THE GAA has become one of the most visible brands nationwide, enabling the Association to grow from strength to strength in recent times with high profile campaigns, such as the recent ‘Where We All Belong’ initiative.
The marketing and branding of your club have a similar aim to the activities of any business – both have competitors, but rather than a club competing for sales, it is competing for players, volunteers and sponsors.
That is why branding is a key consideration for any Committee, irrespective of which division of the county league your club plays in. In the midst of all the other sporting clubs within the local community, it is important to make your club stand out.
Branding is quite simply about establishing an image of how you would like to be seen and thought of by others around you.
It is not just about one single thing or just about what happens on the pitch. It is what people think of and feel about your club and every message coming out from the club should enhance this in a positive way.
When looking to build a strong brand for your club, it is important to realise that the job goes beyond merely just creating nice images and club leisure gear. At the core of its brand, a club should set out and promote its values & policies that define what the club stands for and represents e.g. Respect, Inclusiveness, Community Identity and safe enjoyment of Gaelic games by all.
Your coaches, players and members should all embody your brand. Additionally, the tone of voice that your club uses in all its communications (both online and offline) is important and this should be in a consistent manner that gives the club a personality people are pleased to engage with.
The basic tool for marketing your club is your visual identity, and your club crest is the focal point of that.
A lot of clubs in Ulster have worked to modernise their crests in recent years to ensure that the design is strong, easily recognisable and, where possible, telling something about the club story.
You will need a digital copy of your badge so that it can be used on various platforms (online, emails letterheads, etc.) so you may need the help of a local graphic designer. Your crest should be included on everything you create and you should also consistently use the club’s main colours.
This creates brand consistency and demonstrates a professional approach.
Your club kit and merchandise range are obviously the main way that your brand is represented to the wider community so design and quality are top priorities to ensure members are proud to wear the gear and show their association with the club.
Effective branding is about maintaining consistency across all of your communication channels as this will make your club appear more credible and organised, which is attractive to potential sponsors.
These channels include the club website, social media channels (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram), match programmes, posters, banners or even club merchandise.
Technology has made it much easier and affordable for even small clubs to brand themselves in a professional way.
There is a huge selection of social media platforms available to showcase a club online, but they should all aim to drive users through to the club website and position it as the centre of club information.
A club’s website can be the online shop window for potential new volunteers and sponsors but also a resource for existing members. It should therefore be well maintained, updated (fixtures, news, events, match reports etc.) and make consistent use of club crest, colours and font styles.
Branding of your club is a long-term investment that will prove to be successful, if carried out correctly. Of course, a key consideration is to plan to revisit and evolve their branding to keep it fresh and reflective of your club as it develops.
Over time, as people become more familiar with your brand and start to recognise it, doors may start to open more easily for your club.