New York Yankees – Losing Sight of their Brand Purpose

December 23, 2012 — Leave a comment

A recent article on forbes.com named the New York Yankees as the most valuable sports team brand in the world. This brand equity was built on a single minded focus on winning. The brand’s core purpose has been to win the World Championship every year. Anything less was viewed as a failure. With 27 World Series Championships, the Yankees are the most successful professional sports franchise in history. Under George Steinbrenner’s leadership, the Yankees aggressively pursued championships and built a powerful brand. He spent whatever it took to put a winning team on the field and business and sports success followed. The Yankees global fan base has become accustomed to winning while generating huge revenues for the brand.

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However under the leadership of Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees new fiscally responsible approach to business is putting the brand equity that their father built at risk. Their core purpose has shifted from winning world championships to fielding a competitive cost effective team. While improving the bottom line, they risk long term revenue growth by fielding a good enough team. They are expecting that their long time loyal fans will accept this approach.
I am a long time Yankees fan who has great memories and stories from watching games at old and new Yankees Stadium. I have witnessed two World Championship Games live, countless Yankees-Red Sox battles and Aaron Boone’s famous home run. 2012 was the first year in memory that I did not attend a Yankee game at the stadium. I felt the 2012 team was flawed and was not built to win a championship.
This off season the Yankees have sat back and watched the Blue Jays, Angels, Pirates and Red Sox all invest to improve their brands and teams. This has been hard to watch. The Yankees have been outbid for players they would have never lost in the past.
What impact will the Yankees new approach have on their brand equity?
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