Banging brands: Las Vegas Lights FC
Sports brands are recognisable across the globe. But not every team has the history and fan support of Manchester United, Real Madrid or LA Lakers. Some have to work a little harder for oxygen in such a competitive field. In Banging Brands, we take a look at some of the more innovative approaches sports clubs around the world are taking to make themselves heard. First up, we visit Las Vegas Lights, the second-tier US soccer team bringing sport to the global capital of entertainment.
“We are not trying to bastardise the game, we like to have fun. There is no shame, we live in Sin City – the entertainment capital of the world.”
That’s a quote from Las Vegas Lights founder Brett Lashbrook in an interview with BBC Sport in April.
The Lights were founded in 2017 and currently play in the United Soccer League, the second tier of US football.
They had their work cut out to carve a market.
Las Vegas is famous for… things other than football. And on top of that soccer is way down the popularity chart for US sports.
Despite this, the team are averaging crowds of over 8000 for their home matches, and boast a social media following that belies the youth of the club.
We’ve picked out three key areas that the Lights are differentiating themselves with what’s come before them.
“We had a wonderful opportunity to build a club from scratch eight months ago, the essence of which was, ‘What can we do to make this fun?” Lashbrook told BBC Sport.
“We call it a party from 8pm to 10pm. And after the game, if you want, you have every bar, casino, music and nightlife 24/7 just a quarter of a mile away.
“Nowhere else in US sport can you bring drums, flags and tifos and sing and dance and march for 90 minutes.”
Here at Orfi Media, we like to talk about brand voice and personality. And the Lights nailed theirs from day one.
And it isn’t just the fan experience they provide. Their fun-focus is represented in every aspect of their marketing and branding.
Their mascot? A Harley Davidson riding Elvis Presley-Johnny Cash hybrid.
Throughout their website and social media we see the party atmosphere at matches and the fun the team have delivering for their fans.
But of course that fan experience is the most important element of the brand personality, in that it sets the example for the rest of the branding to follow.
It isn’t enough for the Lights to just tell people what they want to embody – it has to be instantly recognisable when you look at any aspect of their branding.
The best example of how they’ve achieved this is through their kit.
The black background may not scream fun. But the day-glo streaked across it certainly does. Very Vegas. Look:
How is this for a #TBT? @AlphonsoDavies 9 months ago playing at Cashman Field, now he's training with @FCBayern and is ready to make his @Bundesliga_EN debut in January! #VivaLights pic.twitter.com/NFIzRDeDll
— Las Vegas Lights FC (@lvlightsfc) November 29, 2018
And what you can’t see from that view is even more… different:
— Las Vegas Lights FC (@lvlightsfc) November 26, 2018
Yep. That’s a glittery smiley-face imprinted on the inside of the kit.
Those colours are mirrored on the club badge, and even on the inside of the 10,000 capacity stadium.
Even their website is festooned with the highlighter-bright colour scheme.
We don’t know (Manchester is a bit too far away to pay the club a visit…) but we wouldn’t be surprised if the stadium is kitted out with day-glo toilets too.
20k Facebook followers. 18.2k on Instagram. 14.8k for Twitter.
There’s even just shy of 2k subscribers on YouTube.
These are impressive numbers for a team that has barely passed its first birthday.
These are very impressive numbers for a soccer team in the US – in Las Vegas no less – to achieve in just 12 months.
How have they achieved this? Well, by following the basic principles extremely well.
Putting out different content on different platforms, ensuring followers don’t become bored or annoyed.
Focussing heavily on video and impactful imagery to capture attention.
And taking advantage of any and every famous person they find at their matches to leverage larger followings.
_WHAT CAN WE LEARN?
The Lights are, more than likely, in a very different industry to you.
But they’ve an ambitious company who have grown quickly. And they’ve done that by sticking to principles: establishing a strong, recognisable brand voice, supporting that with a unique brand image and then using social media to spread their message.
Oh, and the fluorescent colourings don’t hurt, either.
And when you think of it that way, there’s an example there for us all to take notice of.
Interested in working with Orfi Media? Drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll be in touch ASAP!