10 Branding Lessons from Three 2013 Untraditional Brands

When we think of brands, we tend to think of consumer products, such as, Tide detergent, Nike sportswear, Apple electronics, Starbucks drinks, or BMW automobiles. But as 2013 dawns, three events draw everyone’s attention, and as a result, these events have become international brands. Even though these three events aren’t brands in the traditional sense, there is no doubt that they can teach all businesses a thing or two about branding.

photo: Craig Pearce
So, without further ado, here are 10 branding lessons from the Rose Parade, the Presidential Inauguration, and the Super Bowl:

[1] FANS: All three events have dedicated fans. The price of Super Bowl tickets demonstrates the level of interest. The number of attendees at the 2008 Presidential Inauguration was a testament to the interest level in the American political system. And the number of people who line Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena is proof that flowers and floats are worth rising early on a cold winter morning (cold in Southern California terms). Once a fan base is built, it is critical to engage and also listen to it in order to sustain the fan base.

[2] THEME/VISION/MESSAGE: The Rose Parade has a theme each year. The Presidential Inauguration has a theme – and the President shares his vision for his term during his Inaugural Address. As for the Super Bowl, promotion for the football stadium’s city is often the theme.

[3] UNIFIED TEAM: Each of these brands is the embodiment of a unified team. The President represents his entire Administration on the day of his Inauguration, and this day in late January every four years is the one day that Congress seems to put aside partisan issues for the good of the country. The Rose Parade is a combination of amazing floats, marching bands, and horse groups – but all members work as a team to stay in formation and keep up with the schedule. As far as the Super Bowl goes, the most united team is often the team that wins.

[4] ENTERTAINMENT: Each of these events builds excitement and buzz. Starting from the previous year (or in the case of the Presidential Inauguration, starting with the November election), fans eagerly await the events. Many forms of media promote the event, and auxiliary techniques are also employed. For example, sponsors of the Super Bowl may show teasers for their game day ads in advance, and sponsors of the Rose Parade may show their support through social media campaigns. But when it comes to the marriage of entertainment and advertising, there is no dispute: everyone looks forward to the Super Bowl ads.

[5] CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: By putting yourself in your user’s shoes, you can delete brand inconsistencies and create a memorable customer experience. When the planners strategize these momentous events, they ask many questions. For example, how will the customer or guest or attendee react to X, Y, or Z? Answers allow the planners to make improvements on the overall event. For example, will each attendee of the Super Bowl be able to see the Half-Time Show? If the answer is no, then the choreography may need to be changed. (Note: When thinking about the overall customer experience, another excellent example is the Apple Store.)

[6] USE OF MULTI-CHANNELS: Today’s world is a multiscreen world. TV and the Internet are becoming more and more linked. People can start watching a television show or movie on one media and finish it on another. Today’s viewing audience can choose tablets or smartphones. Since the Rose Parade, Presidential Inauguration, and Super Bowl can be viewed on any device, the audience is unlimited.

[7] EASE OF MOBILE USE: At these branded events, attendees can easily use mobile phones, aka, smartphones, to take photos and videos to personalize their experience. The websites for these events have been modified so that they are viewable on mobile devices, and this modification increases the size of the viewing audience and provides a user-friendly experience. Social media has opened up a whole new world, and as a result, people can upload their photos, videos, or comments to a myriad of social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, etc. And more importantly, people can upload in real time.

[8] CORPORATE SPONSORS: While partnerships are common in the marketing world, event sponsorships offer a way to create memorable co-branding. When a company sponsors the Super Bowl or Rose Parade, its name becomes associated with the event. Here are some of the 2013 Rose Parade sponsors: Wells Fargo, Avis, Coca-Cola, Honda, and the Los Angeles Times. These brands have added a bit of history and panache to their brands as a result of their involvement with the Rose Parade.

[9] PLANNING: It seems that the morning after the Rose Parade (or a few months afterward), the next year’s theme is announced. Often, the Grand Marshall is announced later. For the Super Bowl, the venues are reserved and announced several years ahead of time. As for the Presidential Inauguration, every aspect of the event is planned to the very last minute. Without a doubt, planning is a key to success for these brands.

[10] REINVENTION: Each occurrence of the three events is different. The Rose Parade has a different theme and different Grand Marshall each year, the theme for each Presidential Inauguration is unique every four years, and the Super Bowl features different teams (sometimes, a team repeats its appearance). Therefore, each event reinvents itself while simultaneously appealing to its audience.

Which of these lessons can you apply to your business, and if you do, what is the intended outcome? Please leave a comment below!

Debbie Laskey
Debbie Laskey has 17 years of marketing experience and an MBA Degree. She developed her marketing expertise while working in the high-tech industry, the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France, the non-profit arena, and the insurance industry. Her expertise includes brand marketing, social media, employee engagement, leadership development, and customer experience marketing. Currently, Debbie is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Exceptional Children's Foundation in Los Angeles. Since 2002, Debbie has served as a judge for the Web Marketing Association’s annual web award competition and has also been recognized as one of the "Top 100 Branding Experts" to follow on Twitter.
Debbie Laskey
Debbie Laskey

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