by Jayson Schmidt, Preseason
Last September, the NCAA reversed a long-standing position to allow the NCAA Division I women’s basketball national tournament to use “March Madness” branding.
Said Lynn Holzman, vice president of women’s basketball: “The brand recognition that March Madness carries will broaden marketing opportunities as we continue that work to elevate the women’s basketball championship.”
Said Lisa Campos, chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee and director of athletics at the University of Texas at San Antonio: “Adding the March Madness trademark to the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will enhance the development and public perception of the sport, and the oversight committee looks forward to its work to address other recommendations through the governance structure to continue those efforts.”
This is important. It illustrates why branding is a necessity for your program.
Branding creates opportunity.
There has been progress made in creating similar experiences for both the men’s and women’s tournaments––– like moving to a zero-budget starting point and giving players equal hotels, food, and gifts. These are tangible benefits that go a long way in removing the inequity that has existed for decades. We all remember the weight room controversy, right?
Aligning both tournaments under one March Madness banner is the biggest move that could possibly have been made.
The essence of branding is creating perception.
Anyone in college athletics knows that basketball championships happen in March. That happened because of March Madness branding. For those who are less aware of the high-quality product that is women’s college basketball, the utilization of the March Madness moniker and every possible cross-promotion stands to create the same advantage in the women’s game.
From there, opportunities to showcase non-tournament athletes (and athletes at the Division II and Division III levels) becomes even more realistic. Branding creates opportunity.
Your job as a coach is to manage your brand in a way that creates positive perception and opportunity for your program. Branding is the great equalizer.
No budget? No problem. You can create brand solutions for next-to-nothing, only hard work.
No eyeballs on your program? You can get creative and create moments worthy of attention with a good brand.
This month, there will be more viewers of March Madness than ever before. That was a branding decision.
And now the ball’s in your court.
This article is the 21st in a series on athletics branding. Jayson Schmidt is a former NCAA Division II head coach and managing partner of Preseason, a creative agency that helps colleges win.
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