Two Lessons in Branding from The Masters Itself

It’s the first week in April. If you’re like me, you know that means it’s time for the Masters Tournament. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone willing to call the Masters a scrappy event. But this tournament’s grand name and carefully sculpted brand image belies some humble roots.

The Masters is not the oldest of the four major tournaments (and even that definition has some interesting history) and Augusta, GA isn’t exactly a major metropolis. Now, this is not to say that the tournament and its home aren’t a big deal, rather that they’re examples of how far a brand can take you.

After all, this is the golf tournament everyone knows – even if not by name. I’d wager nearly any adult with even a slight awareness of the PGA can still picture Tiger Woods donning his green jacket. Golfers can take this a step further and clearly see the gold logo of the Masters in their mind’s eye. And then there are the traditions: those green jackets remain on-site, Wednesday hosts a Par 3 contest, winners receive a lifetime invitation to the tournament. I could go on and on.

My point is this: The Masters Tournament has established an incredible brand and the people behind the tournament know how to use it. Attorneys could learn a thing or two from this event.

  1. If your law firm already has a recognizable brand, put yours to use like they do.
    The Masters Tournament doesn’t hesitate to leverage its logo on everything from their official memorabilia to the bags of potato chips sold at the concession stands. But it also doesn’t make these things available at just any sporting goods store. Despite the revenue that could bring, it would surely cheapen the brand.

    Likewise, a large part of the tournament’s cache lies in is exclusivity. Not everyone is invited to play at Augusta. And even among the winners, the title doesn’t allow carte blanche to dilute the brand. Winners keep those famous green jackets for that first year. After that, they’re traditionally returned to the course where they are housed with their peers.

    Finally, the tournament’s history is repeated in both word and deed every spring without fail, and the media eats it up. Your firm should be no different. Use your logo or typeface consistently across your website, your letterhead, email signatures and even your interior design. Visual identities are just one aspect of a brand, but they do matter. Likewise, build your traditions and leverage them. Have a great elevator speech or origin story? Share it consistently and regularly. If it serves your brand, make sure everyone who works with you knows where you came from, why you got started or what your firm’s flagship cases have been.

  1. Know who your real competition is.
    The Masters is a big deal. But not as big as, say, the NCAA basketball tournament or the Super Bowl. From a brand perspective, that’s just fine. Not everyone enjoys golf and the viewing experience is unique to the sport. This distinction is probably most apparent in the advertising associated the tournament and its athletes’ behavior. Raucous beer commercials and aggressive gladiator antics are replaced with ads for investment banking and luxury automobiles.

    Your lesson then is to understand who you’re up against. Odds are there’s a big firm serving your city or state whose marketing you simply can’t beat. But are there smaller fish you can outfox? The Masters isn’t the biggest or most well-known sporting event in the US, but it’s certainly the most well-known among its target audience. Can you say the same for your firm?

    So take a lesson from the tournament this weekend. Figure out your brand, and your competition, and remember that you don’t have to be the biggest or highest-grossing firm in your area. To reap the benefits of a smart legal brand, you just need to stand out from the competition in whatever way makes sense for your firm.

Looking for more information on law firm branding? Download our related white paper, Marginalizing Your Most Valuable Asset: What Attorneys Don’t Understand About Brands.

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