People that know me are well aware of my deep ties to the world of golf, a game that has been part of my entire life. For golf fans, this past weekend and the playing of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National is the closest thing to golf heaven on earth. An annual return to the “mecca” of golf, where the game and sport takes on the aura of its own special religion.
As I watched it unfold, it dawned on me how much brand owners could learn from the annual staging of this event, and how over the years the Masters logo has grown to become perhaps the most iconic trademark and brand in golf. While I am sure there are others, here are 8 great branding lessons the Masters teaches us.
- Quality. The quality of the Masters is amazing. Augusta National is impeccable and the best golfers in the world dream of being able to participate in the event.
- Consistency. Year in and year out, this event delivers a consistent look and feel, bordering on golf perfection. One is never disappointed and the consistency of the quality is ever present.
- Detail. Augusta National is famous for its attention to detail, and the course is impeccably groomed. Once an attendee told a security guard on entering the grounds that he was there to photograph a weed. The guard was quick to respond, “you will find no weed on this golf course Sir”.
- Customer Care and Respect. The fans at the Masters have their own special name. They are not “fans” or “spectators”. They are “Patrons”. This level of respect for the attendees is met with the same level of respect back, and the Patrons are recognized as some of the most knowledgeable and respectful fans in all of professional sport.
- Scarcity. You can only buy Masters merchandise at Augusta National. If you see anyone with a Masters cap or shirt, that came from Augusta National and nowhere else. While many manufacturers would love to license the brand, and it would generate big revenues for Augusta National, this scarcity ensures that the brand is not overexposed and diluted.
- Collaboration. Augusta National, particularly in recent years, has been collaborating with all of the governing bodies of golf around the world, so much so, that the Chairman of Augusta National is now considered to be one of the most powerful individuals in the sport.
- Growing your Reach. Again in recent years, Augusta National has been deeply involved in growing the game at the grass roots level, playing a key role in the development of the Asia-Pacific and Latin America Amateur tours, the Drive, Chip and Putt contest for children, and now the Women’s Amateur Championship. This will ensure the health of the industry for generations to come.
- Value Add. All of the above add up to a brand owners dream, being the huge value add that an iconic brand has. Patrons buy so much merchandise at Augusta National during the one week the Masters is played each year, Augusta National has created its own shopping and shipping emporium, where Patrons buy multiples of hats, shirts, towels and other merchandise, and then have them all shipped back home as there is too much to travel with!
So there you have it. Keep your brand quality high and consistent by constantly paying attention to detail. Treat your customers with respect and they will respect you and your brand. Don’t undermine the goodwill of your brand by overexposure. Collaborate with channel partners, take special steps to enhance the future of your industry and its relevance, and you will end up with a highly valued brand that will endure for years to come.
If you keep your head down, concentrate on your timing, tempo, impact and follow through, the brand gods will smile favorably upon you, and you too can become the Master of your own brand.