Jeff Berding, FC Cincinnati’s President, joined Vehr for a conversation with CMOs and CCOs from well-known Cincinnati-based brands as part of our ongoing Caffeinated Connections: Brand Builders Breakfast events.
Founded just six years ago as a minor league USL (United Soccer League) team, FC Cincinnati just started its 3rd season as one of the newest MLS (Major League Soccer) teams in North America and as one of Cincinnati’s newest global brands. While among the elite in the USL, it has yet to impress soccer aficionados at the MLS level. Nearly every fan and Cincinnatian believe it is just a matter of time.
While Berding may not be a professional marketer, he is a passionate leader of an organization that matters to its consumers. To create the foundation for a strong brand, he and the team owners knew they needed five things from the start:
- A strong and patient local ownership. They secured it.
- An experienced professional sports management team. They attracted it.
- A professional caliber venue with suites, club seats and top-shelf amenities. They delivered at UC’s Nippert Stadium and now, with one of the world’s best soccer-only facilities, TQL Stadium.
- The ability to pass the “eye test” in terms of a quality product on the field of play. They were among the elite in the USL and know they soon must begin winning in the MLS.
- A relevant sports brand in the Cincinnati market … success on the pitch, a family-friendly experience and tangible investments in our community. Check. Check. And, check.
FC Cincinnati has now entered its third season in the MLS, the highest level of professional soccer in America and on par with the NFL, MLB and NBA. While indicating that being competitive and winning matches are, of course, driving objectives for the club, he also shared goals that are worthy of any Cincinnati-based global brand:
- To be the manifestation of civic pride in this region.
- To accept the obligation to lead, inspire and unite.
- To nod to Cincinnati’s proud heritage.
Jeff Berding may be a sports leader, but he understands his brand and what it takes to be successful. He understands that the promise of FC Cincinnati goes beyond wins and losses, but lifts up Cincinnati by inspiring youth soccer growth, encouraging excellence from us all and having a profound positive impact on the neighborhood in which its magnificent new TQL Stadium resides.
I am convinced the wins will come for Cincinnati’s MLS soccer club. I am even more convinced FC Cincinnati is a global brand of consequence for our community.