Glory Glory Man United
This picture marks the moment when I became a loyal supporter of Manchester United. This is how I remember it.
We are back in 1996, Manchester United is playing against Sunderland. The biggest star of the club Eric Cantona returned on the pitch after months of absence due to injury. He started the game cautiously and it appeared he wasn’t his old self. Until one action, when he picked up a ball on the center of the pitch and run all the way to the box to score a masterpiece of the goal. With the raised collar, he didn’t run to the fans to celebrate, but stood still and spred his arms as if saying: «Did you doubt it?» Rest of the players soon joined the celebration and the chant echoed the «Theatre of dreams». It was a moment filled with strong emotions I couldn’t understand then. Many years later, when I became a brand consultant, it began to haunt me why have I created such a strong bond with the club whose game I never watched live, with the city and the stadium I’ve never been to?
Recently, while reading Sir Alex Ferguson’s book «Leading», in which the Boss talks about his strategy of running the club, I’ve finally began to understand where my love for United comes from. Over the years they have built a rock-solid brand strategy based on emotions of tradition and pride, strong team spirit and loyalty to the club embodied in a positive and recognizable, adventurous style of playing with a lot of risks and insatiable desire to win. Each and every element of that strategy is carefully planned, synchronized to perfection and most of all consistent with their brand values. Their historical emblem and Old Trafford embody tradition and pride, distinctive red color of the shirt stands for passion, celebration of the players embodies team spirit. Leadership charisma of Sir Alex Ferguson and symbolic brand iconography contribute in creation of almost mythical aura around the club. Their style of playing is the most important element of the strategy. It is their essence. When you watch United play, you know they are here to win. It is captivating. Every game is an adventure led by a pure desire to be better. Not better than the opponent, but simply better than a defeat. The time spent watching the matches of my club I was actually subconsciously absorbing the same emotional message, which culminated in the moment of Cantona’s celebration. The strength of ManU brand comes from witihin the club. It always seemed to me that everyone, regardless of their name and position, fits the club and that no one was above it. Combined with the ease of winning it was the trigger that made me an eternal follower of the club and the admirer of the brand itself.
ManU has been consistently building emotions around the club which have been recognized by numerous fans worldwide. Throughout the years, ManU created an army of nearly 500 million loyal fans, which have become the foundation of building one of the strongest international sports brands. No club has managed to capture the minds and harts of so many fans and to that extent capitalize on the strong emotion that their fans carry inside as did Manchester United. According to Brand Finance ManU is the most valuable football club brand in the world with an estimated worth of 1.2 $ billion. Strategy, along with titles and a huge fan base helped in building the image of the club which is a lure fore lucrative sponsorship deals. Chevrolet and Adidas pay dizzying amounts to be associated with the club from Old Trafford. And that’s only part of the revenue. The success is even greater when we know that the last two seasons, since Sir Alex retired, the club hasn’t won any trophies, nor the team has superstars in the squad such as Barcelona’s Messi or Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Brandoctor says that brands are 100% emotion, and ManU is a great example of it. They’ve been consistently building a club around strong emotions and according to what thay stand for. That is the reason why the brand stays strong even when things aren’t going so well. Sincere emotions build real value that last. It can not be bought or created artificially, as some teams are trying to do. You have to live it, just as Sir Alex did.