As the owner of an apparel company, I’ve worked with hundreds of teams to develop their brand identities. Between creating logos and designing uniforms, Savage Ultimate often plays a big role in helping teams look and feel their best. That said, it helps a lot when teams come to us with a clear vision of what they want their brand to be. Without that, I’ve seen teams struggle to maintain a unified look from year to year. Are you ready to step up your team’s branding game? Here are 10 tips for getting started.
- Choose a name and stick with it.
It’s not uncommon for teams to change their name occasionally. A prime example is my own alma mater, the University of Mary Washington ultimate team. We went from Mad Mary to the Grundlebugs to Mothers of George (MOG) over the course of 10 years. It’s nearly impossible to create a strong identity for your team if it’s always changing, not to mention the fact that fans will struggle to keep up with you. To avoid this, make sure the leadership agrees on a name that has staying power—and stick with it.
- Create a professional team logo.
A great logo is key because it will represent the team everywhere from your social media profiles to your gear. If you don’t have a great artist on the team, consider investing a few hundred bucks in a graphic designer who can create something with a professional look. Ideally the image should be no more than three colors, with a one-color option. It should be crisp and clear with solid colors, and bold enough that it will work in any size on any medium.
- Create a two-year uniform kit.
A great way to save your team money is to design your uniforms not just for the current season, but for the next two years. Create a basic kit with whites and darks that can be used for multiple seasons and then expand with fun, fully sublimated options. This helps your team create a look that’s recognizable beyond one season.
- Get active on social media.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms are the best way to interact and build your brand with fans, other teams, tournaments, and potential sponsors. Keep the tone of your outreach consistent by allowing only one or two team members to manage the sites. Look at PoNY’s Twitter feed for a good example of social media marketing in the ultimate world.
- Create a YouTube channel.
Video is a great way to show off your team’s skills while helping other ultimate players improve their own. This goes a long way toward positioning your team as an authority in ultimate, and besides, it’s just a lot of fun to create a video with your team. Brodie Smith is the king of ultimate videos—be sure to check him out if you need some inspiration. RISE UP training videos are awesome, too.
- Build a team website.
Players, potential players, and fans need a place to go where they can find information about upcoming games, events, and tryouts. As your online hub, it’s also the place where visitors can get a real sense of who you are as a team. Make sure to link to your social media pages, and use your social media to drive traffic back to your site. Ultimate Central is a great place to start.
- Reach out to your local community.
To really expand your reach, look outside of your typical boundaries to the greater local community. Consider creating a camp or training clinic, or encourage your players to become coaches for local youth teams. In the process, you can make valuable local connections and potentially even recruit some new players. By showing that your team is considerate and invested in the community, you’re helping to support and promote the entire sport of ultimate.
- Get everyone on the same page.
Every team is made up of a huge variety of personalities, and it’s crucial to have everyone agree on the general direction of the team. From how you behave on the field to how you present yourselves in the community, you can avoid potential fractures by being clear about your mission. Remind new players that their behavior is a reflection on the team, whether they’re commenting on Reddit or playing in a pickup game.
- Create a fan catalog.
Fans need jerseys, too — and hats, and T-shirts, and koozies. Cater to your fans and what they want by providing a range of gear options at various price points. There’s no better feeling than seeing someone walking around a tournament wearing your replica jersey. Plus, it can help your team raise funds.
- Set yourself up for sponsorships.
One of the end goals to all this effort is to be able to create a team that’s worthy of great sponsorships. Speaking from experience, we’re looking for teams that will give us the best return on our investment. Having a large social media and community presence allows us to expand our reach as well—making it a win-win situation for everyone.