Creating a Sports Brand for the Digital Age


Do you know the components of a successful sport brand, focusing on those that have equity in major sporting events and sponsorship?

deltatre wanted to find out, and has been spending some time and taking insight from industry leaders at the biggest sport industry events, attending The Brand Conference, Leaders Sport Summit and Sportel to understand exactly what makes a modern brand successful in the fast evolving digital landscape. 

Here are deltatre’s takeaways when it comes to understanding sports entities and brands that ‘borrow’ their equity through various partnership deals.

Three following areas are crucial: brand story, due consideration of format for your event and the brave new world of digital.

Brand Story

Every successful brand has to have a credible story to tell. In order to resonate with the target audience this story has to be authentic, genuine and appeal to a universal human truth.

There are plenty of inspiring examples out there; for the sake of argument we picked up a story from the Patagonia apparel brand.

They have been consistently expressing their care for mother nature. Their brand philosophy is ‘leave no trace’ and it is reflected in everything Patagonia does.


The copy above explains how the environmental cost of making this jacket was higher than its price, with the end message being ‘Don’t buy what you don’t need. Think twice before you buy anything’.

Patagonia has found its niche by appealing to the people who like outdoor adventures and care about the environment.


Knowing what format of the sports event is right for your brand is key. Is it traditional and well established or is it new, innovative and forward-looking?

For instance, we all know Wimbledon as an iconic tennis event and a desirable sponsorship property.

But the reasons that make it unique need to be in alignment with the reasons that make your brand special. Do you have a long and rich history to lean against or do you need to shake things up a little to stand out?

Do you remember the game Andre Agassi and Roger Federer played on a helipad of Burj Al Arab at 211 meters above the ground?


It was staged in the United Arab Emirates, the country that wants to be associated with innovation to promote its most prestigious tennis tournament – Dubai Open.

A daring approach to the event format you choose to associate your brand with, can bear some very substantial fruit and even go down in the history of sports marketing.


Nowadays you can put tracking chips on players, use pressure sensors hidden underneath the pitch and create new and exciting visualizations of any game.

You can also reach out to a much bigger audience than fits in a stadium and connect the sport fans from across the globe. The possibilities that digital technologies provide to sport are rich and continue to emerge.

UEFA is a good example and the competitions that it runs illustrate a transition of global sport properties in to the digital age.

deltatre first built in 1998, while 2010 saw the emergence of the social media channels. Together with our client we have championed a move from local audiences to global audiences and from talking at people to talking with them.

Let’s take an example of the latest UEFA Champions League Final, which took place at the Olimpiastadion in Berlin to show how the real space where your event happens compares to the virtual space where your event also exists.

• The stadium capacity – 74.5 thousand people

• The estimated TV audience was 400 million viewers in 200 countries (source:

• A number of media impressions across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogs and forums was 4.7 billion media impressions (source: UberVu via Hootsuite)

How did we get this massive reach? By posting relevant information at relevant times. By launching one unifying Hashtag – #UCLfinal that connected fractured people’s conversations on social media.

By sharing interesting facts about the competition and players in a visually compelling form that made fans want to pass it on to their friends. As we all know, we have started to talk with pictures to each other rather than with just text.


When deltatre launched the Champions League’s social media channels we decided to differentiate them from the newswires, and from, by emphasising the personal stories that everyone can relate to.

Let me share with you a success story based on an initiative that although had nothing to do with the current game or results, was tapping into something that unites football stars and fans: birthdays.

We asked @ChampionsLeague followers to name their best five-a-side team, born on their birthday. We provided the example of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Cesare Maldini, Gheorghe Hagi and Carlos Tévez all celebrating birthdays on February 5, and challenged fans across platforms to find a better team.

A dedicated post received more than half a million likes and close to 29,000 comments and shares.

Just to sum up: in order to be popular and relevant today, sport brands and entities must have credible stories to tell. Companies looking to associate themselves with events need to find a strong correlation between their own brand features and the brand features of the event.

And last but not least, all brands should find their foot in the digital space to expand their reach. Digital storytelling is one of the powerful tools that brands can use to their advantage to grow audiences and keep them engaged.

This article was published by Yana Lapitskaya at deltatre and you can read the original article in full here.

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