The power of emotion and experience in sports brands and beyond: Turning fans into followers

11 min read by Corrie Jones 13 Jun 2024

Is it coming home this year?

It’s about to hit. The summer of sport. Whether you love it or loathe it, sport unites audiences across the world around a central cause, and brands can capitalise on its power to resonate and drive decision-making through compelling storytelling and leveraging emotion and experience.

Whether you’re a start-up, or a big player, encompassing events such as the Olympics, Euros, Wimbledon, British Grand Prix, and more, the stage is set for brands to leverage this fervor to its fullest.

Making fans feel part of something bigger

At the heart of leveraging sport in marketing lies the ability to evoke emotions that resonate deeply with fans. It’s about more than just selling a product; it’s about creating a sense of belonging, passion, and identity. Brands that tap into this emotional connection can turn casual fans into devoted followers and ultimately, loyal customers. 

With the European Football tournament just around the corner, brands have a unique opportunity to tap into the powerful sense of belonging and emotion that football ignites among fans. Football is not just a game; it’s an entire industry driven by passion and emotion. Whether it’s the thrill of match day, the euphoria of a stunning goal, or the heartbreak of defeat, football evokes a wide range of emotions in fans.

These emotions shape fan behaviour and influence their engagement with brands. From purchasing the latest team kit to supporting sponsors, fans’ emotional connection to their favourite teams drives their actions.

Football triggers a plethora of emotions, from pride and joy to anger and stress. The rush of dopamine during moments of excitement not only heightens emotions but also creates a sense of camaraderie among fans, transcending geographical boundaries. It’s these shared experiences that create lasting memories and forge strong bonds among supporters worldwide.

While traditional brands may not be sports teams, they can still leverage the power of emotion in their marketing efforts. Rather than simply interrupting the entertainment, brands can strive to become part of the experience, capturing the audience’s attention and triggering an emotional response. By focusing on creativity, storytelling, and creating memorable experiences, brands can stand out and become an integral part of the footballing community.

In essence, brands that prioritise entertainment and emotional connection over information overload have the opportunity to become beloved fixtures in their audience’s world, creating lasting connections and impressions.

“Brand is about community. It’s about belonging. And so is sport.” – STC Teamwear

“Teamwear – 
It’s the fabric of a team’s identity. It fuels connection, pride and belonging. Pull on the right kit and
you’re ready for anything – together.”
That’s how we set about redefining and repositioning STC Teamwear in 2023. Moving them from a well-loved, local supplier to a bold, ambitious brand, with a powerful story – building even deeper connections with sports teams throughout the UK.

Their brand manifesto captures the link between their product and the feeling it creates:

“Our ‘why?’… We’re endlessly passionate about the power
of sport; it’s timeless, inclusive nature. Its ability to build character and create connections… Sport defines the dreams people strive for. That’s an incredible thing
to be part of. Through teamwear, we play a critical role in the creation of teams.”

The brand manifesto focuses on the feeling and what the brand represents through the opportunities unlocked with sport, rather than the products themselves, tapping into an emotional response rather than a practical one. 

“We are not just a kit provider.
We are a sporting partner.

For every sporting generation.

And every sports team.

On field and off.”

Storytelling through sports: crafting compelling narratives

Storytelling is a powerful tool, and when sports plays a part, it takes on a whole new dimension. Whether it’s the underdog triumphing against all odds or the seasoned champion making a historic comeback, sports stories captivate and inspire. Brands can weave these narratives into their marketing, creating compelling tales that engage audiences on a profound level. 

Take Guinness, and the infamous white horses as an example. The story of the surfer waiting. And waiting. For his perfect moment to achieve his peak. Then the rush of adrenaline when he rides that ultimate wave. The story precedes the product, and the result? One of the most compelling and iconic advertising campaigns to ever hit our screens, hinging on waiting for the perfect moment. Interweaving the narrative of the importance of patience to achieve perfection. 

The campaign dramatises the product through creative storytelling and impeccable execution of sound, sight, and experience. 

Leveraging storytelling through sports not only captivates audiences but also creates a deep sense of belonging and emotional connection. By tapping into the adrenaline and passion that sports evoke, brands can create powerful narratives that resonate on a personal level, making consumers feel a part of something larger than themselves. This emotional engagement is crucial in showcasing how a product can evoke similar feelings of exhilaration, triumph, and camaraderie.

Influencer marketing: putting a face to a product

Influencers have become the bridge between brands and their audiences. When a familiar face, such as an athlete or sports personality, endorses a product, it adds credibility and relatability.

Take our work with CAROL Bike, as a prime example of how putting a face to a brand immediately makes a product relatable and accessible. StrategiQ’s social media strategy centred on building and nurturing a vibrant community and generating authentic engagement. Leveraging user-generated content and direct interaction, we cultivated a sense of belonging and advocacy around the brand.

Ulrich, CAROL’s co-founder, became the face of the campaign, bridging the gap between the company and its audience.

The impact was profound. In just three months, CAROL Bike’s Instagram following surged from 6.5k to 7,440, while monthly organic reach skyrocketed from 2k to an impressive 19k. Ulrich’s involvement was central to the account’s surge in impressions and reach, as people felt they were interacting with, and relating to another human, rather than just the product.

Leveraging Ulrich and growing his presence precipitated hoards of positive testimonials and transformational ‘before and after’ stories, inspiring a growing community.

How your TV takes you there

This summer, we’ve also had the privilege of working with Hughes Electricals, developing a Summer of Sport campaign. Leveraging the latest tools, techniques, and innovations in AI, we crafted a narrative that showcases a family experiencing the wide range of emotions brought on by different sporting events—all from the perspective of the TV. This approach highlights how the TV is the very thing that takes you there, immersing you in the action.

The campaign also conveys Hughes’ family values, emphasising that no matter where you are in the world, their high-tech, high-quality, cutting-edge TVs provide a front-row seat to the best sporting events. It’s a testament to Hughes’ expertise in understanding what you need to enjoy these moments with your loved ones, creating a vital sense of belonging and shared experience that sports bring into our homes.

Belong, perform, achieve

You don’t have to be a sports brand to take inspiration from the summer of sport. The essence of sports—being part of something bigger, whether it’s a team, a following, or a powerful emotion—transcends industries. This season is an excellent opportunity to highlight how your product or service drives better performance, fosters a sense of achievement and belonging, or evokes emotions that set you apart from competitors. By aligning your brand with the excitement and unity of sports, you can create compelling narratives that resonate with your audience, showing them how your offerings can enhance their lives in meaningful ways.

By leveraging emotion, crafting compelling stories, embracing influencers, and engaging in real-time social media trends, brands can turn this momentous season into a catalyst for growth, loyalty, and lasting connections with their audience. Ultimately, is there anything more powerful than tapping into the belief that it could, in fact, come home this year.

Are you ready to make fans into followers? Get in touch. 

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