The Conference wanted to overhaul their brand and better understand how they were perceived – not just in their 12 markets, but also nationally. We embarked on a discovery initiative that included internal reviews, meetings with athletic directors, and surveys with season ticket holders and members of each MW community. This was done to gather current perception and, when combined with our own research, helped us in creating a brand roll-out strategy.
The biggest obstacle was organizing 12 departments with 12 different brands, 12 different strategies, all going in 12 separate directions. It was imperative that every member institution started pulling in the same direction. We discovered that college sports fans were aware that the Mountain West Conference exists, but they weren’t sure which schools were a part of the conference (brand confusion). We also discovered that the MW had an overall positive perception nationally but that it lacked identity. Furthermore, while the MW and member institutions wanted to be a part of the conversation with Power Five conferences, they truly wanted to secure their foothold as THE leader of the Group of Five.
MWC fans provided the insight that while these schools offer athletic contests and entertainment, they were located in cities and regions that offered outdoor activities and entertainment alternatives. From the mountains (skiing, biking, hiking) to the ocean (surfing, swimming), most of the MWC schools are in destination cities with unrivaled landscapes. Secondly, the data also highlighted the belief that the MWC wins with integrity. These schools and administrators were able to avoid some of the troubles that have plagued other institutions. It became clear that the MW has much to be proud of and because of this, its institutions are able to offer opportunities to their students to achieve at the highest levels.
Strategic in nature, we designed the surveys that were sent out on our behalf to each subset – Colorado State reached out to their own constituents, Fresno State to their own constituents, etc. Each school saw a healthy response from the surveys giving our statistical team plenty of data to sort through. Based on the feedback gathered from our internal discovery, external surveys and an audit of the MW brand, we developed a new brand platform that focused on what makes the MW truly unique.
Old Hat developed the ‘At The Peak’ campaign to highlight the fact that the MW operates at the peak of excellence in ways no other conference can claim. The foundational piece for the campaign was the brand video which focuses on each aspect of the MW’s unique positioning while showing visuals from every campus, city and/or student-athletes. Old Hat turned that video into two 30-second spots that will play on national television during MW events, as well as creating two “institutional versions” of each spot that focus more heavily on each school, which will be provided to each campus to play in-venue.
For social media, Old Hat created a social media campaign that encompassed Twitter, Facebook and Instagram including a calendar for recommended posts, a full suite of social media graphic templates for the conference office and each institution, target audience personas and a social media guide.
The final piece of the puzzle was print collateral which included outdoor boards, airport signage, facility graphics and standard print materials for use nationwide, at campus locations and at championship events.
Beyond creative production, Old Hat’s role included a full digital media strategy, traditional media placement and recommendations, campaign rollout strategy and consulting, research and data analysis and more.