The First Steps: Creating an FRC Team Brand
You might not know it, but your FIRST Robotics team already as a brand. The people and teams around you already have a preconceived notion about what your team is like, whether that is good or bad.
Creating a brand for your FIRST Robotics is so important because it can increase your credibility with everyone around you and can be a segway to future positive publicity. Why do you think the The Cheesy Poofs are popular? Well, one thing is because they have an awesome brand; they have an awesome team identity.
There has been many rookie teams that I have seen that have absolutely nailed it when it comes to team image and team branding. These rookie teams have downright impressed me and everyone around them with their consistency, professionalism, and attention to detail; their number says rookies, but their brand says veteran. And your team should strive to do the same.
To have a great FIRST Robotics brand, you first have to assess your team: discover its core values, culture, and the public’s perception of it. It’s extremely important to be very realistic when it comes to assessing these things. Keep your mind open when you go through these steps and make sure you ask your fellow teammates what they think. Or if you're a mentor, make sure you ask the students and their parents how they perceive the team.
As an example, FRC Team 610 has a great brand. How do you perceive them?
First: Discover what the team’s core values are. Take a look at what the team wants to achieve in FIRST Robotics. What is the goal of the team? Does the team strive for something more than building a robot? What constitutes the team’s success? How can it be achieved? Examine your team and ask why yourself, “Why are we participating in FIRST?” Once you have answered this question, right it down, and show everyone on the team and remind them of why they are all there. This will begin to help the team formulate the brand. Finding the core values of the team naturally leads to finding the team’s culture.
Second, observe your team and how the students act with each other. More specifically, what is the team culture? It’s important to know who your team is, how they act, what they like, and how they communicate. This ultimately helps you get a sense of who the team is as a whole: you want to brand to reflect that.
There are also certain things that each student brings to the team that you need to assess and know about. Some students love the build team, others love multimedia team. Knowing who likes what and who is passionate about a certain area will help you better utilize the team so you can build a well-oiled machine, which in return reflects the team’s brand and culture.
Finally, consider how other FIRSTers and the public view your team. Is your team consistent? Do you say one thing and do the other? When your team is mentioned in a conversation, what do others think and say about? Do they think of high quality work or do they think your team is average? These are all questions you and your team need to answer to help develop your brand. Because if your team is not perceived as like you want it to be, that means its time for some change.
These three steps are the first steps in creating a team brand. Focus on each one of these steps deeply and reflect on them. If you do that, your team will be on its way to creating a positive team brand.