INTRODUCING THE SITUATION
Yesterday, I attended a multi-Chamber of Commerce Networking event at the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum as one of about 50 -75 guests of the NY Islanders Hockey Club. The purpose of the event was to familiarize the surrounding communities with the team, introduce the various packages available to hockey fans and reinforce the NY Islanders brand reminding residents that the NY Islanders are still Long Island’s professional, four time Stanley Cup winning, hockey team as they rebuild towards their future. What’s their plan?
In August, a 400 million dollar bond issue was on the ballot that would have made it possible to overhaul the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum to house not only the Islanders, but be a draw for concerts, high school sporting events, tournaments, etc. The bond issue was voted down so Plan A was out.
So what does one do when their plans fail for turning the Coliseum into a state of the art facility that would be more competitive with those in other cities? Selling the team or moving it are options that were put on the table. But the Islanders contract goes to 2015 and their owner, Charles E. Wang has agreed to honor it despite his tremendous disappointment with the rejection of the bond issue.
With three years left to keep things, at the very least, status quo, the NY Islanders have their work cut out for them. For now, they are one of four professional hockey teams that exist in the NY state area including the NY Rangers, the NY Islanders, the NJ Devils and the Buffalo Sabres. Without realizing it, the NY Islanders are in the same boat and in total alignment with many other LI based corporations, how to ‘Keep It On Long Island’, with the acronym, ‘kioli.org’.
The Islanders are in good company. Kioli.org, an organization founded by a handful of LI businesses, with the LI Press, the weekly newspaper, at their helm. All have a keen understanding of the challenges everyone, from companies to consumers and retailers to residents have on LI at this time. To learn more about Kioli.org, refer to the previous article written by this author.
The situation the Islanders face has financial as well as branding implications. The Islanders are OUR professional hockey team. I believe that the current effort to reach out to the communities surrounding the stadium in Uniondale is a noble effort to reinforce the team’s brand as OUR team. One cannot deny that standing at the edge of the arena itself inches from the ice and looking all around an empty 16,000 seat stadium is awe inspiring. The materials that were provided to us as well as the thorough explanation of the available plans to become game attendees were tempting as well.
Mostly, the friendly, even neighborly approach of the young people who work to promote sales for team attendance as well as the staff that arranged the delicious, informal dinner we were treated to went a long way in saying, ‘Welcome neighbors, we are part of your LI community and we want to remain so.’
When I was asked what my story had to do with the DBME mission statement, I had to stop and think for a moment. I went to the MISSION STATEMENT page of the site, as you can too through the link provided. I read no further than the first paragraph, “Digital Brand Marketing Education (dbmei) is an experiential learning process for professionals. It serves as a continuing education tool in the “Read, Write & Share” philosophy covering subject matter in digital, branding, marketing, business and more.”
The words branding and marketing are there and so are the words business and more. To me, the challenge facing the coliseum and the NY Islanders involves branding, marketing and business. The situation might be compared to solving a problem using a computer. There are two choices, to solve it with hardware and/or with software.
Hardware, in this case, would be refurbishing the stadium. ‘Not in the budget’, comes the word from above. Then there is software, marketing and branding, in this case. To me, there is a clear and obvious path for the stadium and the NY Islanders, in particular, to take. Re-Branding and Local Marketing.
The Islanders latest sticker logo contains the slogan, ‘WE’RE ALL ISLANDERS’. That clearly brands them as part of the Kioli philosophy, ‘Keep It On Long Island’, in other words, Local Marketing, that’s easy. New media is built for local marketing.
So there’s the answer, brand and market to solve this business challenge. In addition, what fascinated me most, after doing this additional exploration, is what powerful tools branding and marketing can be for a business; how they can be assets and even best friends when used properly and when there is no other choice.