Naming Rights and Beyond

Naming Rights and Beyond

What if I told you that naming rights (such as for buildings, programs, events, and facilities) were history—that they were as historical as the dinosaur? Unfortunately, despite us talking about the fact that gold, silver, and bronze packages were dead 20 years ago, we still see an abundance of them. But let me tell you, and very clearly say it—naming rights in their traditional form are also dead!

That doesn’t mean that corporate names will not adorn buildings, facilities, events, and programs. It just means that to be successful, they need to be more fully integrated. I know this is not rocket science, nor is it really new, but it needs to be said and emphasised. The days of hanging a name at the front, getting some tickets, and running an activation are over. The real success stories in naming rights are becoming even further integrated. The brands that are doing this right are taking a stake in the property. That does not mean they choose the opening pitcher, determine where donated funds will be applied, or what city roads get plowed first, but those brands are more deeply integrated than ever before. Here are some ways that “naming partners” are integrating with their partner properties beyond putting a name in front of them.

  • How can the partner’s products be used in the property? How can those products provide better efficiencies and cost savings for the property? If this is truly a partnership, why are you using someone else’s products at your property. That is like being married and cheating on the side, but saying you still love your partner!
  • What media value can the brand bring to the table? How can the partner leverage its media to showcase its brand partner?
  • How can the brand invest in infrastructure, HR, and other areas of the operation to leverage its own profile, and deliver better value and opportunities for the property?
  • What about P3 or P3 concepts between sponsor brands and properties? What investment is the sponsor making in the building of a new facility? Perhaps for a municipality, this is a possibility. Maybe the city will build it and lease it long term to the partner?
  • For some scenarios, the “partnership” may not be a naming right at all. It may be a business relationship around operations with some brand exposure/profile/access.

Whether you are a small charitable organization naming a program, a pro sports team naming a building, a municipality naming a recreational facility or ballpark, or a sport organization naming a bonspiel or tournament, the choice to become a naming partner holds much more responsibility than it used to. Understand, whether you are buying or selling a naming partnership, it needs to be fully integrated or it will not be successful in today’s world.

For long-term success, we truly need to think differently!

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