Often, Club's go through periods of culture change, whether forcibly due to crisis, or as part of standard process. Club's intent on being more professional, making their mark, being respected in the competition and building a strong culture. These discussions for too long have been internal messaging only, and while the intent is to portray the message of "this is what we stand for" into the community, the perception is often very different. Perception is reality.
Who are we? What do we stand for? How do we want to be seen by our peers, opposition, supporters, members, and wider community?
Over the last 20 or so years, in Premier Cricket, AFL Clubs, local Football and Soccer Clubs, I've been in many meetings on both sides of the table as a player, committeeman, and supplier discussing those exact questions. The best examples of successful actioning of the outcomes has been by using visual methods. This has mainly been by the use of signage in and around the Club or business reenforcing the key values and behaviours so players and staff can see them each day, has been proven to have the most effect. Visual works.
Not until recently, being involved in above such meetings, have I seen a shift in ideology of Company Executives and Club Committees when it comes to visual branding...Club's now want and understand the importance of determining the Club or Company's visual identity, and not leave it up to the supplier, selecting from ready made templates that are used by everyone else. The supplier's role is to accomodate and offer experience as experts in design, performance, logistics, production, and relationships.
"Daily reenforcement of our values and identity has best success in how we present"
How we visually present, has immediate and effective positive responses to those internally and externally.....perception. This works with both a dress code and strength of uniform design. In business it may be by wearing a suit to work, being clean shaved, or even making sure you've ironed the company polo. In Club land, staff and player discipline is developed by ensuring everyone is wearing the correct uniform at all times, to treat the uniform with respect, as this uniform represents not only ourselves, our Club, but what we stand for, and who we are.
Club's are identifying that with a strong visual representation, their players have more pride, they have immediate respect from the opposition, they are more likely to attract and maintain sponsors, and their Club develops a positive reputation in the community. And the most rewarding part of this, is that Club's are now owning their space....
It used to be a sign of importance that having a major international brand logo on Club uniform was the best way of visually portraying your "brand". This has now changed and Club's are more empowered than ever by having the ability to make the Club brand more important than the multi international logo. This is done by designing their own merchandise range, and by being engaged in the process, that best fits within their values. This process should be no different to when seeking out a community or charity partner, or sponsors with which to align your brand.
Conversely, lower league Clubs often go for the cheapest apparel alternative, sacrificing their brand and losing their space in the process. All Clubs should want to encourage and support enhancing community perception, by developing a merchandise program that has the best value, not necessarily the cheapest. What else can your apparel supplier do for you? Successful merchandise programs grow perception and revenue.
"The ability to create your most successful brand reenforcement tool is yours to own"
- Visual branding is the most successful method of reenforcing internal values
- Daily reenforcement of your Club's key values builds successful culture.
- Uniform develops discipline and sense of belonging.
- a strong visual identity displays professionalism and strengthens community perception
Aligning with an apparel partner that understands these fundamental aspects is a key component for Club's wanting to create and maintain a successful culture.