If you’re not measuring what you’re selling, you don’t know Jack

Jack Birch solves problems. As sponsorship sales consultant to the pros, Jack coaches salespeople to keep the compass in mind. True north is to help brands  “teach your difference.”  You tell their story. What’s different. What’s better. Central to telling a brand story is sharing the “big idea” behind the brand with fans.

A brand is an idea. It’s not a product. It’s not a thing. Or a service. It’s a concept. It’s what the brand wants to represent in the minds of its customers. A brand is a premise with a promise. Brand partners want you to share this big idea so your fans become their fans. They want you to share brand meaning.

Shared meaning is the first M to measure, followed by Money, Medium and Momentum.


Properties sell the means to bring meaning to life.The big idea gets bigger when you share it with your fans.

Take a law firm. Please.

No one takes time to learn about lawyers until they need one. That changes when a law firm partners with a pro team. Passionate fans of the San Antonio Spurs know the Davis Law Firm “fights for your future” and overwhelmingly know their phone number is (210) 444-4444. New Orleans Saints fans know Dudley DeBosier is the official team partner that provides free Uber rides after the game, illustrating the personal attention fans get with the firm. And, yes, fans know their number is (504) 4Tres Amigos44-4444. Just goes to show when people need an injury lawyer, best not have them recall too many numbers.

Do you know the meanings of the brands you manage? The ones you’re pitching? If you don’t, you don’t know Jack. But, if you do know Jack (that’s him, far right), then you know the meaning of life. Well, at least you know to find the one or two words the brand wants to own in the minds of fans. The next question is: Are you measuring it?


Stay with us here. The two things all brands want to do are:

  1. Sell stuff.
  2. Grow profits.

Properties pitch and promise ways to help brands sell more stuff and grow profits. Properties promise to add more bank accounts, airline app users, weekly grocery shoppers, or daily coffee drinkers. We are in the business of helping properties include valid measures to prove they deliver on such promises.


Teams offer the medium of communication to reach fans. Teams don’t sell the rights to marks/logo, LED, scoreboard signage, naming rights, broadcast ads, website banners, social media, game promotions, and jersey patches. It’s not a media buy. Brands can get lower CPM elsewhere. Brands partner with the property to get access to effective media. Brands want to improve communications and inspire the community. Brands want to know if fan passion transfers to the brand.

Selling snake oilIf properties sell sponsorships because it works better than traditional media, it would be a good idea (it’s really our big idea) to measure just how effective the sponsorship medium is. In fact, it’s our moral obligation to measure what we sell. Otherwise, what are we doing? (→)

We help properties measure the effectiveness of each medium used by the sponsor to share meaning and make money. The sponsor sees the relationship between the price they paid and what they get. That’s the definition of value.1


The brand’s meaning differentiates it from competitors. The lift in brand equity from sponsorships assures the brand’s future. Our measures of differentiation and brand strength are shown to drive stock market price and allows the brand to charge more.2

Each brand then, one hopes, is different. Each has specific goals to benchmark and measure over the course of the contract and year-over-year. Toyota is the official partner of the Vegas Golden Knights. Partnership recall is great (51%) compared to average (~40%) and for the auto category (42%). Even better is knowing these fans are more than twice as likely to have test driven a Toyota in the past 12 months3 and twice as likely to have test driven a Toyota over a Honda. Better still, the number of fans who own a Toyota is up 78% among those who recall Toyota as the team partner.

When we measure results over the course of the contract we demonstrate the momentum will continue when the brand renews the partnership.


Membership has its privileges. Maybe it’s the fifth M. Join the 20 other pro teams that measure what they sell.



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.