Sport organisations in the 21st century: a strategic brand management perspective

Betina Møller Lorenzen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The Danish sport industry is changing and with that the demands of sport consumers are changing too. Research shows, that Danish sport consumers are increasingly looking for sport organisations that offers flexible schedules, a variety of sports choices and quality facilities. Although there is a general increase of sport consumption in Denmark, research further shows that self-organised and commercial sport organisation are gaining a greater share of the Danish sport market. The reason for this is that, they are able to accommodate the changes in consumer demands, which traditional sport organisations cannot. The statement of the thesis is that, in order to survive, these sport organisations have to become more professionally oriented. In the thesis, I explore brand management theory for LOs and SMEs, and investigate how smaller sport organisations should incorporate the lessons from my findings onto their own reality. The intention is to see how brand management work within sport organisations. My research has shown that, there are a few obstacles to the implementation of brand management in smaller sport organisations. These are: Lack of resources, lack of product control, fear of turning into a business, not knowing what brand management is, lack of strategy creation and not knowing how to create customer value. But the nature of sport also offers sport organisations two advantages, seeing as the Danish population already has positive associations with sport. In turn this creates opportunities for a high brand attachment. During my analysis, I discovered that smaller sport organisation should focus on strengthening their brand communities, i.e. the relationships between their members. This will not only attract external stakeholders, but it will also help the sport organisations in retaining internal stakeholders. But first and foremost, it is important that the sport managers identify what they believe, should be the brand identity of their sport, and in turn align it with the brand community. Doing this is only one step in a continuous strategic plan, with the intent of reaching organisational objectives. Furthermore, it is imperative that the sport organisations look inwards and ensure, that their product is capable of suiting the demands of Danish sport consumers. Taking the differences between sport organisations, LOs and SMEs, and the obstacles to brand management into consideration, I have identified 8 brand guidelines for smaller sport organisations. These are: (1) Identify your brand identity, (2) Concentrate on building one (or two) strong brands, (3) Conduct research on your stakeholders, (4) Identify the right segments and align the communication with their interests, (5) Focus a creatively developed marketing program on one or two important brand associations, to serve as the source of brand activity, (6) Cultivate a passion for the brand and create a brand community that works as an enhancer for loyalty, (7) Be logical in your policy and consistent in your communications, and finally (8) Make sure the offer is valuable before focusing on growth. Look inwards and strengthen the organisation before you look for new markets. Throughout my analysis, I have discovered that there are especially 2 implications, which complicate brand management in a sporting context, namely lack of general business knowledge and the democratic structure of national federations. The two implications should not affect the use of brand management in sport organisations to the point, where it becomes impossible to implement. However, they do raise some questions for further research. This thesis shows, that certain issues arise, when transferring a commercially-oriented theory onto organisations, that at their core, are driven by a mind-set, which is nothing but commercial.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages157