Understanding the fan – or why brand authenticity and trust matter

23 May 2018 / By ONE8Y

Relevance of brand management


As human beings, especially as sports fans, we are a social species and our ability to survive mainly depends on the ability to form communities and culture. But what is a (fan) community or a culture? It is a group of people who share the same values and beliefs. What is a sports club or a company? Both should also be a group of people with a common set of values and beliefs. And if a group is surrounded by a group who believes what they believe, trust emerges. We need this trust – because this trust is one of the most relevant business driver in the digital and growing anonymous world. If we trust, we are more willing to take more risks, we are more willing to experiment (which includes failure), and we’re more willing to explore new ways (just think about new ways of payment, acceptance for new sponsors, etc.). That’s because we have the confidence which is build on trust. That’s exactly what sponsors or clubs have to do. Clubs have to establish trust, by proving their deep understanding of the fan’s interests, not only at the stadium but also at home and outside of it, his concerns, core values and beliefs. If this happens, clubs and sponsors have the ability to create a long-lasting and intense bonding with their fan community.

As an organization (sports club, sponsor, etc) you have to look at every single piece of your communication – because this is the way of saying who we are. For that reason, authenticity matters a lot – especially in a highly emotional context. In order to build trust, you have to do and say what you really believe in. Your actions are symbols that will be recognized and absorbed by the community. Don’t try to hide who you are – organizations like clubs should do and say what they truly believe and they will attract fans who believe what they believe.

This whole process is a question of brand identity, with a strong purpose at the heart of everything. But how to create a trustful brand identity? A combination of an implicit and explicit research is a strong springboard to start that process. Why? You track the fit of values between your own and the external perception of your brand. Based on this precise picture you can start the process of developing your brand – without relying on the opinion of others what they think you should look like. Just how you are – driven by your own values and beliefs. Otherwise, fans will quickly find out some inconsistency in your communicative behavior and identify the false (brand) costume. And trust will be lost.