Feted for winning trophies, Chelsea also aims to be recognised as the best in every other area of its business, including customer service, sponsorship and corporate social responsibility. The foundations for this are embodied in the club's brand values of excellence, style, leadership, integrity, pride and unity.
Offerings and values
The Chelsea FC brand aims to offer fans success, style, passion and loyalty, which are the values that underpin their relationship with the club. Chelsea's fundamental product and service is playing -- and selling tickets -- for first-team matches at Stamford Bridge, and for matches involving the club at other grounds.
So fan loyalty, and ultimately customer satisfaction, is dependent on the successful execution of this offering.
Allied to this is a series of competitive, innovative and modern services, which are designed to build on fans' affinity to the club. These range from the True Blue and Junior Blue membership packages with exclusive offerings, to financial services, merchandise and media packages combining traditional and new media.
Since 2004, Chelsea has developed a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, which is interwoven into stakeholder relationships. The key CSR initiative is a national charity partnership with CLIC Sargent, the UK's leading children's cancer charity. Chelsea engages all its players, management, staff, fans and partners in its activities with CLIC Sargent. In the 2004/05 season, Chelsea helped raise £1m for charities and good causes.
Innovations and promotions
Since the takeover by Roman Abramovich in 2003, the Chelsea brand has been transformed. Under the leadership of chief executive Peter Kenyon, there has been a high-profile rebranding around the core business of football. Previously Chelsea had diversified into other businesses such as hotels, restaurants, a travel company and a leisure club under the Chelsea Village identity. Now only the name Chelsea FC is used for business activities.
As this transformation was happening, the club's identity was also revolutionised. The unpopular club badge, introduced in the 1980s, was abandoned. Chelsea has returned to its original badge design from the 1950s, but this has been repositioned in a retro style to universal fan acclaim. This also had a key business function in terms of copyright and protection of marks in the international market.
Virtually every department was revamped and every major area of the business overhauled, from the first team and academy structure to ticketing, CRM, traditional media (match-day programmes, monthly magazines, TV), new media (website, mobile, online TV) and the sponsor/partnership programme. This has led to a whole host of modernised and innovative offerings, such as football's first financial portal, www.chelseafcmoney.com.
The accelerated development of Chelsea FC has only been possible against the backdrop of English football since the Premier League began in 1992. The English Premier League has become the most popular in world football, beamed every week to 195 countries, and two teams -- Manchester United and Arsenal -- had previously dominated. Simultaneously, the creation of the UEFA Champions League meant there were European rivals too, such as Barcelona, AC Milan, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
After the takeover of Chelsea FC by Abramovich in 2003, a period of rapid investment was needed in the football side of the club, not just to catch up, but to overtake its rivals as any vision was reliant on sustained success. The £400m-plus investment has since catapulted Chelsea onto a global level, but the club has never lost touch with its heritage.
Achievements and future prospects
Chelsea FC is experiencing an unprecedented period of success in its 100th season. In the past three seasons, Chelsea has become the most successful team in British football, with two successive Premiership titles garnered under the management of Jose Mourinho.
Without such a successful performance on the football field, Chelsea's ambitions to develop its brand as a world force would be impossible. The business plan is based on global visibility through traditional and new media penetration, market-leading sponsor partners, fan engagement and market legacy.
Going forward, Chelsea has identified three key target markets -- London, North America and Asia, specifically China -- which are all also vital markets to the club's partners, Samsung and adidas.
In these markets Chelsea has embarked on significant local partnerships. In London, Chelsea was the first Premiership team to back the 2012 Olympic bid and was recently nominated an official ambassador for London by the Mayor. In China, Chelsea is entering into a co-operation agreement with the Chinese Football Association and with the Asian Football Confederation. In America, there is an alliance with AEG, the operator of four teams in Major League Soccer and one of the world's leading sports and entertainment companies.
Things you didn't know
- Chelsea's UK fan base has grown from 1m to 3.8m in three years (Source: Sport+Markt).
- Chelsea's European fan base (including the UK) has grown from 10.6m to 19.2m in two years (Source: Sport+Markt).
- Chelsea has one of the largest 'Football in the Community' programmes in the Premiership, involving 200,000 children a year.
- Jose Mourinho is the Premier League's favourite manager worldwide (Source: Barclays worldwide fan survey).
- Chelsea had seven London-born players in its first-team squad (2005/06).
1905 Chelsea FC is founded.
1955 Chelsea wins the First Division title for the first time.
1970/71 Chelsea wins the FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup, repeating the same sequence in 1997 and 1998.
2003 Roman Abramovich buys Chelsea FC.
2004 Peter Kenyon, formerly of Manchester United, is appointed chief executive of Chelsea FC and recruits Jose Mourinho as manager.
2006 Of Chelsea's 24-man first-team squad, 16 were chosen to represent their countries at the 2006 World Cup, encompassing 10 different nationalities.
This article was first published on brandrepublic.com