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Lessons To Be Learned From the Chicago Cubs Winning “W” Brand

Whether you were rooting for the Chicago Cubs or not, it’s been hard not to notice the incredible comeback of the “W” brand.

What does the “W” mean anyway? We all know that Wrigleyville is rich in history. Dating all the way back to the 1930s, the stadium flies a “W” flag if the Cubs win. It should be noted that they also fly an “L” flag if the Cubs lose, although Wrigleyville did not see much of that this past baseball season.

The Ricketts family launched an incredibly successful branding campaign last year that made the famous “W” the central player. “Fly the W” has become the brand’s featured slogan, which now adorns all kinds of Cubs merchandise, from t-shirts and hats to even baby clothes. If you’ve had a chance to visit Chicago this past baseball season, you’ll see the “Fly the W” flags hanging prominently at all of the city’s iconic landmarks and stickers of the blue-on-white “W” proudly displayed on windows and the backs of cars.

There’s obviously a lot that can be learned from this incredible success of this branding strategy, and we wanted to share some of the highlights with you below:

1. It celebrates the underdogs.
It’s long been said that the Chicago Cubs are cursed. Ever since Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis was kicked out of the Cubs game for bringing a goat in 1945, the Cubs have gone a 71-year stretch without winning the World Series. The Steve Bartman incident in 2003 in game 6 of the National League Champion Series further amplified this curse. It seemed as though the Cubs would never win a World Series again, and the “W” brand capitalized on this underdog mentality. Cubs fans quickly embraced it and celebrated every win that came their way.

2. It ties into history.
The Cubs are one of the oldest baseball teams in the country, and Wrigley Field is one of the nations most iconic parks. The tradition of “Flying the W” dates back nearly 80 years. This branding campaign capitalized on the rich history of the Chicago Cubs, making the tradition of “Flying the W” the heart of the campaign. Therefore, this was a very effective way for fans to buy-in and connect with the branding strategy.

3. It evokes emotion.
Cubs fans have long experienced a feel-good commodore when they see the “W” flag flying over Wrigley Field. This emotion has been uniting Cubs fans for nearly 80 years. Incorporating emotion into a branding strategy is a very powerful way to get your brand advocates to get the word out.

If you take a look at some of the most successful branding strategies out there, you’ll probably see that they, too, embrace these three pillars. There’s one thing for sure though, and that’s that even non-Cubs or non-baseball fans are even aware of the “Fly the W” campaign, which speaks to its immense success.

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