Any sport organisation getting into a branding or re-branding exercise has to first think very carefully about what the focus of the exercise should be to have the best impact. What should the brand be known for? What brand attributes will reach the largest possible audience?

The attributes basically need to be derived from the organisation itself, the sport that the organisation governs and the organisation’s “products”, meaning its championships, its national teams, its leagues or its clubs. The new sports organisation is one that considers all of these components and fully integrates them into a dynamic platform upon which it builds its brand.

The key then is not to choose one of the three components and focus solely on that, but to consider all three of them when developing the brand’s attributes. Then, over the course of time, the organisation’s communication can put a special focus on one or the other depending on changes in the social and economic environment.

An excellent example of this integrated approach is the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States. The NBA has made the choice not to create its brand based on this organisational aspect, but on its sport (Basketball) and its product (the league). Many young fans around the world, when asked what the NBA is, will reply that it is ‘Basketball’, and many others will say that it is a ‘Basketball league’. In other words, the NBA is a fully-integrated brand that has made it one of its strengths to dilute the boundaries between its three components: organisation, sport and products – all under the brand of NBA.

Find out more about branding your sports organisation in BCW’s latest edition of “The New Sports Organisation: Eight Essentials for Renewing the Management of Sport”.

 We are the sports practice of global advisory firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe. We provide strategy and communication advice for sports clients around the world. For more information: