After England’s dismal failure at this year’s World cup finals, I read the headline “The nation expects” in one of our newspapers.
It stuck in my mind – Expects what? All I expect now are excuses to flow in: another highly paid player blaming a new ball, the pitch, the team formation or the fact that the coach was foreign. After our team’s failure, I would have hoped to see the newspapers adopt a positive angle for once — perhaps, building the confidence of the team with articles about the skill of Rooney and Gerrard, not the indiscretions of Cole and Terry.
Some may believe that countries football teams are not brands, but I respectfully disagree. A brand is the identity of a specific product, service or business. If you look at football, you will agree that financially it has become more than a game – it has become, effectively, a business.
So in turn a nation’s football team is its product. Millions of pounds are spent on this product to improve its identity or brand. In turn, like all business’s you have expectations and objectives. This means that when you fail you need to look back and review.
That’s why, in the case of England’s disappointing World Cup performance, I believe our nation’s brand was negatively impacted because our expectations turned out to be too high. If Microsoft expected to achieve 1000 percent profits each quarter, it would be seen to fail too.
Goalkeeping blunders and lack of club form in national colours aside, we should not blame the team for our expectations. We should look and review what we put on ourselves. It is the same for Wimbledon Tennis, England Cricket and even our Rugby team receive the “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” speech every major tournament.
We forget our expectations are magnified intensely upon the shoulders of the players. It is very easy to quote formations from our armchairs and say where you would have buried that penalty. However, while we want our team to do well, we should be proud of our players – good or bad. We should not be so quick to condemn.
We have an opportunity to build a stronger country brand if we create the appropriate brand image. Wembley Stadium and the Olympics help our cause. The right expectation however can be crucial for the optimum brand experience.