Building a Golf Business Brand

What is a brand? It combines many aspects of what and how we, as consumers, react to certain services and products. Brands are significantly driven by fashion and more so by the audiences that make the choices to be associated with them in terms of what could be described as a partnership.

Given the profile of branding, which creates such an identifiable image for a number of major of golf club businesses, it is surprising that – and difficult to understand why – so many attach such little importance to the concept. some don’t even seem to create any brand recognition within their local community, county or region – certainly a missed business opportunity in terms of delivering the right message and growing the identity of the product, which is the club itself. Aware that success in the membership subscriptions and visitors fees, business relies on attracting traffic to their destination, the more progressive clubs find a way to distinguish themselves from the competition.In a crowded marketplace,it gets more and more difficult to differentiate one’s appeal – and that elevates the need for branding to a critical level. It is not about what they don’t have – it is about distinguishing “what we are”

A powerful, identifiable brand is one of the most important assets a club can develop for its business success. Beyond distinctive logos and clever line tag lines, branding is the culmination of defining who the club is, how it is set apart from the competition – and why a prospective buyer should do business with it, whether such prospects are golf event days, company team days or potential new members.

Whether your an established club business or not, branding has tremendous impact. A brand instills confidence, creates loyalty and, on many occasions, can enable the business to command a premium price. Critically, a great brand reduces a buyer’s perception of risk and makes the purchase decision much easier. Developing a brand is much more than just deciding on a name or selecting some colours. The sum of all that a club is and does, it is derived from all the ” moments of truth” – every single touch-point with each individual member and guest. Brand development requires a plan that consistently communicates what the club is and does,along with its distinct attributes, image and personality. Branding is simply the implantation of an associative memory in combination with a recall cue. Now that we know what it is, the next question – and the really important one, is how to create one that impacts on the club’s business. Successful branding requires three essentials: the first is consistency. To establish the club brand with members, potential members, guests and visitors, it is imperative that everything happens in the best way possible- every single time. The second key is frequency- day after day, week after week. Creatively repeating ‘the message’ has become even more important in this over-saturated digital communication business environment. Members and guest are seduced, or assaulted, depending on your perspective!- with thousands of brand impressions each day, from national and local media exposure to brand logos on clothing. The challenge is to break through the clutter to be heard and seen. While there is a host of other creative aspects that go into marketing a memorable message, without frequency, there is little chance of firmly establishing a club brand.

The third essential is anchoring. It is also the most difficult to achieve because each member and potential member sees or hears the message through their personal sensory filter. Perception is reality, and in many cases, clubs fall into denial. Psychology tells us that when an associative memory is being formed, the new and unknown part has to be associated with a memory that is already anchored in the mind. While consistency and frequency create branding, it is the connection to an emotional anchor that effectively cements the attraction to the guest or perspective member’s memory.

For many, adopting a brand can be a future face change, but it’s more important than can be imagined. Change can only happen when the raw materials of a brand are presented in a way that intrigues and woos us, wins us over and compels us to walk in.

Yes, a brand is far more than the logo on a garment – it symbolises the culture of your business.

Eddie Bullock operates his own Golf Consultancy and is widely recognised as an authority on a emerging lifestyles trends and innovative golf & leisure marketing strategies. He is frequently invited to speak to many high profile organisations at business conferences throughout Europe.