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The Secret Behind the Denver Broncos' Iconic Sports Brand

By: Lauren Schutte, Head of Community at Brandfolder

Terrell Davis. Peyton Manning. Shannon Sharpe. John Elway. Some of the greatest to ever step foot on turf have played for our hometown Denver Broncos. From the Mile High Salute after every touchdown, to the Blitz Burger made with Breckenridge Brewery's "United in Orange" Bacon Onion Jam, the Broncos take pride in their history and make sure there's a special experience for each of the 76,000 fans that pack their stadium every Sunday. They've risen to the top as one of the NFL's more successful teams, having suffered only seven losing seasons since 1975—and their brand has risen in tandem with their winning streak.

Keeping those traditions alive while also adding partnerships, sponsorships and licensing deals to the mix is no small feat, but the Broncos' marketing team makes it all look seamless. The secret to their success? They've got Brandfolder, their Brand Asset Management (BAM) platform, by their sides.

A sports team's brand identity is like its DNA. It represents their image and personality, and it captures what values the team stands for. A strong brand identity is crucial to a sports team's story and success. Not only does it differentiate a team from the hundreds of other sports teams in the space, but it also creates opportunities for people to identify with a team and feel like they're a part of it. That's why sports teams have such die-hard, loyal fans—it's an emotional connection. And that's why it sure as hell stings when their team loses.

The Broncos have turned to Brandfolder to preserve their brand's image, organize its creative assets and act as a source of truth for creative teams—and as a result, they've seen their iconic brand strengthen. Brandfolder's CEO, Luke Beatty, had the pleasure of sitting down with the VP of Sales and Marketing for the team, Dennis Moore, who weighed in on branding across the NFL and how the Broncos leverage Brandfolder to stand out amongst the rest.

Now, let's dive deeper into three of these key brand elements, as well as what the future of sports branding looks like.

Key brand element #1: A consistent brand image

Remaining a strong cult brand is a top priority for the Broncos, and Brandfolder helps them stay on top—but how do the most iconic sports teams get there? Through consistency. With one of the most recognizable logos in the NFL, their royal blue and orange team colors have been the anchor for their brand since 1997.

"When you look at some of the traditional sports brands—whether it's [Manchester United] or the Yankees, or some other iconic sports brand—they haven't changed," Moore says. "We want to be an iconic brand, which means we don't want to change all that much." By utilizing Brandfolder's BAM, the Broncos can easily maintain and protect their brand by organizing, updating and sharing their most valuable assets from a single location, consistently and safely.

Establishing a cult brand also means connecting deeply with your community, and Moore discussed how the Broncos continue to be innovative in how they connect their brand to their local and national community. Instead of just focusing on winning every Sunday, the organization has built an organic following by focusing on philanthropic efforts across the city, and hosting unique events for fans to connect with their favorite players.

To celebrate these community outreach efforts, the Broncos may tweak their assets to fit a theme (such as pink apparel for NFL's Breast Cancer Awareness campaign) or adding a commemorative patch to the team's jerseys. Brandfolder helps them keep all of these digital assets on track by making sure newer digital assets are grouped separately from their traditional branding.

Key brand element #2: Organized, easily accessible assets

With a myriad of creative assets like videos, photography, fonts, colors, logos, player bios and more, it can be challenging for sports teams to keep everything neat and tidy. In the Broncos' case, they take it one step further with a unique virtual view of any seat in the stadium. With full 360 degree panoramic shots, these photos make for great bragging rights (and purchase satisfaction) for the attendee. To create this one-of-a-kind preview experience, hundreds of thousands of images from every seat and angle are gathered and spliced together for that smooth, seamless pan on the site. "Our ability to have an image of 'that's my seat' is huge, and that's what our fans expect and demand," adds Moore. Brandfolder allows the Broncos to keep these images instantly available to anyone who needs access.

The Broncos also leverage advanced search functions like in-doc search, keyword search and asset sorting to help them locate the perfect asset. This allows their team to sort through creative assets in multiple ways, depending on their department or project. Whether they need a team photo or a community event flyer, a Brandfolder user can quickly pinpoint an asset's location and access it in the file type they need.

Key brand element #3: Security and brand enforcement

Brand assets are the pride and joy of every sports team—and if you're a marketing manager or a creative, you likely keep them very close. For Moore and the Broncos, brand security is wildly important. Moore explains, "Brand enforcement is huge for us. If you get a flyer in the mail at home and there's a real estate agent that has put together a Broncos schedule that has our branding on it, we need to know that."

Using a BAM like Brandfolder allows you to add metadata that keeps track of licensing and compliance issues with certain assets. Additionally, Brandfolder's insights and analytics allows the Broncos to monitor who's using their assets and what they're using them for—just like that real estate flyer.

Additionally, Brandfolder can be private, public or password protected. This allows the Broncos to set different permissions for each individual user, whether it's a marketing manager or a third-party sponsor. If owners still want to up the security, they can also enable multi-factor authorization, requiring the user to enter a seven-digit security code in addition to their password. Moreover, Brandfolder is cloud-based, and ensures that the Broncos database is safe from unauthorized usage, protecting the Broncos iconic brand identity.

Looking forward: The future of sports branding

With the widespread rise of social media and digital technology, the value of sports branding will only grow and become more influential. Fans expect brands to interact with them more frequently, and as a result there are more emotional connections between the fans and the team. This positions social media as the number one way to connect with fans. In fact, according to a recent survey 98% of sports marketers chose social media as the number one way to fully leverage sponsorships and connections with their fans. This increased importance of social media leads to an increase of digital assets, and that's where BAMs will step in to help with a sports team's brand identity.

Artificial intelligence in sports may not have existed five years ago, but now AI and machine vision are making their way into a number of sports applications. From computer vision to chatbots, AI has enabled more automation and data analysis to sponsorship activations, ticket sales, business decisions, athlete to fan connections and more. For those thousands of stadium seat photos we referenced earlier, the new AI capabilities being released are helping with automated tagging: up to 80% of the tags needed, and with 80% accuracy. As a result marketers can find the assets they need faster, saving hours of work and ultimately raising productivity across teams. The future is bright, and DAM fits right in.

We're proud to have the Denver Broncos as one of our loyal customers, and we're looking forward to supporting their team as they continue to evolve and grow—in both their fan base, and their creative volume.

By Lauren Schutte, Head of Community at Brandfolder

Featuring Dennis Moore, VP of Sales and Marketing at Denver Broncos

Interviewed by Luke Beatty, CEO at Brandfolder

June 2018