A clear identity. Differentiating from competition. Growing customer loyalty. Why every sports start-up needs to take branding seriously.

Branding for start-ups isn’t something that should be overlooked. When starting a business, a plethora of brilliant ideas are often thrown about. Creativity isn’t usually an issue, but what can be an issue is bringing clarity and direction to these thoughts. For new enterprises, this is crucial.

The sports sector is an ever-growing industry. Whether your venture lies in media, consultancy, agency or technology, sports businesses can span several fields. As such, trying to do a few too many different things is a trap that several sports start-ups can fall into. Good branding for start-ups will make sure that a distinctive brand identity is established. But why is this important?

JAX Branding helps Start-ups in football industry.

Recent research from Fundera and CBInsights via Embroker suggests that several of the factors in start-up failures can be linked to weak branding in various ways.

  •   The number one reason why start-ups fail is due to misreading market demand. this is found in 42% of cases.
  •  Other notable cases of failure are a weak founding team (23%) and being beaten by competition (19%).
  • Paying attention to your customers is important since 14% of start-ups fail due to not having regard to customers’ needs.
  •  Other major reasons for start-up failures (at least 10% or above) are due to pricing/cost issues, user-unfriendly products, poor marketing, and product mistiming.

Customer facing issues such as misreading demand and disregarding customer needs are problems that good branding for start-ups can, consciously and subconsciously, eradicate. That’s not to say that better branding will create perfect businesses. But it will go a long way in reaching this.

For sports start-ups specifically, and even for sportspeople going into business (who generally will be classified as first-time entrepreneurs), having a clear brand identity plays on the subconscious side of consumers’ decisions. This means that, often, people aren’t driven by price or product, but rather the image attached to that product. In turn, growth is propelled forward.

Branding for start-ups pieces ideas together. It creates a marketable organisation from a single product or outlook.

Failory note that:

‘That’s why the rational reasons why you think customers would decide to purchase your product over [a] competitor’s one (such as pricing, features, convenience, etc), will work only in 5% of the cases. On the other 95%, the customers will be driven by other factors that are mainly created by your branding and how the customers feel about your company’.

So, it’s quite clear that the ‘feel’ around your company is important. This ‘feel’ doesn’t just come into play when somebody is deciding whether to buy from you, however. It also relates to your brand’s reputation amongst other brands. Likewise, it aids your image in the media. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s key when customers are deciding whether to buy from you again.

But how do branding agencies like JAX Branding help visualise your brand identity?

Firstly, we define who you are, what you do, and what benefits you bring to your industry by doing this. We then move onto defining objectives (what your business wants to achieve) before looking at the more holistic, human side of business. Brand attributes are established, in practice being the words and emotions that your business wants to portray and before defining the type of person you want to appeal to.

From here, we can begin to visualise these things in logos, website design, and other aspects of print branding (such as business cards, storefront design and more).

The difficult thing is ensuring that your branding is different from your competitors’. How can we achieve this?

For sports start-ups especially, the market is particularly crowded in whatever branch you choose to venture into. Differentiation is vital.

Some people like talking about themselves, and others don’t. But when branding for start-ups, it’s vitally important to set businesses apart by helping them champion the only truly unique part of them – the values and identity of the people that make them up. In other words, good branding helps the human characteristics of a business shine through.

These are the attributes that create a subconscious bond with the customer. When successfully portrayed, they create a more intrinsic link between business and consumer, playing on certain ideas that the buyer subconsciously wants to be linked with. Luxury brands such as Rolls Royce are excellent examples of this theory. People are not only buying a very well made and capable piece of technology, but also one that connotes wealth, class and grandeur.

Oliver is a good example when branding for start-ups.
Credit: Oliver

In many ways, good branding for start-ups automatically levels a business up by placing a story – quite literally, a brand story – behind a product or service. The purchase then becomes more of a personal investment. However, branding, like anything worthwhile, takes commitment and care.

At JAX Branding, we always aim to create brands that can have longevity. Brands that stand the test of time and carry customer loyalty in the clear values they present. For retiring athletes, this is essential in creating a legacy away from the pitch. It allows you to portray you, the person, through your business, rather than you, the athlete.

Or, in the best cases, combining the best qualities of both to create powerful, beautiful, beloved brands.

Want to kick off your business career? Chat with Jack about your vision, and get the ball rolling.

Written/Edited by: Sam Hudspith - JAX Branding Copywriter, Media Accredited - Premier League and EFL, Editor of The Goalkeeping Blog

Published by: Jack Bies - Ex-Footballer, Founder of JAX Branding

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JAX Branding - Creative Studio Manchester - Brand Strategy + Design for Football Industry