The four golden naming rights rules marketers need to follow
A view from Paul Samuels

The four golden naming rights rules marketers need to follow

As Santander Cycles starts on a long journey to disassociate itself from Barclays and Boris Bikes and Wembley Arena marks one year as the SSE Arena, Paul Samuels, naming rights expert and executive vice president, AEG Global Partnerships, outlines the best ways for marketers to make these deals work.

Remember the core values of the business you are renaming, never lose sight of them

What’s in a name? I spend much of my time working this through with my team at AEG. A large part of our work involves negotiating multi million pound, long-term naming rights deals.

We have just reached the first anniversary of our partnership with energy company SSE to rename and rebrand Wembley Arena as The SSE Arena, Wembley so now seemed like the right time to reflect on the opportunities and challenges of a naming rights deals. Our job, which is of course on-going, is to ensure that the new name embeds itself in the public consciousness but at the same time not lose the affection for a music and entertainment venue that has been part of the fabric of London for many decades.

These are the rules we've followed and would recommend to marketers considering a naming deal:

1. Remember the core values of the business you are renaming. Never lose sight of them. A venue is an entertainment environment not just an advertising platform. It’s an oversight that is often made and the customers will notice. If the business is an existing one rather than something newly formed it can be to your advantage to respect the past history of a name but balance that against raising awareness of the new one. This gives you the opportunity to be creative by continuing to leverage the power of a previous name while at the same time establishing the new one.

2. Make it a partnership. Marketer and client have to activate the partnership together as the harder you work the naming rights deal the harder it will work for you.  It’s sometimes forgotten that you can’t just be commercial – you need to be creative too. Creative ideas whether they are stunts or a clever use of social media will bring the new name alive and start to embed it in the public consciousness.

3. Brand sensitively. New branding and the business have to fit effortlessly together. This is where the relationship between business and naming rights partner has to be so close to ensuring nothing jars. What’s crucial is that it’s not just a badging exercise. The customers will soon let you know if it’s not working, even more so when it’s a brand they already know and love.

4. Have a long-term strategic plan and commitment. New names take time to bed in and it’s important to realise this is about years not days or months. You have to be tenacious with naming rights – every correct mention counts.


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