The power of storytelling and brand identity: How Manchester was dyed sky blue

The power of storytelling and brand identity: How Manchester was dyed sky blue

Sameer Jama

Sameer Jama

Well... It's that time of year again when all of us football fans find ourselves with a lot of spare time as the season comes to an end. Sure, there are the EURO qualifiers, but let's be honest, they can't compare to the excitement of watching Manchester City inevitably win the league, even though we kept convincing ourselves that teams like Liverpool and (surprisingly) Arsenal would take the title.

But enough about that, let's talk about what really matters: The Champions League. Manchester City have finally done it. They have reached the pinnacle of club football and surpassed all expectations along the way, transforming from a club with limited success to a dominant force on the global stage. This extraordinary journey holds valuable lessons about the power of brand building, storytelling, and their impact on achieving unparalleled success.

Storytelling

Every year, City were seen as key contenders to finally achieve their ultimate goal – winning the Champions League. Yet, they repeatedly fumbled at unexpected hurdles. For example, there was the defeat to Lyon in 2020. It was a disappointing outcome, especially considering their triumph over Champions League royalty like Real Madrid in the same year. Additionally, there was the heartbreaking loss to Spurs in a 4-4 away goal battle. We’re not even going to speak about that time in Porto. But what City truly excelled at was creating a compelling story. At the end of every draw, I sat with my friends saying, ‘yeah if Liverpool don’t win it’ (there’s my delusional bias), ‘City are definitely winning it this year’, but they just couldn’t do it. Although it may not have been planned, people became emotionally invested in witnessing this super team finally conquer Europe for the first time. Similarly, in the realm of communications, businesses can captivate their audience by sharing their challenges, successes, and aspirations. This sparks interest and forms an emotional connection, inviting the audience to join the journey, root for the brand's success, and eagerly await the next chapter of their story.

Brand building

Manchester City spent most of their club history overshadowed by their neighbours in red, Manchester United. But now they’re the noisy neighbours that hold the title of ‘the best team in the world’. City were never considered underdogs and were always seen as favourites each year to win the Champions League, even after repeatedly getting knocked out in the most unexpected manner. The reason behind this perception was their consistent focus on building and solidifying their identity. City lacked the leader they needed, but when Pep Guardiola arrived at the Etihad with dreams of conquering the greatest league in the world, he created the confidence and drive in the dressing room. This transformed them into a team perceived as world beaters due to their style of play and how they presented themselves on and off the pitch.

Now, some of the things I am saying might sound familiar, as it is often the case that certain companies enjoy more visibility and popularity than others, but that’s not because they have more history or have been in the game for longer. Instead, it’s normally because the company has effectively built a stronger brand presence. It’s a result of actively engaging with their fans and stakeholders and leveraging media platforms to build on their brand image and create a strong relationship with their audience.  In the world of comms, companies can distinguish themselves from their competitors and position themselves as industry leaders. Just as Manchester City's rise to dominance was driven by their brand identity, companies need to invest in shaping their brand narrative, engaging with their audience, and presenting themselves with confidence and authenticity – ultimately shaping their reputation.

Companies should learn from City’s journey to greatness and leverage storytelling and brand building to help create deeper connections with their audiences and achieve the success they deserve.

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