Clear Defendable Territory
Unleashing the Power of Your Brand Promise: Lessons from Sports Brands

With the King's first Royal Ascot behind us, the Lord's Ashes Test underway, and Wimbledon  just around the corner - the summer sporting season is in full swing. These are just a few of the sporting brands we work with at The Clearing.

Over the past 13 years, we've worked extensively within elite sports. And it's these experiences that led us to observe a defining characteristic amongst sports brands that every brand owner can use to gain an edge for their brand.

In short, elite sports brands understand the power of the brand promise to build conviction with folk inside their organisation, so they can make a valuable connection with those on the outside. This post explores the invaluable lessons every brand owner can learn from elite sports to optimise brand positioning and supercharge brand strategy.

A compelling brand narrative is at the heart of every brand's Clear Defendable Territory. And while it's essential to tell a complete and compelling story for those tasked with delivering the brand, internally and amongst agency partners, it's unrealistic to expect these individuals to recall the entire brand positioning.

The Role of Brand Promise

That's why the brand promise is so essential. It's the one thing you want everyone charged with delivering the brand to remember and act upon every day and in every way. And this is where Sports brands excel.

From McLaren's 'Fearlessly Forward' and MCC and Lord's 'Pushing Boundaries' to Wimbledon's 'In Pursuit of Greatness' – sporting brands understand the power of brand promises to align the organisation behind a single thought - focused on winning.

Four Characteristics of a Powerful Brand Promise

Let's delve into the four key characteristics that make these promises so powerful:

1 Relevant and Believable:

A brand promise must be built on truth and grounded in the category. It should connect with the broader brand narrative and future strategy while being easily understood and motivating for all audiences – internally as well as externally.

2 Enduring:

Brand promises are not short-term tactical manoeuvres. They are aspirational and designed for the long term. They serve as a compelling vision for the future, informing your point of view on the world - demanding excellence in delivery without ever fully reaching this defining but otherwise unobtainable goal.

3 Inspires Conviction:

Internally, a brand promise should foster conviction and pride in the brand, creating buy-in to the future strategy. It must guide on-brand behaviour and inspire employees to deliver the brand consistently across every tangible and intangible brand manifestation.

4 Creates Valuable Connections:

Externally, a brand promise must connect with the unique and special qualities of the brand, motivating action in some shape or form. It should provide reasons for audiences to support, attend, and buy into the brand – emotionally and financially.

Learning from Ascot

One brand that exemplifies the power of a well-crafted brand promise is Ascot. We worked closely with Ascot to define their brand positioning and visual and verbal identity. Centred around the promise – 'Raise the standard' - this promise captures Ascot's distinctive position as the UK's royal racecourse and serves as a directive for the entire organisation. It instils a sense of duty and leadership among staff, preserving tradition while creating exciting race-day experiences for racegoers today and in the future.

Building Brands from the Inside Out

Brand owners often overlook the importance of building brands from the inside out. It makes sense that without colleagues' support and buy-in, it becomes impossible to deliver the brand externally. Successful sporting institutions understand that brands start and finish with people. This realisation is why the brand promises featured within the world of sports are among the best in the world and where all brand owners can learn.