3 Brand Marketing Lessons from the Butler Bulldogs

There’s a lot we can learn from the Butler Bulldogs and their young coach, Brad Stevens. And it’s not all limited to the basketball court. It extends to brand marketing.

Brand Marketing Lesson # 1: Craft “Your Way” and Stick to It

Everyone talks about “the Butler way.” For them, it’s all about unselfish team play. Their “way” molds everything they do—which kids they recruit, what plays they run, everything.

In business and in ministry—find out who you are, determine your God-given DNA, follow your unique dream, and stick to it. Butler never altered, never veered from their “way” throughout the season or throughout the NCAA tourney.

Guess what? New recruits will come to Butler because of their “way.” Of course, some recruits will avoid Butler for the same reason. And that’s okay. As Stevens says:

“We need to remember who we are. I think that’s why we made the championship game, because we’ve got unselfish guys. We have a niche from the standpoint of basketball with a good tradition and a fieldhouse (historic Hinkle Fieldhouse) that really embraces the history of basketball. So we’re very unique. I think being unique is good.”

The lesson: know who you are, what you’re about. Know that you can’t and won’t attract everyone, but that you can and will attract those within your “niche” if you carve out your “way” and refuse to be moved from it.

Brand Marketing Lesson # 2: Focus on What You Have; Don’t Bemoan What You Don’t Have

Stevens could have complained about their small arena. He could gripe about their relatively limited training facilities. Not him. Instead, he highlights them. The “smallness” becomes a recruiting tool—attend a school and play for a team that’s small enough to be like family. Here’s how Stevens puts it.

“Certainly you always want to improve the facilities you have, and we need to do that,” Stevens said. But he already has a lot to sell. “Butler is a great school. We’re in a great city.”

My ministry (RPM Ministries www.rpmministries.org) is not huge. That’s okay. We’re agile. And, we’re family. Churches love the personal touch they receive. Book buyers can’t believe they’re talking to the author! We’re focused.

The lesson: use what you have. Celebrate and nourish your resources.

Brand Marketing Lesson # 3: You Are Your People

We have so much high tech that so often we’ve lost the high touch. Not Butler.

“Once recruits are able to come to campus, our players sell the program better than anybody else. We always say, ‘Come and spend time with our guys because it’s just a tremendous group to be around.’”

Great wisdom. Yes, take advantage of high tech, but never forget that it’s all about people relating to people.

The lesson: your number one product is your people. Reward them. Train them. Empower them.

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