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5 branding lessons we can learn from the World Cup

By / / In Insight /
Learn how to play the branding game, says Kubi Springer – empower your team with a strong strategy and the skills to implement it. Here are her key branding lessons to help you maximise your ROI and make your brand as exciting as a World Cup victory.
branding lessons

The 2018 World Cup was exciting; the games, the players, the dynamism of it all – even for those of us not into football, it was simply exhilarating. Gallivanting round the country and showing rise to the underdogs, this season will go down as one of the most successful in FIFA history; capturing a worldwide audience of 3.2 billion, generating an estimated £4.6 billion in revenue and giving away a reported £29 million to France as the winners (according to GlobalWebIndex), it was definitely one that will be remembered.

Branding lessons

But now that it’s all over, what lessons can brands take from both the games and the players? Below are five tips to ponder as we prepare for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

1. Branding starts from the inside out

The art of winning is implicit in how effective the team come together and play as a unit. As demonstrated by England’s young squad, you need energy, skill and strategy to make it all work. This is no different from how brands need to operate in today’s competitive marketplace. It starts, not with the external brand messages or creative brand assets, but from inside the organisation. The recruitment of the right ‘team players’, the strategic planning from a strong leader, the ability to manoeuvre quickly in an ever-changing environment, the disruptive thinking and conjuring of creative solutions; these are the key assets needed to survive and win. When the team works together on their different areas; new business, product development, R&D, marketing, finance and legal – protecting and defending the brand position, everything works seamlessly. Coming together as a vibrant force driven by the brand vision, mission, essence and, ultimately, the execution to market. Like a winning football team, when everyone in the organisation is playing their position correctly, the company wins and the brand triumphs.

2. Reposition the brand strategically

In 2006, Rio Ferdinand was part of the England World Cup team and was preparing for the 2006 championships and, while he was a phenomenal player, he was also looking to what the future could hold. Working with his commercial manager, and me at SheBuildsBrands, Rio started to plan his career beyond football. Strategically, over the course of a decade, he began diversifying his portfolio; football player, real estate owner, football camps and now football presenter. Similarly, organisations need to be strategically planning years ahead. This includes adapting to market needs and creating product categories that meet consumer demands and market trends. Constantly having a future-proofing approach to the brand is imperative for long-term brand success. In 2006, Rio produced ‘Rio’s World Cup Windups’ which was aired on ITV just before the 2006 England v Paraguay World Cup game. In the 2018 World Cup, he was one of the main TV presenters and commentators on the BBC. Like all good brands, these steps were intentional and deliberate, rigorous and highly strategic. Reposting your brand for success requires planning and nothing should be left to chance.

3. Put mobile and co-creation first

According to a study by Oath, one in four people watched the World Cup on their smartphones as part of a multi-screen experience. Additionally, 33% wanted on-demand replays, 18% were keen on 360° virtual reality stadium tours and 15% wanted to see tabletop AR football. As a result, mobile is not only the big advertising tool for brands, it’s also the big information tool for brands to use. Thus, brands need to put mobile as a focal point of their integrated brand marketing campaigns to not only disseminate content and brand information but to engage consumers and co-create content for future campaigns. Ideas from the World Cup that brands could use include Whatsapp groups for information sharing, competitions for co-creation and ideas generation, strategic partnerships to widen audience reach and virtual characters to bring the brand alive and build the brand community. By recognising the power of mobile, brands will go from being a passive experience to a shared and personal experience with endless opportunities and clear, measured ROIs.

4. Capture the moment

The World Cup was a great chance for brands to capitalise on the event, but it was a brief moment. The study by Oath revealed that more than a quarter of UK England fans stopped watching the World Cup after England was knocked out. With such a short period of time to capture audience attention, pre, during and post strategies should be put in place with clear ROIs for each phase. Understanding the needs and lifestyle habits of your consumer groups will enable you to create a yearly brand marketing calendar with all major events relevant to your consumers (not just your sector). As such, brands should plan way in advance and snatch that window of opportunity with trend alerts to capture any moments that might project the brand to new heights. As an example, retailer M&S capitalised on the sales of their waistcoats when media coverage started to focus on Gareth Southgate wearing waistcoats at every match; the result was an increase of waistcoat sales for the brand by 35%. Southgate tube station took advantage of having the same name as the England manager by re-naming the station Gareth Southgate for 48 hours. Great marketing and branding lessons that saw the station make the nationals for the right reasons.

5. Engage the newest emerging market… females

According to a poll by the Independent, more than 50% of women watched the World Cup, and one in five said they were more excited about the World Cup than their partners. What’s more, one in ten faced pleas from their partners, asking them to change the channel. The statistics show that brands need to stop ignoring the power of the female consumer. In truth, women are responsible for 85% of all consumer purchases – broken down as 96% of new car buying decisions are made by women, 91% of new homes, 66% of PC purchases, 92% of vacation decisions, 80% of healthcare decisions, 65% of new cars bought, 89% of bank accounts opened, and 93% of food purchases (World Economic Forum).

If brands have products that are deemed traditionally male, they need to re-think and identify ways they can connect with the ever-changing and diverse female market who are more multifaceted, more versatile and have more spending power than ever before. Women control more than $20 trillion of worldwide spending, and they are the biggest emerging market – brands cannot and should not ignore this.

Have an opinion on this article? Please join in the discussion: the GMA is a community of data driven marketers and YOUR opinion counts.

Kubi Springer
Author: Kubi Springer
Founder at Shebuildsbrands |

An award-winning internationally recognised brand specialist and speaker, author and media personality, Kubi Springer has been working with companies and high profile individuals since 1996, to create, build and grow their brands for commercial success. Her portfolio includes Nike, L'Oreal, MTV, Blackberry, Diddy, Rio Ferdinand, MOBO Awards, Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce Motor Cars, London and New York Fashion Weeks.

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