Competitively Positioning a National Sports Brand for Geographic and Media Expansion

Challenge

During a time of rapid geographic expansion and increasing media coverage, this leading automotive racing sports organization sought to sharpen its focus and instill a branding strategy that would ensure its continued success. The organization needed to deepen its understanding of both its fan base and the power of its brand, and it sought to determine how to best translate that understanding into tangible market advantage. This included a new brand marketing strategy that would both establish brand power, and drive the initiatives necessary to develop, leverage, and protect the brand.

Solution

The project included extensive qualitative and quantitative consumer research to uncover consumer perceptions of the master brand and franchise. Our team also interviewed numerous and diverse stakeholders (including members of organization’s executive management team, track owners and management, drivers, the media, team owners, sponsors and licensees), and we worked closely with key stakeholders to build consensus regarding the new competitive brand positioning and brand marketing strategy. We developed a robust fan segmentation scheme that identified the key distinguishing attributes, psychological attitudes and spending habits of the fan base – and revealed the immense power of the brand and brand experience among a broad and extremely loyal fan base. Based on this work, we established a new brand positioning centered on a unique and compelling (in fact, unparalleled) combination of “thrilling competition, down-to-earth values, and sense of belonging.”  Our team developed a series of strategic initiatives aimed at all key stakeholders and influencers of the brand to ensure that the sport effectively fulfills the brand promise. Included in these initiatives were a robust brand marketing strategy, a new brand architecture, and a “Brand Case” that demonstrated the power of the brand to all important stakeholders – with particular emphasis on existing and potential sponsors, licensees and media relationships.

Impact

By leveraging the new brand and strategic framework, the organization successfully expanded its sponsorship base, and increased its licensing and merchandising revenues. It also created several new racing series, both in the U.S. and internationally, with races now broadcast in more than 150 countries. As a result of the demonstrated brand loyalty of its fan base, more Fortune 500 companies now participate in the organization’s activities than any other sport.