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Branding for Wrestling 101: What’s your Vision?
Photo: Cleveland High School is Tennessee is a good example of a wrestling program that showcases its vision that has led to state championships.
By Quantal Langford
Wrestling has been an important part of my life. From competing to coaching, and now helping to help brand and market teams, and wrestling related businesses, I’ve been fortunate to stay in sport that’s given me so much.
As a former wrestler who runs a creative studio and podcast, I also want to explain the importance of branding and creative marketing for wrestling teams, but not in some regular cookie-cutter explanation. I want to use concepts, from the actual sport, to relate how you could create a brand that fans, administration, and your community resonate with.
First, your logo is not your brand. Your logo is only a container for the inner qualities, vision and story a team’s brand represent. Take in mind, having a professional, dynamic logo that identifies your brand is essential, but there’s so much more needed to develop a brand that people can rally around.
There are 5 concepts that I want to share in this series: Vision, Strategy, Positioning, Pivoting and Leverage.
These are concepts that any coach or wrestler could relate to by creating a vision to see what’s possible, developing the strategy needed to succeed, putting yourself is the right position to win, pivoting when you need to respond and leveraging to win in your respective arena.
What is the overall vision of your team? How do you see your team competing? Do you envision your team capable of winning championships? Do you see your wrestlers competing at the next level? Do you see your team being vital in the community?
Having a unique vision for your team, business or organization will keep you inspired and on course is a prerequisite. There will be bumps along the course of all our seasons. It happens to every team, company or organization so ca you develop a vision that will fuel you day in and day out that keeps you striving forward towards your destination?
What are some great examples of coaches developing a unique and compelling vision for their teams?
As far as college teams go, one that comes to mind is the Missouri wrestling program. This powerhouse team was once in a flux of transition before the current head coaches Brian Smith arrived.
Nothing happens overnight with anyone’s vision, You may have a large and ambitious vision, but it may not come into fruition for years. Many of the teams you now see as powerhouses at the high school and collegiate level started out from simple beginnings. It takes a leader to build a creative vision and standard for their team that administration or fans may not be accustomed to.
Another example of a great vision and implementing that vision is from Cleveland High School, my alma mater and defending Div. 1 Tennessee state champions. This is a school with a long history of winning, but has helped guide and develop the brand as well.
A few of Cleveland Wrestling monikers are “Made in Cleveland” and “Culture creates Champions”. They leverage this vision with apparel, team gear and marketing that I’ve helped create for them to help market their team identity in unique ways.
With “Made in Cleveland” they want to communicate a mantra that exemplifies the myriad of wrestlers that competes at Cleveland and at the collegiate level. Always aiming to set a high bar and standard that is a consistent with competing for the perennial powerhouse in the state.
What’s a mantra or slogan that you could create that symbolizes your vision? What is something so energetic and contagious that it keeps a program fueled in the good and bad times. From this core vision, this is where you could develop a brand identity-the container of the vision and aspiration of what your team can become.
(A native of Cleveland, Tennessee currently residing in Oceanside, Calif., Quantal Langford runs Langfordesign, a creative studio building and developing brand identities and marketing for teams, businesses and organizations. He also has helped WIN with the magazine’s design and marketing needs since 2018. To reach Langford, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org)