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Lessons in Brand Personality: The LA Kings

In our office we talk a lot about developing a “voice.” Cultivating a brand personality is certainly one of the best things a company can do to attract a certain kind of customer — and keep him or her. And one of the best ways to grow that personality is through social media.

But one thing companies always seem to forget is that growing a true following — building a strong voice — is more than just collecting fans or followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Time out for a sidebar: Dowitcher Designs loves its hockey, and being that our home base is just 100 miles from Los Angeles, the LA Kings is our favorite hockey team. I distinctly remember watching Kopitar, Quick, and Doughty take the ice at the Staples Center during their respective first seasons as Kings — and Amber remembers going to games at the Forum, before the team moved arenas (I think Amber wins out!).

So imagine how I felt — as a fan — watching the LA Kings win its first Stanley Cup on June 11th. But also imagine how I felt — as a marketer — watching the @LAKings Twitter account figuratively blow up during the playoff run.

You want to talk about personality? @LAKings has it in spades. All through the playoffs and after the win @LAKings has celebrated with fans, obviously:

… But it’s also volleyed jokes, talked back to detractors, and proudly boasted to nay-sayers.

Along the way, @LAKings saw their follower numbers explode — over 60,000 since April, compared to the 20,000 new followers attracted in that same span of time by their Stanley Cup Championship opponents, the New Jersey Devils. Of course, part of that success is due to the bandwagoning that every winning team experiences. But most of it is due to @LAKings’ uniquely unapologetic personality.

Not everyone was won over…

… but the social media marketer behind the @LAKings handle is confident that not everyone has to be a fan of their particular brand.

Is a sports team a “brand?” Yes, it is. Yes, is very much is. And more than other brands, they can get away with making enemies. In other words, @LAKings can offend folks in a way most brands could never get away with — nor want to.

But there’s a lesson to be learned here about engagement, first and foremost. Most businesses are afraid of engagement, and as a result, their brand voices are weak. You don’t have to push buttons and cross lines for your brand to be be a social media success. But you’re going to have to be willing to stop mimicking the bland rah-rah blather that spews forth in an unending stream from most corporate social media accounts. You’re going to have to find your own voice and speak in it. You’re going to have to actually talk to people.

And above all, you’re going to have to go out on a limb or two.

Need positive proof of @LAKings’ social media success? Check out the infographic below from TheScore that shows how the Kings came out ahead in this year’s playoffs Twitter chatter.

And then let us know in the comments — if your brand had a voice, what would it say?

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