Hashtag United, an example of effective modern branding

Hashtag United is an amateur football club formed in March 2016 by YouTube personality Spencer Owen, and it’s taking the football world by storm.

Managed and owned by Spencer and his brother, the club has branded itself in a way that no other club would dare to, and it’s certainly paying dividends as the squad attracts more fans to it’s content every week than there is at Premier League football matches.

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Spencer formed the club off the back of his existing reputation on YouTube due to creating content centred around the popular football video game FIFA. Using his fanbase, he formed a strategy that would challenge the conventional branding styles of football clubs, introducing this idea of a social club through the use of a ‘hashtag’ symbol in the club crest, a clever strategy that ensures they will always be spoken about as well as never forgotten.

You have to bare in mind that this isn’t simply an experiment in sports branding, through their popularity and potential, Spencer was able to form partnerships with some of the most powerful sponsors in sports such as Umbro, Xbox and EE which certainly build the foundations for a bright future.

Through the sponsorship of EE, the club were able to host the Wembley Cup and have been able to for the past couple of years. The game was pushed through both EE’s social channels and by Wembley Stadium where the event took place. Spencer Owen and his team of friends, as well as footballing legends such as Robert Pires, faced off against a team of fellow YouTube personalities in a game that was watched by 20,000 live, while over 3.9million tuned in through live broadcasts.

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So is this interactive, engagement and media oriented branding effective? A resounding yes is the answer. With the audience the club has amassed, if they played at a Premier League ground it certainly wouldn’t look too empty. This is down to the clever branding strategy that Spencer has put in place, using himself as an authoritative figure to initially promote the club before using branding techniques such as the club crest and prominence on social media to attract blue-chip companies to only further it’s reputation.

With YouTube continually growing, Hashtag United is likely to grow and the further they go up the leagues, the more sports fans will take note of them. Should the club ever get close to the semi-professional/professional leagues, it will no doubt be able to trump all it’s competitors off the field.

Currently, all games are organised and played at a secret location predominantly due to security issues, with Spencer’s personal YouTube channel subscribed to by over 1.7million fans, while Hashtag United’s twitter page boasts 92.7k followers. At the time of writing, Hashtag United’s most recent video has 430,000 views in just 48 hours.

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