for your brand: Give your customers what they want. Make it easy to do business with you!

It’s safe to say that few businesses will ever build a brand as powerful as the NFL’s. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn valuable lessons from their success. Feel free to contact me today for more on this subject!