The Role of Team-Sponsor Logo Color Congruity in Sponsorship Effectiveness: An Abstract
Sports remains one of the few avenues for brands to reach mass market consumers in the context of a fragmented, on-demand, and commercial-free (e.g., Netflix) modern entertainment landscape. Accordingly, branding expenditures on sponsorship are growing faster than traditional advertising as brands seek to gain sports fans’ favor through visual signs of support for fans’ teams. The authors investigate the visual design element of color in sponsorship images. Study 1 matches 703 Major League Baseball fans’ evaluations of their team’s sponsors to observable characteristics of in-stadium sponsorship signage, which provides correlational evidence that fans evaluate a sponsor more positively when its colors coincidentally match the team. Furthermore, a brand without an inherent match to a team’s colors can enjoy even greater sponsorship efficacy by adopting the team’s colors. The peripheral cue from color congruence facilitates affect transfer, and created congruence—adopting the team’s colors—provides a further boost through fan appraisals of sponsor’s support. Study 2 offers experimental evidence from 200 fans who sampled a sports drink with brand team cobranding on the label in the brand logo’s original colors or the team’s colors. In the condition where the brand’s sincerity of support was uncertain, color change improved fans’ evaluation of the sponsorship, and perceived sincerity of support mediated the positive impact of created color congruence. While prior studies have shown that sponsorship fails to deliver positive returns (Mazodier & Rezaee, 2013) or works poorly in a lab experiment based on eye tracking when sponsor’s signage color matches the colors of the sport (Breuer & Rumpf, 2015), the current studies offer complementary real-world evidence that sponsor brands can enjoy greater sponsorship success without adding much cost by simply selecting teams to sponsor where they share colors or by adopting the team’s colors.