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Scott Wakeman Shares Insights on Brand Transformation in the World of Sports

At first glance, Nintendo, Apple, and Netflix have little in common apart from the fact that they are all major companies whose success is rooted in technology. However, a closer look at their histories reveals that all three became leaders in their respective fields after a profound change in business orientation and a dramatic brand transformation. Nintendo began in 1889 as a company specializing in Hanafuda-style playing cards, but it has grown into one of the world’s premier video gaming companies. Apple, which has once again been crowned the most valuable brand on the planet, was a PC manufacturer of mixed fortunes before revolutionizing the consumer electronics market and turbo-charging its growth with the launch of the iPhone. As for Netflix, it took a gamble by abandoning its successful business model of DVD-by-mail distribution for video streaming, and in doing so, it scored a remarkable victory, ushering in a new era in the entertainment industry and dominating its market to this day.

“Brand transformation follows a different route in the world of sports since there really is no option for a radical change in the product,” comments prominent marketing executive Scott Wakeman. “Nevertheless, re-branding does occur, and it can be a really effective way to refresh the brand and energize the fan base. That said; consumers are more emotionally invested in sports teams than they are in most other brands or categories so brand transformations in sports are extremely tricky. Regardless of how good a new logo, motto, or color scheme may be, the changes sometimes fail to resonate with the target audience. You really have to walk the thin line between honoring the past and crafting a new identity that keeps fans emotionally invested.”

Scott Wakeman had first-hand experience with brand transformation in the world of sports in his capacity as the head of marketing for the Houston Astros in 2013, during a period in which the team moved from the National to the American League. The Astros took the opportunity to completely change the look, tone, and feel of the brand –a campaign that included the adoption of a new logo, team colors, uniforms, and even a new mascot. Scott Wakeman recalls, “It was a huge undertaking, but it came at a really fortuitous time.  On the player side, we were in the process of tearing down the team in order to build it up for the long term.  Refreshing the brand and moving to a new league gave us something to talk about while we waited for the team to improve. However, the aesthetics was not the only thing to change. Simultaneously, we repositioned the brand with the press and the fans. Knowing that we wereunlikely to be successful on the field, we attempted to position ourselves as the smartest team in the league, remaining firm in our belief that the analytical approach we were taking to the rebuild would ultimately yield dividends.”

Scott Wakeman is a seasoned digital marketing professional with a 20-year track record that includes senior positions at several blue-chip companies and global advertising agencies. Leveraging his vast expertise, he has achieved impressive results in building brands and driving revenues in different market segments, his most successful collaborations being in the packaged goods, sports/entertainment, and restaurants/hospitality sectors. Scott Wakeman obtained a BA in political science from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and later received an MBA from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

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