We all know that the KC Royals had a great season last year. They took us all the way to the World Series. Kansas City had the most awesome energy and excitement as everyone came together to support our team. We had never seen so much blue; everything, including city fountains, flags, posters, cars, clothes, balloons and confetti, was royal blue. So how does this relate to brand champions and brand awareness?
Brand champions are the ambassadors that celebrate a company, product, service, or in the Royals’ case, a baseball team. Brand champions can be anyone that is affiliated with the brand (team), including customers (fans), vendors (sponsors), and employees (players). Think of them as the unofficial spokespeople of the brand.
The first step to inspiring great brand champions is to have the right team behind them–no one wants to be an advocate for something that is dull or negative. The KC Royals did a beautiful job of staying positive and engaging with their fans during the hype of the World Series.
After winning a game, the team celebrated at local spots and even picked up a round of drinks for fans. Every time the players were interviewed, they made sure to thank their fans and supporters before anyone else. The players won the hearts of Kansas Citians and kept a great attitude throughout the postseason, even after their ultimate defeat in World Series Game 7. Staying positive and appreciative no matter what is a critical part of gaining brand champions in any scenario, because it helps brand champions develop an emotional connection with the brand that makes them forever loyal.
Cultivating brand champions is amplified when they are rewarded and recognized for their loyalty. By showing them that you appreciate what they do for your brand, it encourages them to spread the word even more.
The KC Royals are known for recognizing their fans (brand champions) in many fun ways. From handing out shirts, hats and other memorabilia to featuring fans on the Crown Vision Jumbotron during a game, the Royals always show appreciation. However, it is really important to show individual recognition to your brand champions, and the Royals do it in a great way.
Remember SungWoo Lee? He is the Korean superfan that got to experience the KC Royals and all their glory firsthand. After being a loyal fan for 20 years, he was invited to America to throw out the first pitch at a game. He was greeted with open arms, given private tours of the stadium, met Hall of Famer Frank White (and got his jersey), spent time with George Brett, and of course, socialized with the team. If he wasn’t already the number one fan, he is definitely going to be “Forever Royal” after his amazing experience.
The KC Royals showed us throughout last season that creating brand champions can be exciting, fun and very rewarding. The slogan for the 2014 season was “Be Royal,” but this year’s slogan has taken it to the next level: “Forever Royal.” It is the perfect slogan to reflect what the Royals achieved during the last season. It is not just about being royal in the moment; it’s about being royal forever. That is the definition of the best brand champion: forever loyal and always advocating for your brand.