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Is Your Brand Ready for its Cinderella Moment?
Does the slipper still fit?
That question was answered for this season, when Gonzaga’s men’s basketball team ended its tournament run with a decisive loss to UConn.
Despite ultimately coming up short this year, Gonzaga’s remains a yearly contender. Its modern-day dominance in college basketball began in 1999, when the team pulled off a series of upsets to make it to the Elite Eight.
They’ve been consistently successful ever since.
A championship still eludes the Bulldogs, but there’s little debate that Gonzaga has gone from a sleeper in a mid-major conference to an annual March Madness contender.
How’d they do it? By capitalizing on their popularity in strategic recruiting efforts.
Thanks in large part to its annual springtime success, Gonzaga has strong name recognition nationwide and, importantly, among talented high school basketball recruits. Credit should also go to Mark Few, Gonzaga’s longtime coach with a great track record and reputation.
It all adds up to an alluring brand for student-athletes and non-athlete students alike. Today, Gonzaga is seen as a team where quality players can get exposure, some great coaching, and a shot at a career in basketball. That’s especially important to four-star prospects and international players, who have increasingly become a part of the NCAA recruiting landscape.
Also, data shows that colleges whose basketball teams overperform in the NCAA Tournament tend to net more student applications the following year.
Bulldogs Are Underdogs No More
There’s a lesson for brands in how the Bulldogs shed their underdog status.
Just like great teams, companies strive for their moment in the spotlight – a well-received product, a great PR hit or even a social post that goes viral.
When it happens, it can be hard to know how best to capitalize on the momentum.
Start by focusing on what this success may mean to the audiences that matter most. Maybe it’s longtime customers, or a top-tier prospect, or employees and internal audiences. Why should this matter to them?