For the last decade, the NBA has been raising the bar when it comes to brand marketing due to a huge number of NBA fans, with the NFL nervously checking over its shoulder in the race for sports market supremacy in the US and worldwide. So how is the NBA expanding its brand reach in places as far-flung as China and what can your company do to replicate the success? All will be revealed.
When It Comes To Content, There Is No NBA Off-Season
Part of the NBA’s success in flooding media channels with high-quality content is the organization making sure it has up to date stories to tell year-round, keeping NBA fans locked into the storylines the NBA wants them to see. Such examples are the NBA Free Agency and the NBA Summer League that are doing their part to fill the gaps either side of the regular season.
The lesson the NBA gives in this instance is that seasonal businesses must diversify and expand their brand if they are to ensure consistent revenue streams. If you build it, customers will follow!
NBA Stars are Onboard and On Message
NBA players are some of the most engaged characters around when it comes to social media, but it’s not because basketball athletes are just made that way. For years now the league and its players have been using a sophisticated and highly successful online marketing campaign to boost their respective brands, with players becoming so aware of their own personal brands that they began ditching their Nike trainers for their own clothing lines.
In 2019 alone, Dwayne Wade boasted a whopping 9.8 million social media interactions with just 138 posts, making him the most engaging NBA star. Meanwhile, LeBron James is the most followed NBA star, with a staggering following of 65.4 million across all platforms. What’s also clear is that Instagram is now the social media platform of choice for fans and players. Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers, for example, draws 80% of his post interactions from Instagram. Of course, not every company has such powerful social media influencers on call, but the NBA shows that aligning yourself with such figures, and also helping them to grow their personal brands as well as your own, can really help your business take off.
The NBA Brand Stretches Far and Wide
One of the things the NBA has done incredibly well is to explore emerging markets for potential opportunities. Perhaps their most successful of these was their journey to Asia, where a whole new breed of cash-rich fanbase emerged.
This trend is highlighted by many NBA players signing huge sponsorship deals with Asian sneaker companies, such as Dwayne Wade’s reportedly gargantuan deal with a sports brand who even gave him his very own line, Way of Wade. However, these affiliations can come at a cost, with the NBA’s brand being tugged in directions it’s not always so happy to go, which has in some cases led to significant downturns in its profits.
What’s clear here is that the pursuit of new markets should be weighed against your brand values and message, so as to mitigate the possibility of both bad PR and revenue losses down the line.
Off Court Influencers
Last but by no means least, it would be ill-judged not to mention the role of celebrity influencers in connection to the rise of the NBA brand. How many times have you seen content featuring Beyonce, Jack Nicholson or Jennifer Aniston courtside, interacting with players and fans alike? This cross-promotional content only acts to amplify the NBA brand and is a masterclass in how you too can harness the power of social media.