The Principal’s Principles for Sports Branding

Tim Rebich, Centerfold principal (Image via Tim Rebich)

*Centerfold Agency is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports

Centerfold Agency Principal Tim Rebich provides no shortlist when it comes to sports branding and its importance. Rebich’s 12 years of experience ranges from designing retail experiences to creating brand tone strategy with a few other stops in between.

At Centerfold, he sits in the middle of the day-to-day chaos alongside the two other principals: Nick Irwin and Pearson Cunningham.

For Centerfold, who specializes in developing brands and creating brand experiences, the importance of building a relevant sports brand is second to none.

Rebich relates the importance of a brand to a simple human phenomenon: “Branding creates these connections among strangers who, day-to-day, might not interact — but on gameday, high-five and hug as if they are family.”

The agency, whose purpose statement is, “We make brands and experiences for humans to connect with and talk about,” prides itself on building successful brands that create impact in the physical and digital environments.

That impact can be seen, felt and heard in the stands, the locker room and even on social media.

“A successful brand creates a human connection that builds memorable experiences,” said Rebich.

Social media in its recent rise plays a contributing factor to brand creation and conversation as well. As more teams and identities operate Twitter and Instagram, fan engagement and opinion-forming are remodeled.

“When a team launches a new identity into the world, the audience can automatically provide feedback, thoughts, and reactions; sometimes that feedback can drive direct changes to that identity,” said Rebich.

When Snapchat — a very prevalent brand to users — unveiled their new app update, it garnered thousands of negative user feedback across various social channels.

Rebich knows users have the ability to influence and set the precedence.

“People now have the power to immediately impact the value and perception of a brand, whereas prior to social media — the conversation was a bit one-sided,” said Rebich.

That power can help build or potentially erode a brand, depending on the sincerity of the conversation.

“Be honest about who you are as a company, team or league and your fans will appreciate it,” said Rebich.

Since Centerfold is structured as a small agency, its clients and work play a large part in the overall company identity. A small agency has its challenges just like anywhere else, but it is the tight-knit culture and drives for success that keeps the Centerfold team in line and focused.

Image via Tim Rebich

“As many entrepreneurs know, your business becomes a part of your life – for better and sometimes for worse,” said Rebich. Centerfold has instilled a work culture of teamwork and accountability that has proved successful for its employees.

“Irwin, Cunningham and I know each other pretty well; we strive to strike a nice work and life flow, which keeps us honest and allows us to flex and pivot,” said Rebich.

Consistency, with honesty, is vital to Centerfold’s success, especially for a nimble brand working in the sports, entertainment and design industries.

“One day we could be designing a brand or experience, and the next we are creating standards and consulting with teams and organizations about how to achieve the best fan, recruit athlete experience,” said Rebich.

The range of clients and types of projects keeps the work fresh and plays a key factor in his team’s success.

“Running a design-centric company in the sports and entertainment industries with two of your best buds is something all of us have enjoyed, and know that this is where we best fit in the world.”

*Centerfold Agency is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports