by Jayson Schmidt, Preseason
Recently, I found myself driving through a construction zone on I-95. Or rather, crawling.
The traffic was moving as slowly as the seemingly endless highway construction projects these days. When you’re used to a sea of brake lights and reflective barrels, you tend to block things out for the purposes of saving mental energy.
Seeing a yellow dump truck, for example, is common.
Construction equipment is supposed to be yellow because yellow things raise caution, like a school bus. This consistency of color creates a framework of understanding within our brains. Your brain registers nothing out of the ordinary and goes back to power-saver mode as a survival mechanism to conserve energy for what’s most important.
So what happens when the thing you expect becomes the unexpected?
What happens when a yellow dump truck is actually pink?
Societal norms exist across all spectrums, including in college athletics.
What’s familiar to you or your sport is good to an extent, but you must consider the opportunities associated with standing out beyond what you know. With competition for recruits at an all-time high, you can’t afford not to hone your USP (or unique selling point) and then go beyond that to make sure that everybody knows your program.
Many coaches operate by following in the footsteps of those that taught them, which is amazing if your mentor was a phenomenal recruiter. If not, “we’ve always done it that way” can be a toxic phrase that will leave you in the dust.
It is imperative to tell your story in a compelling way.
Like the pink dump truck, be different. I had no choice but to notice it despite sitting in traffic for the umpteenth time. Breaking expectations is the key for building your brand and winning with recruits.
Every campus offers something that no other place does. Highlight it. Every program has people that no other place does. Highlight them. Every coach has their own unique approach for the betterment of their athletes and the flourishing of their program. Highlight that. If you can be uniquely you while sharing it in a way that is uniquely new, you’ll create a brand built on energy and authenticity.
The same-old, same-old won’t work moving forward. It’s time to think outside the box and get creative while telling your story. Even if it’s awkward at first, there are no conference standings for storytelling. If you don’t try, though? Chances are, that will show up in the standings for years to come.
If you’re struggling with how to stand out and need some creativity, shoot me an email.
This article is the third in a series on athletics branding written by Jayson Schmidt, a former NCAA Division II head coach and managing partner of Preseason, a creative agency that helps colleges win.
Struggling with your brand or just simply want an edge on the competition? Preseason can elevate your story and deliver it to recruits, fans, and donors. Click here for a list of our services.