Why FIFA is still a strong brand

Marketing is a very widely used word. It generally describes the means of communication between companies and the consumer audience. New trends and technologies often influence marketing strategies and instruments. One tactic that has been present for a long time and is still very important is brand marketing.

Companies which use brand marketing have usually been in the market for a long time and have a successful past. If people hear a word or slogan or see a logo they immediately connect that to a specific company. However, that association has to be formed first.

I think one of the most important aspects of building a brand is to offer a very meaningful product. Consumers have to have the need and desire to enjoy a specific product. It has to appeal to emotions, which is not easy to achieve.

If a company gets to the point where they have built a brand, they can try to leverage that. The brand now represents the market identity of the company, for example who they are, what they do, the quality they provide, etc. Consumers often buy new products of a company because they know the brand, have had good experiences before and trust the quality. I believe that brand marketing is often used to encourage repeat business with costumers by investing a relatively small amount of money.

One of the companies that does a lot of brand marketing is FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association). Most people associate FIFA with football, or what Americans call soccer, and the World Cup.

FIFA was founded in 1904 and is the governing body of all football associations and responsible for the organization of football’s major international tournaments. The World Cup, which is recurring every four years, is its most important event.

Since its foundation over 100 years ago, FIFA has built its brand and strengthened it throughout the years. However, there has been a lot of controversy in the recent past especially over the last few months. FIFA top managers have been linked to corruption and bribery and it is proven that votes for the election of the president and to decide the location of future World Cups were bought.

Based on recent incidents one would imagine that the brand FIFA has suffered a lot. That’s not exactly the case though. I am sure that the reputation of the organization is a lot worse than before and people don’t have the same level of trust as before. This is supported by the fact that some sponsors like Castrol or Johnson&Johnson decided not to renew their deal. But FIFA is still a very strong brand and is able to acquire new sponsors.

I think the main reason is that football is the most popular sport in the world and the FIFA World Cup is the most popular sporting event in the world. I believe that (potential) sponsors are weighing their options of sponsoring an organization with a damaged image versus getting a platform of attracting billions of people. Most often companies choose the latter.

It is certainly ironic that the mission of FIFA is “to develop football everywhere and for all, to touch the world through its inspiring tournaments and to build a better future through the power of the game” and their slogan is “For the Game. For the World.” But I guess people are looking at the “World Cup” and still believe that FIFA can deliver a high quality product through very well organized and amazing events. Moreover, men and women have not stopped playing or watching football because the association is corrupt. This could change if the game itself is fixed, especially for passive football fans.

From a sponsoring perspective I assume that companies are saying to themselves that they are not sponsoring the FIFA but the FIFA World Cup. The opportunity to have a significant amount of airtime in front of a massive international audience is just too tempting. I would argue that sponsors need FIFA more than FIFA needs them.

Besides this, the organization reacted and suspended all known corrupted officials. They are trying to navigate the ship back on course and reestablish a positive image step-by-step. All this shows that a very famous and well respected product can protect an established brand through crisis.

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