In which Jill considers why brawny Brits in shorts and knee socks can harmonize
Living in London in the late 1990s I got to watch a few football games live and in-person. U.K. football—aka “Association Football,” aka “soccer”—is serious business played by very fit men for hard-core fans. Having spent time in Liverpool earlier in my career, I had a soft spot for the LFC. So while the rest of my mates proudly donned Chelsea blue—a shade very similar to Dodger blue, I once remarked to a round of ribbing that didn’t stop for two more years—I skulked around in my red Liverpool muffler furtively routing for my beloved scousers. (Note: When on British soil avoid using the term “routing for.”)
Newsflash: As of this writing, Liverpool is tied for second place behind Manchester United, and I think they can roundly kick their arses. Yeah, COME N’ GET ME, you Girly Man United Wankers, you’ll have to track me down here in … uh… Pittsburgh. That’s right, you tossers! Pittsburgh! ‘Til then shut yer bloody cakeholes!
British football doesn’t have the padding of American football, nor does it have the mean streak of Australian Rules football which is another game altogether. But the rabid fandom in the U.K. can’t be underestimated, and the players themselves throw themselves into their game. So it was a bit incongruous to me to discover that each U.K. football team had a team song. That’s right. A song. And it was usually sung by the players themselves. And on television no less.
Imagine seeing a team of erstwhile ruffians, pressed and showered, convened to sing their team song. Chelsea’s team song is the catchiest, but the club actually has a variety of songs, and most of its fans know them all by heart. Daring to chant “Chelsea, Chelsea!” on the King’s Road at certain times in the season is nothing less than an invitation to mayhem.
The point of the team song? It’s branding. Yes, the logos, the colors, the scarves, and the flags all matter, but adding the audible to the visual is simply a stroke of branding genius. The song was the feather clapper in the iron bell of the club’s brand, and it rang loudly.
Sometimes our clients ask us to brand their BI teams or their data integration centers of excellence. We help them come up with a catchy name, sometimes designing a logo—usually an adaptation of their company logo—or a project moniker that reflects the team’s goals and individualizes it. Thus the team establishes a separate but complementary identity. It has a recognizable symbol to communicate its mission to the company at large. Now that I think about it maybe we’ve been remiss in not composing a catchy tune, too.
Imagine the Oakland Raiders of the 1970s singing “Oh! Oakland in My Soul!” and you’ll understand the paradox of a team song. But then again, it would be memorable, wouldn’t it? And that’s exactly the point.