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Terms of Endearment: A Fun Look at The WC Quarter Finals Teams’ Branding

Why did you buy that dress yesterday? Was it a promotion you just couldn’t afford to miss? Did it have to do with the brand’s customer approach? It's the same with choosing a team to root for. In honor of the almost-over World Cup, we took a break to categorize the 8 remaining teams with the lingo all marketers know

It’s that time of the quadrennial again: 1930, 1934, 1938…2010, 2014…2018. It’s World Cup time. Whether you’re a big football fan or just a random bandwagon tourist coming to get some of the excitement every four years, it’s hard to ignore this enormous mankind tribal fire.

Billions around the TV, tens of thousands in the stands and thousands packing the streets near the stadiums, sharing that rare sense – now even rarer than ever – of comradery, of being able to stop and ponder the essence of sports – the allure that twenty-two men chasing a ball holds. All cynicism aside, it can be mesmerizing.

What interests me, as an avid soccer fan but also as an experienced marketer, is understanding the branding behind the more famous national teams. Brand loyalty is the essence of a business, and although in our case nationality plays a major role, I’m trying to think about the neutral fans. Why do you support a specific team over another? Which team? What are “customers” (soccer fans in this case), searching for when coming to watch a game or a tournament if their national team hasn’t qualified or has already been eliminated? And my god, with Argentina, Germany, Spain and Portugal already out, coming into the quarter final stage, and Italy and The Netherlands not even in the tournament to begin with, there are a lot of ‘new’ choices on the field.

Think about why you bought what you bought yesterday. You liked the brand? Is it a well-known one? Was it a promotion you just couldn’t afford to miss out on? Did it have to do with the brand’s customer approach and retention efforts? Or was it that one-of-a-kind thing that really speaks to your inner self?

So, I tried to categorize the remaining 8 teams in World Cup 2018 to match the familiar characteristics all marketers know. Let’s drill down to the more fun part:

1. it’s a top-notch, high-resolution, cutting-edge-product with amazing new technology, the best of the best, and it costs as much. Well – that’s easy: That’s France. A favorite from the start that is just getting better as time goes by, with an ethos of success and achievements on the most prestigious arenas of world football.

2. It’s the brand everybody is looking to. The biggest, the historical, the one that has the most miles under their belts. It’s so obvious – the logo, the colors, you can’t go wrong even with the hastiest look. It’s had better times, and it has its flaws and some tough competitors, but more often than not, this brand holds under pressure. That’s Brazil – the most decorated team in the history of the World Cup. Italy would also qualify in this brand category, the problem is, Azzuri is not playing in this tournament.

3. This brand is all about power and consistency. It’s there to deliver. Some would say it has passion as well as style, but that’s not what this is about. This brand is about that clinical approach to get the results, taking the “customers” where they want to go. Sweden did exactly what it took to progress thus far, and if you will – replaced, metaphorically and literally, Germany in this WC.

4. It’s that one item you have to have. It holds such a promise, and this time it will triumph. Belgium is the team we are focusing on here, with their innovative football experiments and many big names. Will this be the year that everything will fall into place for them?

5. You hear the buzz, that rush of excitement. People are talking, consulting secretly. There’s a new name, a new item, and it has the potential to turn the market around. Uruguay will look to find new highs on the international field after recent success on the local fronts.

6. You don’t want to be like the rest? Or should I say, you don’t want to be like so many of the rest? Always been a little bit of an outsider, looking for other options? A hipster. Care about the sustainability of the product, about the manufacturing process, looking for the value? An anecdote to the mass-culture and conformism? The always challenging Croatia is the team for you in this tournament.

7. It’s not the best product, it’s not that famous, it’s not about power and precision, or holding a unique promise. There’s no special surrounding buzz, or a movement and a FOMO you want to explore. So what is its competitive edge? Local turf. Be loyal. Go with Russia.

8. There were 32 teams in this tournament. I guess it’s rare for a guy from the Netherlands to root for Costa Rica, or for an American to support Senegal. It’s way too individual, emotional, and maybe has a lot to do with some of the things written above. But to finish off with a marketing perspective, you have to mention England’s user experience…Wow.

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