by Jayson Schmidt, Preseason
Your program is a brand.
I’ve been a clanging cymbal for the better part of five months, telling you that (whether you like it or not), everything within your program creates a brand:
- Win/loss record
- Demeanor on the phone
- Email frequency to recruits
- Social media content
- Team gear
- Cleaning up the locker room
- Having fun
The key is articulating the components of your brand that you love while smoothing the rough edges. Your brand won’t always be perfect – I’ll guarantee one parent in your program can attest to that – but highlighting the good is a vital component to increasing the staying power of your brand (and career).
(As for how to handle the imperfections in your program and brand, you’d be wise to follow this edict––– “Never turn a one-day story into a two-day story.” Own your shortcomings and get back to focusing on what’s best.)
If you struggle with what to say and how to say it, here’s a tip:
Find your most accomplished student-athlete or recent alum and let them do it for you.
In my program, we had a player like that. She saw the field right away and was unanimously voted captain at the end of her freshman year. She earned 4.0 GPAs in our honors college and was a Fulbright Scholar while studying abroad at the University of Oxford in the offseason. She was the prototypical athlete for us and we utilized her immensely in front-facing forms of communication.
The best part was that we didn’t need to coach her on what to say. She gave an authentic look into life as a student-athlete and it built trust with members of our community. You can do the same.
Find that person and give them the mic, so to speak. It can be a social media takeover or even a simple quote for an email to donors. As you give those “prototypical athletes” the spotlight, you’ll attract similar behavior from your current athletes (because let’s be honest – many of them want to be favored and featured) and you’ll attract similar recruits.
Your program has so many stories to tell. Begin by sharing just one.
This article is the twentieth 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.
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.