Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brand of Steel

Throughout history, this brand has matched the hard-nosed work ethic of a city and its people. It's most loyal supporters describe the brand as “strong,” “tough” and “hard-working,”.

Tonight, the Pittsburgh Steelers open defence of their 6th Super Bowl title, kicking off the NFL regular season looking to kick some Tennessee ass.

The visiting Titans are not facing a mere football team tonight in the Steel City. They're taking on a powerful brand, otherwise known as "Steeler Nation".

The Steelers franchise traditionally ranks as one of the strongest team brands in its local market compared with scores of other professional sports teams in consumer surveys. According to the 2007 Turnkey Team Brand Index, the Steelers ranked first among 122 team brands in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL with data supplied by more than 12,000 fans in 47 markets. In the 2008 survey, Steelers ranked third.

Values such as “family-oriented”, “blue collar,” and "stability" have created a brand whereby the team actually defines the city. "Pittsburgh" and the "Steelers" have always gone together ... much like "Bud" and "Wiser".

Probably the single biggest reason is the long-term vision instilled by the ownership of the Rooney family which dates back to the early 1930's. Current head coach Mike Tomlin is only the third person to occupy that job over the last 38 years as he follows a trail of glory blazed by predecessors, Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll.

Like the Yankees in baseball, the Celtics in basketball, and the Canadiens in hockey, the Steelers embrace a rich championship and Hall-of-Fame history to create an internal brand in their locker room before it charges out on to the gridiron at Heinz Field before 70,000 "Terrible Towel" waving fans.

The "Terrible Towel" is considered to be the first "rally towel"; making appearances in such places as Mount Everest and on Saturday Night Live. Myron Cope has since passed on but the power of his "Terrible Towel" lives on in Steeler fans such as 90-year old Agnes Falls

And there are no shortage of companies lining up to jump on the Steelers "brandwagon":

Since the NFL began the season on Thursday with the Kickoff Game, the home team has won six of seven times and the Steelers have not lost a season-opener since 2002.

Tonight, a long and lonely seven months of hardship comes to an end in Pittsburgh PA as the beloved Steelers prepare to send Tennessee's Titans on their way.

"We're going to guard against feelings of entitlement. We're simply going to be blue collar humble and start a process of building our football team"

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