The Brand Realization


The Cubs employed a situational transformation approach to facilitate its brand

realization. In High Visibility, the authors define situational transformation as “placing [people]

in unfamiliar situations to help develop their new brands.” (Rein, 2006). The operations of sports

organizations are often divided into two spheres: team operations and business operations. The

team operations focus on what happens on the field while the business operations focus on

what happens off the field. These groups rarely interact or communicate throughout the course

of the season (Rein, 2015, pp. 34-36).

When it comes to developing and realizing a brand in sports, the team operations rarely

become involved. The team operations personnel acquire players and coaches while the brand

operations employees attempt to build a brand around these acquisitions. On the surface, the

Cubs commitment to winning by hiring or acquiring top talent clearly benefits the interests of

the team operations groups.

However, the brand transformation process for the Cubs included integrating the team

and business operations groups to embrace the loveable winners mentality. In particular,

Epstein and Hoyer became some of the most visible advocates for the brand transformation.

Before the 2013 season started, a USA Today headline proclaimed, “Theo Epstein: No more

'lovable losers' for Cubs.” In addition, Epstein said, “I tell the players, 'Right now, we're called

lovable losers. What do you want to stand for? I guarantee you if you ask the guys, they don't

want to be known as lovable losers three or four years from now." This helps demonstrate how

the Cubs were proactively searching for players who wanted to be part of the team’s brand

regeneration (Theo, 2013).

Epstein and Hoyer also became more involved in the activities of the business

operations of the team. A good example is the Cubs’ new approach to sponsorship that would

become available in large part because of the ballpark transformation. Epstein and Hoyer now

participate in meetings with large corporate partners, such as Anheuser-Busch and Under

Armour, to tell the team’s sponsors about the organization’s future strategic vision on and off

the field (Harris, 2013). Fully integrating the team and business operations around the same

brand made it clear to all external audiences that the team was behind the brand

transformation. Wrigley Field became the central component as the entire organization

communicated about the importance of the brand regeneration in a consistent way to fans,

media, and sponsors.