The Conclusion

The Cubs were in the middle of a brand transformation as this chapter was being

written. As the team began the 2016 season, the Cubs were in the middle of its transformation

centered on Wrigley Field. This included adding a new clubhouse, creating a permanent ticket

office and guest service locations, and making improvements to the Marquee. At the same time,

the Cubs have begun construction on areas around Wrigley Field including a new plaza and

office building located adjacent to the northwest corner of the venue.

For many sports organizations encountering these challenges, even starting the brand

transformation process would be difficult, if not impossible. In addition, the Cubs had a

differentiated brand that enabled the team to achieve off the field success even as the team

struggled for decades on the field to produce a World Series. Wrigley Field was the centerpiece

of this identity, and fans, media, and sponsors were hesitant to make a change to the iconic

venue they loved.

The Ricketts family understood this dynamic and prioritized a moderate brand

transformation when it assumed control of the team. The owners realized that taking away the

elements that made coming to Wrigley Field to watch a game so special would not benefit the

team, its fans, or its sponsors. At the same time, the Ricketts family wanted the team to be a

consistent winner. It realized that fans wanted the Cubs to win the World Series and would love

the organization even more if it could deliver a title.

The Cubs began this transformation through its extended identity. Steps to change the

brand as person (e.g. hiring Maddon) and brand as organization (prioritizing winning as an

organization) served to complement the upgrades to the most highly visible element of its core

identity. Using Wrigley Field was the centerpiece of the team’s new brand because it has

embodied a clear and consistent message to its key audiences during a time of change. Since the

Ricketts family assumed control of the team, it has made the new “loveable winners” a

consistent message communicated to its core audiences. It has also continued to take actions

that show its commitment to this brand transformation. The Wrigley Field restoration is at the

center of this approach. The organization’s willingness to use its own money, at a time when

many other sports organizations are using public financing for similar capital intensive projects,

is a highly visible action that resonates with fans, media, and sponsors.

The Ricketts realized that purchasing the Cubs meant there was an opportunity to

create a new brand. Renovating Wrigley Field would be at the heart of this brand transformation.

The Cubs could only become the “loveable winners” by improving Wrigley Field for players, fans,

and sponsors. The change to the ballpark is a consistent reminder to Cubs audiences that

moving forward could be better than stopping time