Founded Blog, Founded Thinking | August 16, 2018

Uniting a nation: Four community principles that brands can leverage from England’s World Cup success.

By Louis Morgan, Junior Planner

Gareth Southgate’s England reignited a nation’s following during the 2018 World Cup, and so, a month on, we look at what principles modern-day brands can leverage from their success.

Be transparent.

It humanises the brand.

Or in England’s case, it humanised the players. In the lead up to the World Cup Danny Rose opened up about his struggles with depression and Raheem Sterling talked about his difficult upbringing. For fans, this brought their idols back down to Earth and embedded an emotional connection alongside it. In brand communities, members want to know the team and the processes involved with brands, and in a society where trust is at an all-time low, transparency has become key.

Create a clear and relatable identity.

Brands have evolved.

They’ve become thriving, authentic entities, housing powerful stories and personalities that allow customers to convey themselves through their consumption. For Gareth Southgate, ever since his reign began he has been open and honest about the identity he is trying to create within this England team – “a team with diversity and youth that represent modern England”. Establishing an identity acts as a beacon for brands which not only engages like-minded followers but allows them to empathise and forge a connection with the brand’s position; strengthening their intimate relationship.

Build a need for collaboration.

Infiltrate popular culture.

Follower interaction and collaboration is a crucial part of building one’s brand community and following, and the dramatic rise of social media has created a hub for all of this. Beyond advocate interactions are shared product experiences, allowing fans to validate their identities and brand associations. England’s World Cup success may have naturally contributed to increases in both identity validation (£264m was spent on replica England shirts during the World Cup) and shared product experiences (UK pub expenditure grew by 9.5%); but, England also built the need for these collaborations through their use of social media. Reposting gifs, memes and videos of fans celebrating and trending topics they not only helped encourage the interactions but infiltrated popular culture in doing so. As a result, the England Football Team rose to 6th in the Shareablee Top U.K. Sports Brands social scorecard in July 2018, more than doubling their audience reach and engagement.

Step out your comfort zone.

Take a stand.

Particularly prevalent in today’s difficult political and economic climates – brands can acknowledge their influence and push other important ethical topics that they care about. Some followers may disagree with your views, but this will be far outweighed by the newfound, and often strengthened, loyalty received by most. American Eagle has championed this case in the US, encouraging their Gen Z community in 2017 to partake in the March for Our Lives national movement, fuelling subsequent double-digit sales growth for the brand. England followed this trend through backing 3 Lions Pride, an LGBT group set up in response to the hosting of the World Cup in Russia. Alongside England’s organisational support, the group received elevated momentum, helping spread the issue beyond traditional media.