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Building the Brand

I’m gonna go a little off topic here today. Normally I prattle on about some crazy game situation our guys got themselves into, or stat-geek numbers that probably only three people care about, but I feel compelled to share a new tangent this time. As anyone who has read this blog before knows, we are a new program here at SeattleU. This is our third year of existence after a roughly 30 year hiatus. With that comes a huge need for exposure and “selling the brand.” For our coaching and support staff, that means just about everything we do has that goal in mind. Whether we are out recruiting, working a camp, talking to the press, or blogging, we are constantly pushing the SeattleU brand. Getting people to take notice is perhaps the biggest priority we have. We are in a large metropolitan area, and one of only two Division I schools in the city, yet there are still people who are unaware that we are back at Division I or even that we have a baseball program again! We have to change that!

One of the challenges we face in this process is the balancing act we have between honoring and connecting with the past traditions here and the push to raise the profile of the new wave. Our old identity, when we were known as the Chieftains, is loaded with success and and alums chomping at the bit to reconnect. Our new identity, however, is built around a new name, the Redhawks, new conference affiliations and rivals, and a different, off-campus facility. How do we embrace the gems of our past, people like Eddie and Johnny O’Brien, the former two-sport stars at SeattleU who went on to become the first double brother double play combo in the big leagues, while at the same time selling this new name and brand? It’s an interesting and challenging task, but certainly an exciting one. For their part, our alumni base has been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic, donating time, money, and expertise to our myriad of projects, even if they do long a wee bit for the old Chieftain mascot to make a return.

Technology is one of the major ways we are attempting to push the SeattleU brand ahead. We don’t have a huge media or marketing budget (or even a small one to be honest) so we have to get creative with the avenues we reach out to our fans, both current and future. We have certainly jumped into the social media pool, though we are still learning the ropes. Twitter has been big for us. While I have my own personal account – @coachferg – I also co-tweet from our team account – @SU_Baseball – along with our play-by-play announcer Dan Giuliani. Giuliani also has his own personal account – @DanGiuliani – so in essence, we really have 3 accounts from which we can spread the gospel of Redhawk Baseball! Facebook is another outlet we are trying to grow. We have the standard litany of photos and news and what-not on our page, but we are also exploring ways to create even more interaction with our fans, through avenues such as embedded video players live-streaming our games, fan giveaways, and live auctions during broadcasts. Pinterest is yet another road we’re careening down, though I must admit it feels at this point like the steering wheel is disconnected. My wife turned me onto this site (she’s an addict) as well as one of our alums, who happens to be a social media guru. It looks to be a particularly effectual way to give people a sense of what our program stands for and the atmosphere we foster here. It’s also a great way to reach out to moms, who as all coaches know, are the bus drivers of the recruiting process. Pinterest’s current demographics are roughly 80% women, so we know we can reach that particular audience with our message of family, academics, and charity. I can almost guarantee you there will be more Pinterest stories in the future from me, so prepare yourself!

I mentioned our broadcasts, and they are quickly becoming the nexus of our efforts to expand our brand. We have already added a streaming video option to go along with our audio broadcasts, and as I mentioned, we are making those available on our Facebook page as well as our website. In addition we are working on an iPhone app that will allow fans to stream all of our audio broadcasts. All these things combined with a host of new promotional events planned for home games has us on the right track I think to building up the recognition for the SeattleU brand. Be on the look out folks! There’s more coming!