Brand amplification: The true power of the team’s logo & use of marks

Brand amplification is an industry buzzword for good reason. Organizations partner with properties to leverage the power and the passion fans bestow on the team. Met Life borrows brand equity from properties (Giants and Jets) to bring life and relevance to a brand in a category that fans might overlook. Dunkin’ Donuts leverages passion for the Colts to engage fans to process and act upon their brand messages.

Caring about the brand amplification or the power of the team’s logos & marks is all fine and good. But, it offers an incomplete picture. It oversimplifies the power of the entire package the brand gets in the bargain. Brands should use the marks of the team to clearly link the brand with the team in the minds of fans. But the question isn’t, “How much does the power of the team’s brand amp up the partner’s brand?” This misses the point on two levels:

  1. Assets don’t act in isolation. No one pays for the use of marks without the rest of the tool kit to build an integrated campaign.
  2. Brand amplification does not happen without partnership recall. Unless their fans link Lucas Oil (or Dunkin’ Donuts) with the Colts, Ford with the Lions, Mercedes-Benz with the Saints, or Reliant/NRG with the Texans, there is no amplification.

So, the right question is, “What tool is most effective to link the team’s brand with ours in the minds of fans to improve recall?” Like unto it, “Is the use of marks the most powerful?”

Anchor partners with rights to use the logo and marks of the team typically have the rights to communicate brand messages via the scoreboard & digital signage, fixed signage, gameday promotions & activation, broadcasts (TV/radio), social media, and the team website. The effectiveness of these assets are what separates the Jets from the Giants, Knicks from the Nets, Bears from the Cubs, or any other team from another in the market. What does the data tell us is the most effective?

Getting the Whole Picture

We can analyze the relative effect of the use of marks compared to the other assets–because we measure the effectiveness of all of these assets, across many brands across many teams over time among real people.1 Members in our research community can access average recall by category and assets across all partners. Now let’s answer our questions.

Is the use of marks the most powerful tool to improve partner recall?

The chart below shows the results of a regression equation using data from seven NFL teams, across 117 brand partners, with 103,704 fan responses. Baseline partner recall rate is 24%. In other words, what are the odds fans will guess a brand is the partner knowing nothing else? About one in four.2

Now, what is the biggest influence on increasing recall? Use of the team’s marks bumps recall 17%, followed very closely by gameday promotion & activation (16.7%). On average, if fans recognize the use of marks and gameday activities carried out by the brand, recall should be about 58% (24%+17%+17%). If fans recognized the rest of the assets–along with a highly passionate fan base 3–then recall approaches 100%. Of course, not every fan recalls every asset4 and not every fan is highly passionate. As shown elsewhere, average recall across all teams and brands is 40%. Read more here on how to improve it.

How does partner recall amplify the power of the team’s brand?

An important KPI of any partnership is brand differentiation, making the brand stand out from competitors. We ran another equation to show the effects of partner recall and assets on the partner’s differentiation (score range: 0-100). The baseline score is about 35. If fans recall the partnership between the brand & the team, differentiation jumps almost 20 points, which is five times the effect of any individual asset alone. You can add 2-4 points for each of the other eight asset categories recognized by fans. Click chart (right) to view. We get similar results, with different effects (weights) of each asset, on other KPIs such as brand relevance, trust, preference, usage and purchase.

The point is that without partner recall, little else matters. The best tool in the toolbox is the use of marks to increase recall. Each of the other tools play an important role to enhance recall of the right partner in a sea of competitors. Brands and teams need to know how effectively each and every asset performs to reach shared goals throughout the run of the contract, not at a single point in time for a brand not their own. That’s why members of this community transparently share scientifically and statistically sound results to make better business decisions.

What should brands do?

To flip the script, if brands want to increase recall and amplification, the #1 requirement is co-branding with use of the team’s marks. The biggest failures we see are brands paying for rights and dropping the ball by not using the marks. Most often these are national brands not integrating local or regional deals into their national campaigns. These national brands, and local brands with rights, need to capitalize on opportunities to display the team logo on websites, point-of-purchase, packaging or other avenues to fully activate the partnership and cement the brand-team linkage in the minds of fans.