The social, commercial & sporting value of event strategy & branding

Posted by - Whitestone International

Creating the ultimate sports event inspires, entertains and delivers big commercial rewards, the results of which are captured by full stadia, sporting spectacles and celebrations. After all, sporting events are about the experience and social value that inspire and engage people – in person, on TV, or via social and other media. However, whilst the quality of that experience is the result of a long process and numerous coordinated activities, two factors that play a critical role from an event’s inception to its delivery are the strategy behind the event and the way the event and its vision are brought to life through branding”.

Central management principle

Strategy is recognised as key to winning hosting bids and communicating an event’s objectives. London’s Olympic bid was boosted by its strategic vision for ‘legacy’ and an opportunity to re-engage youth in sport. The way in which the strategy was extended to and intertwined with every element of the event’s development and execution was one of the main factors in its overall success. So too has it been the case for the four FIFA World Cups and numerous national and international iconic sporting events we have been involved with.

From ex ante forecasting, bidding and logistics, through to operations, sponsorship, broadcast and the event itself, one thing is certain – staging a sports event involves multiple stakeholders. The ability of a good strategy to organise the internal world, align everyone behind the event’s narrative, deliver efficiencies and attract commercial partners through positive association, should not be underestimated. Once aligned, it is the resulting ‘brand’ that both the fans and partners buy into and that sets the price they are willing to pay for the experience.

Commercial value and returns

Branding is of course necessary to badge and dress an event, but its role is often considered limited to this. The way in which branding is used to market an event and set the stage directly impacts the level and quality of the experience. However, a long time before the stage is set, branding assets form the tangible IP rights and commercial inventory. Their quality matters – they’re what sponsors want to be associated with; what licensees want to sell; what promoters use to market and engage; and what set the atmospheric tone for fans and athletes alike. The branding therefore must not be considered just stage dressing, it must be constructed and organised to deliver maximum commercial potential.

The sporting, commercial and social impact that both strategy and branding have on an event can be measured from the outset when they are recognised as orchestrating the internal and commercial worlds that build the events in the first place. These principles apply to all sports events, large or small, and if aligned and executed to the highest quality, the ultimate experiential and commercial promise will be delivered to partners, stakeholders, teams, athletes and fans.