In an era where most brands or brand managers hardly know what they stand for, it’s quite confusing how they figure out which events to sponsor or participate in. It does seem like more and more brand custodians routinely follow a laid out template without necessarily understanding the reasons for them. The expression of a brand as usually marked by the following; radio, tv, billboard and newspaper adverts, recruitment of brand ambassadors, social media presence, roadshows etc. can be said to be the modus operandi for engaging consumers. What we however often forget is the fact that all of these are just expression outlets and the fundamentals must first of all be ascertained before embarking on brand expression.
Taking a queue from such global brands as Rolex, Nike, Red bull, etc. It is easy to understand how these brands have defined themselves in the minds of the consumer beyond juts adverts but also leveraging such unique areas as brand association and sponsorship. Rolex’s association with exclusive sport tournaments such as Golf and Tennis, Nike’s endorsement for super athletes and Red bull’s continuous promotion of adventure and speed with events such as Formula 1 and skydiving. It is important to note that these are not CSR initiatives for these brands but a well thought-out and strategic plan to create specific emotions in the minds of their target audience. The only way this can be done is when a brand has first of all ascertained its fundamental vectors and built a strategic platform for itself.
Going back memory lane, if you were given a verbal aptitude test, it is easy to relate luxury to golf, speed and energy to car racing, etc. This is the same logic, established brands adopt in expressing their brand essence other than the obvious advertising. It should also be said that similar to public relations, this is also a very easy way for consumers to believe in your brand and interpret your essence in their minds and as influences their lifestyle. There are a couple of local brands who have also managed to consistently take advantage of brand sponsorships to express their essence to their customers. For example, Globacom proves its indigenous inclination through its support for the Nigerian Premier league, Nollywood, etc.
The other side of the coin also provides some guidance to young entrepreneurs or idea connoisseurs on which brands to approach with your ideas for sponsorship. A lot of these young lads / ladies feel any brand should be able to fund or sponsor their ideas irrespective of what the idea is. They feel all they need to do is tweak the colours in the power point proposals to the brand’s colours and simply slap on their logos. It just doesn’t work that way and even if you have been lucky in the past, it isn’t ideal. Above such factors as corporate governance and regulatory compliance, brand sponsorship is a vessel to create an alternative, sub-conscious and deeper relationship with your target audience. It provides an opportunity to stand for something and share your worldview with your customers. If done properly, it can be a very effective tool for building brand affinity, loyalty and ultimately increasing brand equity.
As a brand director or just an ordinary observer, when next you see a brand sponsoring an event or a proposal for sponsorship, ask yourself this simple question, the same way you would think of a spouse you are about to spend the rest of your life with…
Mobolaji Caxton-Martins (Brand and Innovation Management Specialist)
Caton-Martins is a brand management professional with a leading merchant banking and asset management firm in Nigeria and also a facilitator of brand storytelling and innovation at Orange Academy; Africa’s first practical school of brand advertising. He has enjoyed a rapid and aligned career in branding advertising and consulting.
His footprints can be trailed to such brands as etisalat, Unilever Lifebuoy, Samsung Mobile, Skye bank, Moneygram International, Wema Bank, Keystone Bank, Haier Thermocool, Airtel and FBNQuest. He has an undying commitment to sustainable innovation for Africa leveraging the millennial generation and its occupation revolution. He enjoys listening to afrobeat music, playing table-tennis and wine tasting.
He is open to connecting with anyone who isn’t enslaved by routine or conventions and has an independence of mind towards life.