In partnership with Media City Qatar - Football, once solely a sport, has now transformed into a multi-billion euro industry. In the modern world, growing a club's brand has become paramount.
Football, once solely a sport, has now transformed into a multi-billion euro industry. While trophies were once the sole measure of success, clubs today recognize the importance of the business side of the game. In the modern world, growing a club's brand has become paramount.
The business aspect of football now wields a significant influence, and enhancing a club's profile has become more crucial than ever before. There are multiple ways that clubs do this, as having their image in front of as big of an audience as possible is now crucial for them. To foster a deep connection with supporters, nearly all top-level football clubs now boast a recognizable slogan that encapsulates their brand. These slogans, such as Barcelona's "More than a club" (Mes Que Un Club) and Liverpool's "This Means More," aim to cultivate a sense of community and differentiate their clubs as something special to be a part of.]
“The adoption of slogans you see in Premier League grounds; it's very much taken a leaf out of the playbook of maybe the NFL or the NBA when it comes to engage in those audiences,” explained Dave Powell, Business of Football writer for The Liverpool Echo.
“It creates that brand awareness and that association. So you can run marketing campaigns and with this is kind of the driving force, I suppose you can see it most clubs now, most prominent clubs certainly on net and social media post, some have some kind of hashtag attached to it, which kind of relates to the slogan or the message of the football club.
Collaborations with high-end fashion brands have become a popular avenue for clubs to amplify their image. A notable example is Paris Saint-Germain's partnership with Air Jordan, resulting in highly sought-after kits. Moreover, many clubs have adopted a more human approach to their social media presence, engaging in conversations with fans on platforms like Twitter and embracing trends on TikTok to expand their reach.
Some clubs keep things a lot more simple than all of this, and elevate their profiles by the players they acquire. Real Madrid's "Galacticos" signings in the early 2000s and Manchester City's recruitment strategy in the following decade demonstrated the allure of marquee players beyond their on-field performances. Most recently, Al Nassr, a Saudi Arabian side, gained millions of Instagram followers overnight with the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, highlighting the impact signings can have on a club's brand.
Former Ado Den Haag CEO Mohammed Hamdi told us, “I think the signing of Ronaldo is a good combination being made. He signed for Al-Nassr Saudi Arabia, but actually he's also a tourist ambassador for the country. They have a strong ‘Vision 2030’ initiative where they want also to bring big, big sporting events over there.”
“It is a win-win situation because then you can go visit the match to see Cristiano Ronaldo playing live. But you can also visit the country and see what the country is offering next.”
Fly-on-the-wall documentaries that provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into football clubs have gained popularity among dedicated supporters. These documentaries not only appeal to existing fans but also attract casual viewers. Teams like Manchester City, Sunderland, Barcelona, and Juventus have opened their doors to cameras, allowing viewers to witness the inner workings of the club. Welsh non-league side AFC Wrexham, under the ownership of Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, garnered global attention through their documentary series, 'Welcome to Wrexham,' which aired on Disney+ and achieved great success.
According to streaming aggregator Reelgood, it was the 7th most watched programme upon all streaming platforms on the week it launched, and it lead to the actual team’s television debut in America being watched by a bigger audience than the average MLS match. Wrexham will travel to California this summer for friendly games against Manchester United and Chelsea, two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.
So, the business side of football has become an essential aspect of the sport, with clubs investing significant efforts in growing their brands. From slogans that foster a sense of community to collaborations with fashion brands and engaging social media strategies, clubs are exploring diverse avenues to enhance their profiles. The influence of high-profile signings and the popularity of football club documentaries further contribute to the evolving landscape of football branding. As the industry continues to evolve, clubs will undoubtedly seek innovative methods to captivate their audiences and solidify their positions as global brands.