Every day there seems to be a new naming right agreement announced. By and large, most of these agreements are with the larger companies in the financial, telecommunications, energy and national consumer retail sectors.
What is it that these companies know that others could learn from? First of all, a naming opportunity is a unique way of planting your flag in the ground and saying to your customers or potential customer base that “this is an important community to us and we’re here to stay”. Ads come and go, but aligning your brand with a facility can put you in the forefront of your target audience on a year-round basis, associate your brand with something perceived as valuable by your audience and create a unique point of differentiation in the marketplace.
Most importantly, a naming opportunity provides a vehicle to engage your audience in ways you could likely never afford to do on your own. Unfortunately, many companies think that if they simply put their name up in lights, that people will flock to them. A naming opportunity without an activation program is like buying the latest smartphone and using it exclusively for phone calls.
Smaller businesses can also capitalize on the naming rights phenomena by aligning their company with high-value community facilities. Many municipalities are now offering naming rights opportunities for community recreation facilities for a fraction of the cost of major attractions such as professional sports venues or convention facilities; and many of these facilities attract just as many visitors as the larger venues. One such example is the City of Ottawa who has a wide range of facilities throughout the region where companies can purchase naming rights for less than $2,000 per month. While they might not sound as sexy as the major facilities, these community-based properties provide a pipeline to the local communities they serve and in many cases, are perceived as more important by the customer because they are an essential part of their daily lives. Just go into any arena on a winter weekend and you’ll see how important these facilities are to a local community.
And for smaller companies that can’t afford major price tags for a branding exercise, the on site activation of a naming rights sponsorship through contests, demonstrations, customer surveys and product sampling can create all kinds of opportunities to stimulate direct response traffic that can be measured against business objectives.
Larger companies that pay significant naming rights fees have done the resesarch and the work for smaller companies. If these companies didn’t think the investment was worth the money, they wouldn’t be doing it. Smaller firms need to think outside of the traditional box, steal a few ideas from the “big” guys and instead of competing with 10 similar companies on the same radio station, start thinking about how they can occupy a space that has not been claimed by anyone else. That’s where an effective naming rights program can pay off in spades, even for the “little guy”.