Titleist: How Golf’s #1 Ball Brands Itself

Building a brand takes a lot of work.  But building a brand that dominates its competition?  That takes a creative and unique marketing strategy.  A strategy that recognizes and thoughtfully considers its consumers, as well as a brand that understands how to integrate its traditional marketing with its social media marketing to create a well-rounded and complete campaign.  In this blog post I am going to explain how to build a successful brand, and how to integrate its traditional and social media.  Finally, I am going to evaluate how the brand, Titleist, exemplifies a successful and integrated marketing strategy.

Contrary to popular thought, a brand is much more than a logo or name.  Drew Boyd defines a brand as, “a promise made to consumers.”  Furthermore, Professor Jaclyn Rhoads defines a brand as, “an organization, product, or service with a ‘personality’ that is shaped by the perceptions of the audience.”  Both definitions make up a brand.  On one hand, it is a representation of a promise made to consumers to deliver a certain quality of service; and on the other hand, it is the reputation of the company that has been shaped by the opinions of the audience.  Boyd explains the four key elements in creating a successful brand, which are: authenticity, commitment to keeping the brand’s promise, relevance, and consistency.

Authenticity can be thought of as the brand’s voice.  This is what demonstrates what is truly important to the brand; it’s core values and purpose as a company.  It allows the consumer to see the heart of the brand.  It answers the question, why was this brand created in the first place?  The answer should be deeper than simply providing a service for the consumer (however it should tightly relate).  For example, Disney was created based on imagination and creativity that provides entertainment for families to enjoy.  The service, is the entertainment conglomerate.  However, the authenticity of the brand is creativity, imagination, and inspiration. Moreover, authenticity of the brand is closely related with commitment to keeping the brand’s promise.  This commitment refers to making sure all employees are on board with the authentic voice of the brand and are delivering it correctly to all the consumers.  It is the overall responsibility of having quality leadership and investment in the brand. In addition, the brand should have relevance.  Boyd explains relevance as, “promising something that is important to the consumers, and doing so in a way that the consumers believe your promise to be better than the competition.”  In other words, the brand must be something the consumers want. Indeed, it is quite the pointless endeavor to create a unique brand that is irrelevant to a societies wants and needs! Once the brand has established its relevance in society, it must then persuade the consumer it is the best amongst the competition.

Lastly, the brand’s consistency directly ties into the integration of its social and traditional media.  This integration can also be known as IMC (integrated marketing communication).  IMC attempts to create synchronization of each form of marketing (social and traditional), resulting in one unified ad campaign.  Ultimately, a brand strives to build a continuous marketing strategy that leads to a smooth “experience” for the consumer.  If a brand has too many different messages presented in each form of marketing, then the overall message it is trying to send will never completely resonate with the consumer.  An example of a brand that has cultivated a powerful voice and has crafted a solid IMC is the golf equipment company, Titleist.

The competition within golf equipment manufacturers is very fierce.  So much so that Nike, one of the most well-known and successful sports brands in the world, has recently shut down their golf equipment line.  The release of new club technology is almost as innovative as all of the current day Apple products. Everyone is familiar with the trend of buying the latest iPhone 7, only to have the iPhone 7s released six month later.  Golf equipment has adapted this same trend. Taylormade released its M1 Driver in 2016, six months later released the M2, and now only a short six months later the new 2017 versions of the M1 and M2 are on the market.  Each company scrambling to keep up with the other.  To break-through in the golf equipment world, first the company has to solely focus on equipment (unlike Nike) in order to keep up.  Second, each company must be the best at something.  Sound familiar, right?  Anyone remember learning about targeting the core market and avoiding the super star effect? Well, I certainly do now. For example, the top three golf equipment companies are Taylormade, Callaway, and Titleist.  Each one has its specialty.  Taylormade is known for creating the “longest” drivers and fairway woods, and Callaway makes excellent irons.  Titleist, however, exceeds in several different categories.  It is known for making excellent irons and drivers/woods, but it also excels in wedges and putters.  Yet, Titleist, is perhaps most famous for making golf balls.  It is advertised in almost every social media outlet you can find as “the Tour’s #1 Ball.”  Every TV ad (and this one too!) features the ball as well as all social media platforms.  It is, indeed, the most used ball on ALL tours and Titleist is just as innovative with their ball as each other company is with the clubs.

Above is a screenshot of the Titleist Facebook and Instagram.  As you can see, the ball is clearly the center of attention.  Even in the bio on Instagram it says “#1 Ball in Golf.” Also notice, that the first five images on Instagram are all about the ball.

Another example of the consistency that Titleist has.  Above is Facebook and Twitter, sharing the same exact post all about the #1 Ball in golf. The Titleist logo is another example of the consistency within the brand.  It’s everywhere! On the driver, ball, main picture on each social media channel.

A screenshot of the Facebook “About” page includes only stats and info about the ball. I also found this interesting that simply by putting the word “Titleist” into a search engine and again #1 ball in golf is the first thing to appear.

All are print ads that Titleist released (including a car bumper sticker in the middle right), each ad highlighting the ball in some way or another. Again, the same exact Titleist logo is printed in multiple places in each ad.

To conclude, Titleist has built a strong brand using Boyd’s four key elements.  It has developed an authentic voice around its classic image. It is more than just a club manufacturer; it is elite and has a standard of excellence. Titleist is clearly relevant to the golf world and provides a product that not only the players need, but a product that the players choose to use above the competing manufacturers.  Lastly, Titleist has developed a perfectly integrated marketing strategy.  It has its traditional logo on all platforms as well as consistently giving the consumer some information about the ball.  Whether its a television or print ad, a bumper sticker, or a social media channel, Titleist will be sure to remind the consumer that it is the #1 ball in golf.



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