The NHL season is well underway and our hometown team, the Nashville Predators, have started the season 2-0. Nashville may be a Southern city known for Southern things like biscuits and country music, but we have one thing in common with those yankees up north. This town is hockey crazy. I believe this is not only the result of the excellent product the Preds put on the ice every year, but of incredible branding by the Predators organization as well. In addition to having the best logo in sports (derived from the saber tooth tiger fossils unearthed during construction of a downtown skyscraper), the team has made a mission of investing in the community and introducing new generations to hockey.
This effort (along with the city’s unfettered awesomeness in recent years), has earned Nashville the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. In the last weekend of January, hundreds of thousands of hockey fans will converge on the city to celebrate the game and spend millions of dollars on hot chicken.
Last week, the Predators and Bridgestone (the namesake of our arena) announced that they are sponsoring a “Winter Park” next to the arena. For more than a month prior to the All-Star Weekend, the Winter Park will feature an outdoor ice skating rink (or very shallow swimming pool depending on weather), concerts, game watching parties, ice skating exhibitions, and various activities for kids. The Preds also revealed a new logo, just for the Winter Park.
It’s through this type of investment in branding and outreach that the Predators have gained such a rabid hockey fan base in a town where football is king. The lesson here is that investment in a sound branding strategy leads to customer loyalty, even in a hostile market. Actually, who am I kidding. The only reason I wrote this is because I am so excited that the city of Nashville and the Predators are just crushing it right now (Outdoor ice skating rink? Are you kidding me?) Go Preds!