The overnight sensation that is the Sunshine Coast Lightning netball team is one that dreams are made of. With only four girls from Queensland on the team, the rest of the players had to take a chance. They said goodbye to former teammates, family and friends to relocate to the Sunshine Coast steadfast in the belief they could form a new team that had the potential to be a competitive force in the future.
Little did any of these players or their coach expect that within the space of months, they would not only rise to the challenge but prove a powerful force that would quickly out-outplay and out-perform their seasoned rivals. What was nothing more than a brand name and a logo twelve months ago, is now a highly functioning business enterprise that is no doubt already fielding intense interest from potential future sponsors and funding partners.
The University of the Sunshine Coast and Visit Sunshine Coast must be so thrilled with the exposure that Saturday night's prime-time television game has brought them. With logos blazoned across the girls' playing uniforms and on the walls and floors of the stadium, there's no mistaking this regional Queensland team has delivered on their promise and the Sunshine Coast will benefit with increased visitor numbers boosting both business and the economy. The Sunshine Coast has now also got the national heroes we've long wished to celebrate. These are girls we can adore and champion as our new home-grown heroes. They are a brand we can pin our hopes on and build a future on knowing this is only just the beginning.
With so much now at stake and a prosperous future in reach, it begs the question, what makes a brand successful.
1.Keeping it real
We love this team and their brand because they've kept it real from the start to the end of their campaign. Even in the final week of training ahead of the grand final game, the team had to give up their space in the University stadium that has been home these past few months because there were student exams taking place. I'm not sure that other teams playing in a national competition would be so accepting in these circumstances. The brand that is Sunshine Coast Lightning are loved and embraced because of acts like these and countless others where they have kept it real.
With 9000 junior netballers alone on the Sunshine Coast this is a sport that will continue to see many young girls rise through the ranks and aspire to one day play for Sunshine Coast Lightning. Their grand final win will also be one that some girls may fondly remember as the defining moment when they decided to make netball their future. Brands need to be appealing, people should want to engage with a brand because they are proud of the association. When a brand delivers on dreams, builds trust and empowers people, its building goodwill that no amount of advertising will ever do.
Branding is all about being consistent across all the touch points so that people come to know what to expect no matter what. This is not only important for fans but for sponsors who are counting on that consistency to deliver the pre-sold benefits of the association.
A brand needs to follow through on the promise made to fans. While the team didn't make premature or lofty claims about being premiership winners, they consistently delivered again and again earning themselves a place in the grand final. Their performance on the night was inspiring. With meticulous precision, they dominated the whole final fifty minutes of the game – Caitlin Basset alone had a score percentage of 95 per cent. Their victory was a first-class performance that thrilled fans and sponsors alike.
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