Fishers S.P.O.R.T.S.: Brand Identity and Strategic Direction Project

IUPUI Grad Students Tackle Community Identity & Strategy


Graduate students in IUPUI's Applied Sport Event Research course collected data for the Fishers, Indiana-based Southeastern Program of Recreational Team Sports (S.P.O.R.T.S.) to help the organization better understand its brand positioning and assess different aspects of its identity in the community to determine if its strategic direction needs to be re-evaluated.

“I gave the students the challenge of evaluating the S.P.O.R.T.S. organization and our brand to gain an understanding of what our residents thought of the name, the logo, and their overall experience in the program,” said Scott Spillman, S.P.O.R.T.S. executive director.

Scott Spillman: S.P.O.R.T.S Executive Director Scott Spillman discusses the value of the research for his organization.

Description of the video:

Question:  What challenge did you want the students to attack this semester?

Spillman: So when I visited the students I gave them the challenge of evaluating the Sports organization, which is the recreational teams work organization in Fishers, and Evaluate our brand. I wanted to understand what our residents thought of the name, the logo, and our overall experience in programs.

Question: What were your initial reactions to what was presented today?

Spillman: My initial reactions were great. I was very impressed by the students efforts. I knew I was in constant communication with them on where they were throughout the project and I knew they were getting good data but we were really impressed with their recommendations and everything they did to give us a good presentation.

Question: What from the presentation excited you the most?

Spillman: I was most excited about their recommendations on what we should do in regards to our brand name and logo. It's been mentioned for a while that our organization should look into maybe refreshing the logo and even the name but it was great to hear that through the research, quantitative and qualitative, that people really wanted to see the name Fishers in our name so they can resonate a little bit better. Also that our logo hadn't been updated in a while and definitely needed some changes.

Question: What benefits do you see to having students work on a challenge like this?

Spillman: I think there's a great benefit for sport management students to be able to get involved and do projects like this. It's very common in my experience for brands, both endemic and other brands that sponsor sport in general, are always wanting to know this type of information. To be able to hold an extensive research study that was able to benefit the Youth Sports organization, one of the largest in the state of Indiana, there's a great Resume Builder but I'm sure they also learned a lot about the youth sports industry. It's over a billion dollar industry and there is a lot to be learned from all the different people that make it up.

Question: What would you say to others in the industry who are considering working with the Sports Innovation Institute?

Spillman: I would absolutely recommend any of my colleagues or similar organizations to seek the services of the sports Innovation Institute. Like I said before, I was blown away by all the hard work by the students, their professionalism, but also the data that they are able to present us. I think most organizations struggle, that are small in size, to be able to capture this and to be able to have a group of students who understand what they're doing and to be able to tie up a nice little bow and good presentation at the end that shows them the value of it. It really goes a long way.

Professor Jay Gladden discusses the value of market research for students.

Description of the video:

Question: How does a project like this impact the students and industry partners?

Gladden: Well, First of all market research can be a pretty dry subject unless you make it real. From a learning perspective the students are immediately taking what they're learning about market research and they're putting it in action simultaneously; so for the students they see what could be dry or not meaningful come to life when they’re actually working to solve or help organizations answers some questions or solve some problems. For the organizations, it's also a wonderful partnership with the Sports Innovation Institute at IUPUI because they’re getting so low cost no cost information that can help them in terms of decision making.

Question: What do you see as the most important element coming out of this project?

Gladden: For the sports organization, they were asking some pretty important questions about what people knew about the organization, what people thought about the organization, and we came to find out at the end of the presentation that they’ve talked about a lot of these different issues. Now they have evidence to support some of the changes that they wanted to make; whether it be thinking about how they actually communicate about who they are and what they stand for or what the website looks like, all the way down to how they communicate with their stakeholders.

Question: Is this the model envisioned for the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute?

Gladden: From the beginning, one of the key goals of the Institute was to engage students in partnership with industry on projects that would be mutually beneficial. And so having students coming through with interest in all sorts of different facets of the sports industry gives them great motivation to highly engage in these projects and put out an extremely professional work products.

Student Vijay Melwani discusses the value of learning about research.

Description of the video:

Question: How does a project like this impact the students and industry partners?

Melwani: The research was centered around sports organizations branding so we asked questions about what to do with the brand of the sports organization, to change the name, to change the logo, and what people thought about the brand of the sports organization.

Question: What was the most important recommendation your team made to the organization?

Melwani: I feel that the most important recommendation we can give the sports organization is to get more organized and get more communicative with each other across all the leagues. To make sure that there is a common standard across all the sports and under the same sports umbrella. I think that if they do that, all the reviews will be positive going forward.

Question: How Important do you believe this type of project is for IUPUI students?

Melwani: This is how I love the education. The education system should be to actually work with real-life issues and not just read articles and write reflections on it. This is hands-on, really intense education. There’s a huge learning process for this and I love it.