Cycling & Brand-Building

What’s in a Name

32“…a team with the uncommon vision of restoring faith…besides argyle is way cooler than skulls.” Jared Eborn, Cycling Consumer


Brand launches a Movement; a Movement launches a Brand



As resources and their allocation come under pressure because these are times to justify every expense, competitive cycling as a whole must embrace a brand-building strategy with vision. It’s clear that building a stronger brand for competitive cycling is necessary for it to thrive. In a race against other outlets for corporate ad expenditure, branding is one of our strategic assets. Unfortunately, cycling’s brand as a quality sports product has taken a hit.

Focusing on just the 33attributes of cycling – competitive or recreational – may not be the best approach for its recovery. At times, external emotional responses have been negative since our symbols for health, wellness, and overcoming have been overshadowed by a dark cloud of doping. Marketing pro cycling into something the People can identify with is less about inherent benefits of bike racing and more about the emotional responses it creates and its value as a symbol.

A different focus is on cycling’s ability to sell relevant and exciting products to its demographic. This is more than brand awareness and moves into the realm of ad expenditure to move units directly. In this way, cycling offers a very competitive advertising buy. Some products can move units of product directly – such as consumer goods.

A third approach is to use naming and image rights as a campaign in a demographic outside of those interested in cycling. Cycling then becomes a symbol of whatever metaphor is sought for the brand. The good news is that brands can be adapted to changing environments using consistent symbols. Witness the power of the argyle.

Underwritten by various title sponsors, Slipstream Sports gained brand power as an innovator team: a white knight in a dark fiefdom overcoming evil with good. Symbolizing all that’s best about a People’s movement, the team sought to stand for changing a corrupt status quo using ingenuity, unification, and a heightened sense of morality. The Argyle was an overarching symbol even while the team’s circumstances went from a developing domestic espoir presence to an international professional squad. The argyle itself, a symbol of enduring quality, silently mirrors the mission of the team – to restore faith by offering quantifiable quality. Arguably, the argyle restored faith for pro tour cycling during a dark day. 

Strong brands can be leveraged into new products and markets. Even juxtaposed against negative publicity or especially providing a bright light during dark times can draw a wider audience. People want to believe in something. They want to have hope in good things, good times, and good people. There are symbols that renew trust.  Cycling must have a saleable image and that image must restore faith and renew trust.

Faith-Restorer is an attractive title. All of cycling should be seeking it.

Prayer for Brand Building 
“You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day.” Nehemiah 9:10
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed…better than silver.”34Proverb 22:1

We confess we deserve some of the name-calling. We seek mercy and high morals to restore cycling’s good name.

Ponder Does my character inspire loyalty or am I relying on a title? Affirm I inspire trust through consistent quality and a sound identity. Watch because team success doesn’t keep sponsorship indefinitely, but can inspire long after the sponsorship ends and is as enduring as character.




32“Slipstream of consciousness,” by je posted January 17, 2008 on his blog, “I Ride, I Write”

33Brand Leadership, Brand Equity by David Aaker

34The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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