Manchester United vs. Manchester City: Which is the stronger brand?

Beyond the Pitch: Red Devils vs Citizens - A Battle for Brand Supremacy

Move over, Erik ten Hag and Pep Guardiola!

Today, we're stepping off the ground and into the boardroom for a brand battle unlike any other.

We're dissecting the Manchester Derby through the lens of marketing, analyzing how these two Premier League giants cultivate their brands and engage their passionate fanbases.

Let’s begin!

Manchester United: The Storied Giant

  1. A Legacy Built on Legends: Manchester United boasts a rich tapestry of history, woven with iconic players like George Best and Eric Cantona, unforgettable moments like the 1999 treble, and a global fanbase steeped in tradition. This heritage fosters an unparalleled sense of community and belonging for fans, creating a powerful emotional connection. The Red Devils have a fandom unlike any other.

  1. Influencer Marketing Potential: United can leverage their legendary alumni and iconic moments. I can totally imagine a campaign featuring former players like David Beckham or Paul Scholes alongside new-age stars like Marcus Rashford, promoting club merchandise or upcoming matches. This strategy bridges the gap between generations, igniting nostalgia in older fans while engaging younger demographics with fresh content.

  2. Real-World Example: Take a look at how the NBA's Golden State Warriors successfully leveraged influencer marketing. They partnered with YouTube influencers like Dude Perfect to create trick shot challenges featuring Warriors jerseys and team highlights. This campaign resonated with a younger audience while promoting the Warriors brand.

  3. Nostalgia Can Be a Double-Edged Sword: While United's history is a treasure trove, overreliance on past glories can be a pitfall. Marketing campaigns can sometimes feel overly sentimental, failing to resonate with younger audiences who crave fresh narratives and interactive experiences.

Manchester City: The Tech-Savvy Upstart

Embracing the Future: Manchester City operates with a forward-thinking approach. They actively engage fans on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, utilizing innovative trends and challenges to keep fans glued to their content. Their ‘Cityzens’ app offers interactive experiences like AR filters and exclusive content, fostering a sense of community and exclusivity.

Influencer Marketing Potential: City's embrace of technology perfectly aligns with influencer marketing strategies. Partnering with tech-savvy influencers who resonate with younger demographics could be a game-changer. Imagine a campaign featuring popular gaming streamers like NickEh30 or social media personalities like Khaby Lame promoting City's mobile app or showcasing training sessions through interactive live streams.

Building a Narrative for the Future: City's meteoric rise to prominence has been impressive, but their rapid ascent means they lack the historical depth of United. This can make it harder to cultivate the same emotional connection with fans who crave a deeper narrative beyond trophies and financial muscle.

Lessons Learned for Both Clubs:

United: Honor Your Legacy, Embrace Innovation: ManU needs to strike a balance between celebrating their glorious past and embracing the future. Influencer marketing can bridge the gap by partnering with legendary figures alongside rising stars to create fresh content that resonates with all generations.

City: Forge Your Identity, Connect with the Roots: City's modern approach is commendable, but building a stronger emotional connection requires a deeper narrative. Partnering with influencers who embody the spirit of Manchester and connect the club's brand with the city's rich footballing heritage can solidify their identity and forge a lasting bond with fans.

Fresh off the heels for a FA Cup win for United and a historic premier league title for City, it’s clear that these two clubs are going nowhere.

But really, the Manchester Derby extends beyond the roar of the crowd and the fight for trophies. It's a battle for brand supremacy, where each club offers valuable lessons. Manchester United, the power of a rich legacy, balanced with innovation. Manchester City, the importance of embracing the future, intertwined with a powerful narrative.

We use insightIQ to analyse the Instagram accounts, and thereby, the online fandoms of both of these giants, via our new YouTube series.

The results may surprise you. Make sure you’ve subscribed!

Until then,

See ya!

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