Lessons Learned from NFL Draft: Transform Events into Brands

Your business may hold events throughout the course of a year. Some events are for customers intended to generate sales, other events are for employees used to build morale, and some events are for the community or general public that serve as opportunities to interact with your brand. Holding events may be nothing new for you, but what about the idea of branding your events and marketing each one like you market your company or products? If you are skeptical about the payoff for transforming events into brands, look to the National Football League for inspiration.

The NFL held its 75th entry draft this week, and it has changed a great deal since the inaugural draft in 1936. The NFL Draft has gone from being an internal procedural event used by teams to stock their rosters to a multi-day, check that multi-week, experience that keeps football-hungry fans engaged with the NFL during the offseason. The draft itself is now a 3-day event, with TV coverage by ESPN and the NFL Network from the first pick to the 255th, and final pick. Audience ratings for the first night of the draft in which 1st round selections were made were about 6.5% of all TV households in the U.S. And, engagement of NFL fans with the draft took place for several weeks leading up to the draft. Consumption of information about players involved in the NFL Draft through traditional media and digital media kept fans talking about football ever since the end of the NFL season in early February.

Granted, not every brand can stoke the passion and interest of the NFL. However, if you are holding events already, why not explore how they can be branded to create more interest and engagement? For example, if you have a “company picnic,” replace the descriptive, uninspiring title with a branded name and logo. Make the event memorable to the target audience, and give them opportunities to interact with your event brands before and after the event. Social media provide many options for engaging people around your event brands long after the event is held.

Brands are important because they hold and convey meaning. In the case of the NFL Draft, it is about new beginnings and what might be for football fans as they follow the selections made by their favorite teams. Transform your events from one-off activities to an ongoing connection point with your brand.

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