Lessons on brand from Augusta National

I grew up in Augusta, Georgia where Masters Sunday is considered to be one of the holiest days of the year. I’ve witnessed the National make numerous changes during my life. Through it all, they’ve maintained their brand in such a way that they not only remained true to their core values but also incited fervent loyalty from golf fans.

Here are a few observations on brand to kick off the Masters:

Keep prices low to fuel customer loyalty

The National has some of the lowest (if not the lowest) concession prices in professional sports. A pimento cheese sandwich will run you $1.50. Want a beer? It’s just $4 for a domestic, and yes, it comes in a souvenir cup. Badges may set you back financially, but your meals won’t, even if you take the whole family.

Give stuff away for free

Want to make your fans fall madly and passionately in love with you? Give them something for free. About 15 years ago, the National began buying property across Berckmans Road, the side street west of the course. The older homes that once stood on those lots are now gone, removed to create acres of free parking that is clearly marked and decorated with all the class of the golf course itself.

Create your own environment

The National is so securely run it makes Disney feel unsafe. Stake out a prime spot next to your favorite green, set up your chair and leave. It will still be there when you get back. I’ve left my favorite sweater and even packages from the pro shop on my chair only to find them exactly where I left them when I returned. That’s peace of mind. Plus, the security checks at the main gate could school TSA on how to be faster and friendlier!

Always be true to to who you are

Through the years, many groups have tried to influence the National to do things differently. With almost aloof detachment, the organization has remained true to itself, refusing to be swayed. Sometimes they have even broadcasted the tournament commercial-free to ensure that sponsors weren’t put under pressure for the National’s decisions. Whether you agree or disagree with their positions, it’s hard to deny that the National has remained true to who they are.

Always put your best foot forward

Augusta natives live to tell each other rumors about how the course keeps its landscape so beautiful. Year after year, the beauty of the course seems to defy mother nature with its brilliant greens and stunning azaleas. A rumor that once circulated was that the course managed the time the flowers bloom by installing underground cooling tanks, turning them off to allow the plants to blossom on time for the tournament! Of course, the sheer number of plants makes this unlikely, but it’s hard to deny that Augusta knows how to turn out the best looking course in professional golf!

Happy Masters to golfer professionals, amateurs and everyone else! If you’re fortunate enough to have tickets, I’ll see you on the course!

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