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Behind the Branding of the Biggest Sports Organization

Many people are familiar with one of the biggest sports organizations in the world, the National Football League. It’s that time of year when fans pull out their collection of NFL jerseys and start to wear them everywhere. What is it that attracts people to wear a specific jersey or t-shirt to represent their NFL team? Some may say it’s their lucky jersey or feel like they are part of the team when wearing their favorite player’s number, but the secret behind it all is a good brand.

Looking at the broad definition of branding can be overwhelming. In short, branding can be defined as “the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” It is critical for a company, or football team in this instance, to be aware of and to cultivate their brand experience. This is what tells the customer what to expect from the company’s products or services. In fact, a strong brand can positively affect business by helping improve recognition, create trust and generate new customers.

For NFL teams brand recognition is key to marketing and expanded success beyond the field. Each team establishes themselves with a particular logo that therefore distinguishes them from every other team in the league. In many ways an NFL team’s identity is innately tied to its logo. There are some teams that have refreshed their look over the years to stay relevant and reflect more modern design trends. For instance, the Redskins franchise has had the most logo changes, using up to ten different primary logos over their existence. On the other hand, the Dallas Cowboys have had only two logos updates, both of which are very similar.

The Denver Broncos logo has had five changes overall. When the logo was first designed, Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos stated, “I want a horse that looks like it’s going to kick your ass.” The mark Bowlen was interested in would be a horse that is equivalent to the NIKE “swoosh”—powerful and timeless. Arriving at the final Denver Broncos logo took several months of exploring and refining. The final version was presented to Bowlen in 1996 and he loved it. It’s the same logo the team uses today

The next time you wear your favorite jersey or t-shirt to represent your NFL team think about where the design originated and the meaning behind it. There are often hundreds of sketches and hours of research that preceded the final version you have on your jersey. Ultimately the logo that’s chosen should help the team’s brand stand out from the competition and gain support from the clients—in this case the fans!

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