In order to attract and keep customers, the world of marketing is always changing, especially given the rapid evolution of technology and associated marketing strategies. For many marketers, the development of a well-recognized brand identity is often the key to long-lasting success. With it comes strong customer loyalty and a base on which to build upon.
The importance of brand identity and customer loyalty is most critical when it comes to the entertainment industry. Entertainment companies, such as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), are beholden to their ability to attract and retain new fans. In order to remain relevant, these companies must anticipate the desires of fans and create a brand that they are continually proud to share with others.
WWE is a particularly useful example when it comes to evaluating a brand in order to recognize when its identity may potentially be in crisis. Business decisions and other issues may directly impact the viewership and loyalty WWE fans feel towards the production. How can WWE make changes to revamp its identity and revitalize its base, and how can these strategies be applied to other businesses outside of entertainment?
For those who don’t follow professional wrestling, it is important to note that the show isn’t your typical sporting event. Rather, it is a perfectly choreographed and very physical soap opera built upon a world of good guys and bad guys duking it out over long-held rivalries. It is a world largely maintained by the WWE owner, Vince McMahon.
McMahon’s brilliance in the development and promotion of the professional wrestling world has received significant praise. Over the past 40 years, WWE has grown into a phenomenon with an almost cult-like following. In 2018, gross profits were estimated at over $164 million. Fans are die-hard and immensely proud of the theatrics that never fail to thrill them. Even more profound is the ability of the wrestlers to perform such stunts in a safe manner and remain in character throughout an entire match.
However, there are some significant causes for critique within the WWE. Perhaps one of the most significant is the control McMahon exerts over the development of character roles for wrestlers in his roster. Wrestlers nowadays are already more involved due to social media, but they can often struggle connecting their social media personality with the story and personality McMahon has planned in the ring.
This approach has limited the ability of wrestlers to control the destiny of their own professional identities and led to fan apathy or flat-out disapproval of wrestlers that the storyline encourages them to cheer for. Roman Reigns is a perfect example of this problem.
Within the world of business, it is imperative to recognize when change is necessary for the benefit of the company. Identifying where changes are needed and how best to incorporate them into the current model may be one of the most important factors to successful long-term operations.
For instance, McMahon could allow wrestlers greater control over the development of their characters, which may give fans a greater sense of loyalty and choice in who they choose to root for. Understanding that this is something that many professional wrestling fans crave could be a way to infuse new life into the WWE franchise.
Not only could this be a tool for die-hard fans to become more involved in WWE, but it could work to attract a new fan base altogether. Taking customer perception into account is one of most effective ways of improving brand identity. Wrestlers such as the now-infamous Hulk Hogan have nailed this in the past.
The WWE has grown into the popular franchise that it is largely because of its incredible ability to tell stories that fans cannot get enough of. This is a powerful tool that many companies, especially those in entertainment, can learn from. The WWE has perfected the art of building an emotional connection with their audience; this creates an authenticity that encourages loyalty and investment into the brand.
Through this amazing storytelling ability and well-developed emotional connection with the audience, the WWE has fostered some of the most loyal fans out there. Customer loyalty is highly valuable in all industries because retaining customers is far cheaper than obtaining new ones. Loyal followers are the key to the continued success of the WWE.
While it’s unlikely that the WWE will lose much of its fan base over the coming years, it is important that the franchise continues to engage with them and cater to their desires. Building up characters to be fan favorites is a prime means of doing just that. Storylines that involve these characters and allow them to shine in the ways the wrestlers would like to develop them can help maintain or even build the fan base.
Overall, change is an important thing that many businesses need to be more open to. The WWE has thrived due to its ability to perform amazing stunts while telling a highly dramatic and engaging story. McMahon could improve the brand by allowing fans and professional wrestlers to have greater influence in the direction of character development, but there’s no denying that the brand has attracted an intensely loyal fanbase. Addressing such concerns now could help retain loyalty and improve brand identity into the future.