There’s a new star in college football, and so far he hasn’t played a snap this season. Deion Sanders, the NFL legend now known as “Coach Prime,” has turned a once-minor NCAA brand into the hottest ticket of the fall.
It’s hard to recall a bigger transformation than has occurred at the University of Colorado, Boulder, under Sanders’s leadership. Yes, on the surface, it’s another thrilling story of athletic achievement. But as we delve deeper, the tale unveils an incredible study in strategic marketing that every business can learn from.
Out with the Old
Coach Prime executed his most controversial marketing move not long after being named Colorado’s head coach after last season. He essentially purged the Buffaloes in an attempt to free up scholarship spots for a long list of transfer portal players from across the country. This has been done in college football before, but never before to the extent Coach Prime has done since arriving in Boulder. Coach Prime told the team that he joined that they were not good enough and they should leave. Only a handful of returning players remain this season.
To many, this was callous and unsportsmanlike. However, it also sent a clear, exciting message: Coach Prime came to Colorado to win.
A New Gameday Experience
Coach Prime and the Colorado administration flipped the usual gameday script in Boulder, providing fans with an experience that was more than just the game. Concerts, fan festivals, and state-of-the-art video boards transformed Colorado’s Folsom Field into a sporting hub that provided value beyond football. By creating an entertainment hub, Colorado managed not just to attract the football fans, but also their families, thus increasing ticket sales and reach.
Building a Powerful Brand
Much like successful businesses, Coach Prime understood the importance of brand building. From vivid team colors to a refreshed logo and fresh content, he created a strong visual identity consistent across all digital platforms. Befitting a flashy player and personality like the one-time “Neon Deion,” the “gold” in Golden Buffaloes was emphasized. These fashionable changes increased brand awareness and cultivated fan loyalty.
Leveraging the Media
If there’s anyone who is happier about Coach Prime landing in Boulder than Colorado fans, it’s the national sporting press. Long captivated by the hall-of-famer’s brash personality, they have been eager to cover his every step at Colorado since his arrival. In the past year, the team has received more positive press coverage than in the last decade combined. Major networks are now broadcasting from Colorado, bringing an unparalleled level of visibility to the team’s (and Sanders’s) brand.
Under Coach Prime’s leadership, the Colorado Buffaloes didn’t just play for the university; they played for the community. Regular community service initiatives made the players, and by extension, the team, credible figures in the local community. This earned the program invaluable goodwill and expanded its influence.
Coach Prime also struck various partnerships with local and national companies willing to sponsor the team. The sponsors gained visibility on game days, and the football program garnered crucial financial support.
The Value of Team Success
While marketing strategies played a significant role, it’s hard to overlook the impact of the team’s success on its popularity. A series of exciting wins assured fans that Coach Prime was elevating not just the program’s profile, but also its athletic performance. The eyes of the nation will be on Coach Prime and his team to see where exactly they will go from here.
Colorado’s football program under Coach Prime embodies an effective blend of marketing efforts backed by gameday success. Any business striving for similar success should pay close attention: leverage the media, engage the community, create a powerful brand, provide value beyond your product, and never underestimate the value of a prime leader and a winning team.
At Elevantics, we can help you achieve these goals in your own way. Just like Coach Prime, we are always up for the challenge of turning a dusty, old brand with history and potential into something shiny and new by emphasizing the good and excising the bad. If you’re ready to refresh your brand into a sleek, modern powerhouse, contact the pros today!