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The NFL is one of the most recognizable brands in the U.S., in large part because of Jamie Weston, vice president of Brand & Creative. For over a decade, Weston has headed numerous marketing campaigns, team-design overhauls and product launches for the NFL. Recently, she offered up insight on her most important project to date, which involves creating singular brands for each of the NFL’s 32 teams to rally around. In order to determine the pillars of each brand, a notable example being the Atlanta Falcons’ “authentic, magnetic, and elevating” slogan, Weston explains how and why her team consults the “real” MVPs of the league — a large sample of individuals that doesn’t include the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson – the fans. Last season, over 80% of televisions in U.S. homes tuned in to regular season games, making it easy to understand why NFL teams are placing a heavy importance on its fans, as well as its team’s brand being much bigger than an individual player or coach.
Read the below excerpt from a sit-down interview with Jamie Weston and head over to Fast Company for the full article.
HOW HAVE YOU BETTERED THE NFL’S BUSINESS?
When I got here, we were really just trying to get a hold of what is the NFL brand about. And if you asked 100 fans, or even 100 employees, you would get 100 different answers. So what is the brand we want to convey? We did a lot of work with our fans to understand our brand essence, which comes down to three words: intense, meaningful, and unifying.
At the end of the day, what we deliver is a game that’s intense: The fact that your team only plays one day a week–every second matters, every down matters. Meaningful: It really is much more than a game to us. We really permeate well beyond the Xs and Os on the field. And unifying: We’re like that last great American campfire, in that people come together and share stories. So that’s how we look to manage the brand: It’s about the storytelling behind it, the meaningfulness, and pulling people together. We run that through everything we do including commercials–the ticket-exchange spot is one of my favorites.
We brought in real fans and there’s something really authentic about that. We went to all those stadiums and met with those fans. Again, you get those stories from them–it’s really meaningful to them.
YOU ALSO WORK WITH TEAMS ON THEIR BRANDS AND IMAGES: HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE YOUR CREATIVE APPROACH WITH FANS AND THE NFL ITSELF, WITH 32 DIFFERENT TEAMS?
The rigor that we put behind building out the brand, we also do so with teams. We come in as a consultant and do everything from a communication audit to fan focus groups on the national and local levels. We go to the game and experience it as a fan. And then we take away all that research and come back to the team and say, ‘This is how you guys see your brand, but this is how your fans see it.’ Sometimes it’s really close and sometimes it’s not. So you have that conversation of where do you want to be.</blockquote>