There is a 4-letter word ever-present in sport. On the touchline, in the press conference, in the stands. L O G O.

In 2022 the logo still dominates sport marketing discussions. More logos, bigger logo, logo in unusual places. I give you 10 logos, give me money. I’ll give you money but give me 12 and I want the logo 2cm bigger...

Then comes the logo’s best friend, the free ticket. I’ll throw free tickets. "Wow! Free tickets, that'll seal the deal!"

In 2022, as it was in 1970, marketing in sport is still too often focused on commodity-marketing, trading objects and features. There is nothing bad about trading commodity. But sport is a passion point, a way to people’s hearts and minds, a gateway to improving lives. So whenever I see sport being marketed like a commodity it pains me to see such a waste of value.

To create more value, sport needs to embrace brand strategy. To create more value, brands need to make sport a more strategic play in their brand plans. By doing so, both the sponsor and the event/sport/talent/organisations will create higher returns.

At the heart of a brand strategy in sport, there must be only one person - the fan. Fans are the boss. Becoming truly consumer-centric in sport - not logo-centric - is the key to unlocking brand strategy in sport for both rights holders and brands.

It will take genuine commitment and a mind-shift to be consumer-centric in sport. Traditionally sport prioritises organising and performing over the fans’ experience. Traditionally brands focus on looking impressive during the event (with maybe some activation just before). Shouldn’t fans be grateful? "Our event was so well organised! And our branding was really impactful and some people got to see our new car on display at the entrance!"

Yes the toilets are old and unpleasant after 30min, the food disappointing, unhealthy and expensive, the car journey terrible, the seats really hard, the wifi network weak and your child failed to fully connect with what was happening. But what a well organised event! Plus, your team won! So what more do you want? Well, much more!

With a consumer-centric brand strategy in sport, not only sport and brands can create more value but it will also unleash the unique power of sport to improve lives and nudge society to become a better version of itself. Sport is more than a score, more than what happens on the pitch/track/ court. The values of sport can truly and deeply inspire. This inspiration can be turbo-charged by the power of brands and the might of their brand plans. Together sport and brands can change lives and society.

More and bigger logos won't nudge society. Brand strategy in sport will.

Michael Inpong Michael started his career at P&G and L’Oreal Most recently he was the CMO and strategy director for Müller where he led ground-breaking brand building partnerships in sport. Michael is now the Managing Director of Sport&Brands a brand strategy consultancy in sport, a company he cofounded. Michael is also a trustee of the Women’s Sport Trust and advisor to UK Coaching.

Michael will be writing a column for the MAD//Fest Newsletter regularly throughout the year. Find out more here