When employees arrive to work at their Bristol, Connecticut Headquarters, they are greeted only by a small, unassuming sign that says, “Welcome to ESPN. ” In a calculated and understated way, this sign is representative of the culture that pervades throughout the organization. Simply stated, ESPN, the company is about the fans and the sports, not ESPN. This statement offers a preview of sorts to a culture at ESPN that truly goes the extra mile in emphasizing customer satisfaction by offering its programming thru state-of the art program offerings thru multiple channels.
A brand promise sums up the essence and meaning of a brand and how the brand connects to its consumers. ESPN’s promise of delivering “Sports, with Authority and Personality,” clearly outlines what they do, how they do it and what differentiates them from their competition. With respect to Sports, ESPN connects to its fans through many platforms, including multiple television and radio programs, internet applications including television online, restaurants, and numerous mobile applications.
In doing so ESPN strives to consistently deliver unmatched quality that is strengthened by leadership and innovation. As an Authority in sports programming, ESPN emphasizes integrity, authenticity and expertise that is unparalleled in the industry. Regarding Personality, ESPN emphasizes throughout its organization, the effective use of humor, passion and community by expressing their affinity for its fans regardless of origin.
While the brand promise of ESPN is certainly evident throughout all of its programming through all of its delivery channels, it is its hiring practices that appear to give the most obvious credence to the company living up to this promise. From its inception ESPN maintained a policy of hiring employees that were/are first and foremost sports fanatics. ESPN saw sees this as a critical factor in having its employees display the level of enthusiasm and knowledge that it wanted to promote and display its brand promise.
They also see this as an equalizer of sorts whereby everyone who views ESPN, regardless of race, color education could relate with one another. Anthony Smith, a management consultant who has worked with ESPN for over 20 years and author of ESPN; The Company, sums up the environment and culture at ESPN best when he wrote; “I can think of few other companies that do as good a job of creating an atmosphere of fun and excitement for its people and its customers – maybe Southwest Airlines in the airline industry, Starbucks in the consumer goods space, or Apple and Google in high-tech.
But it’s hard to surpass ESPN. ” (Smith, P. xxiii, ESPN; The Company. ) This information, combined with information gathered through direct conversations with ESPN Marketing employees would strongly indicate that ESPN has done an outstanding job of entrenching its brand promise both internally amongst its work-force and externally through its broadly scoped programming. From an internal branding perspective ESPN appears to have achieved what all companies strive for; to entrench its vision and culture that pervades throughout everything it does.