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MKTG Insights: Can a Sponsorship Property's Logo Tell Us About Its Brand Values?

MKTG Insights: Can a Sponsorship Property's Logo Tell Us About Its Brand Values?

An essential element of the brand experience is visual identity. People are wired to have an emotional response to colour; it is why marketers and designers leverage sensory branding to influence the feelings and behaviour of consumers. Colour psychology has been utilized to inform restaurant marketers that red is most effective in stimulating appetite. It has told retailers that budget-savvy consumers respond best to POS material that is pink, teal, light blue or navy.  And it has been leveraged by financial institutions for insight on which colours exude trust and dependability. Studies have validated the insights of colour psychology as worthwhile: "colour improves brand recognition by 80% and 84% of people believe that colour amounted to the major consideration when they choose a brand." There are a number of examples of Tier-1 brands with extremely high brand-colour recall. Brown? UPS. Orange? Tangerine (Formerly ING Direct). Multi-Coloured? Google.

For these and other brands, their logo colour is not simply about recognition, but rather a strategic communication of their values to the marketplace. There have been a number of attempts to cluster brand logos by colour (below, original credit: The Logo Company), revealing a number of consistencies and validating the universal meaning behind their colour.

Applying the Model to Sponsorship: It is clear that these values manifest in the colour scheme selection of major organizations on the brand-side of the sponsorship equation. However, do sponsorship properties communicate the same sort of values via the colour of their logo? We are seeing increasing focus from properties on taking a more disciplined approach to their own brand management and therefore wanted to examine the visual identities of major properties in a similar manner. With the consideration for colour psychology on the rise as well, the potential for these two trends to allign can influence sponsorship marketers. Revenue opportunities such as apparel lines, the 3rd/alternate jersey, and feature game night programming are driving properties to experiment with their own brand, of which their visuals are a core component. MKTG broke down the logos of major Canadian sponsorship properties and assessed whether or not the values and brand attributes of the property itself aligned with the values associated with the colours in the property logo.

Does the Model Work?:

Yellow: A frequent selection for many cause/ non-profit properties (Canadian Cancer Society, Right to Play, KidSport, Ride to Conquer Cancer, Livestrong) . The brightness communicates hope and optimism as intrinsic qualities of the sponsorship opportunity.

Orange: Limited consistencies for usage across property logos. Limited usage in sports properties with the exception of the Calgary Flames and BC Lions. The vitality and joy communicated by orange is prevalent in a logo like the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival, Canada's largest cultural festival by economic impact.

Red:  From a property perspective, Red is frequently scene to communicate Canadiana and is utilized in nearly every National Sport Organization's logo. The colour often communicates passion, boldness, and illicits emotion from fans.

Purple: Rarely used amongst sponsorship properties in Canada. The Toronto Raptors - originally purple - will be returning to their roots with throwback jerseys in the franchises 20th season in 2014-2015. The colour is often attributed to royalty and sophistication, perhaps rendering properties who use the colour to be out-of-touch with communities / the grassroots. That being said, their is certainly a creative thematic to the logo that will resonate with a unique, "think different" property.

Blue: Frequently used, particularly amongst pro sports franchises in Canada. Blue is a strong colour, with a historical male gender bias. Traditionally, teams have placed the overwhelmingly majority of their marketing dollars and efforts towards males, perhaps explaining the frequency of the colour's usage in male sports. Signifying strength and trust, blue commands the confidence of a fan base.

Green: Not surprisingly, environmental /cause properties leverage the colour synonymous with conservation and sustainability. From a sports property perspective, Western Canadian teams like the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders leverage green - perhaps inspired by the importance of nature and outdoors in those regional cultures.

Grey: More often used to accent a logo versus being a core, base colour. In 2005/2006, the NHL re-branded their shield to incorporate grey/silver tones, signifying greater neutrality and strength, core to how the brand of a league office must be perceived. Sports properties angling for more of a passion play, will avoid grey tones for a more colorful visual identity.

Multi-Coloured: Heavily used in major multi-nationality events such as the Pan-Am games or Olympics. The multi-colours are a universally recognized symbol of diversity and pluralism.

Gap Analysis: While the brand-side colour emotion guide shares alignment in some areas with MKTG's sponsorship property version of the guide, fundamental gaps exist as well. 

The Role of Colour in Evaluating Strategic Fit:

Colour can influence the buying behaviour of consumers on the front-end of a marketing campaign. But should it be considered as a factor in the back-end strategic development phase of assessing brand-property fit? A traditional view of sponsorship might say yes. Example: Logo of Company X is Red, and so is Logo of Property Y. Therefore, there an opportunity exists to unite brand and property over a shared visual identity. The Brooklyn Nets and their partnership with Calvin Klein is built around the shared black and white feel of both organization's branding.

However, as the industry becomes more sophisticated, expect more sponsors to weight shared values over shared visual identity. Colour is simply one mechanism that can used to extrapolate the values of an organization.

As evidenced by the new Toronto Raptors re-brand, in which the visual identity was partly fueled by Drake's OVO brand and their trademark black and gold, more properties will likely leverage the heartbeat of the city to find inspiration throughout their branding and re-branding efforts

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