Why Your Offense Needs A Brand

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By Tom Brankin, Offensive Coordinator, Highland High School in Highland, Ind., Author & Blogger for his website: CoachBranks.com

Whether you run Shotgun Wing-T, Air Raid or Wishbone, your offense needs a brand. If you don’t have one, you’re missing an opportunity to help raise your offense to another level!

Think about it. Our student-athletes are constantly hit with corporate branding that communicates the expectations that they can expect from goods and services. When they see the Apple logo or hear an Apple commercial, they immediately associate Apple with style, creativity and innovation. And Apple consistently delivers the same message over and over! Why shouldn’t we take advantage of this kind of power by branding our offense?

My opinion is that branding is even more important if you’re a Shotgun Wing-T team. A traditional Wing-T team easily identifies itself as power football. But what about Shotgun Wing-T? Does your Shotgun Wing-T team portray power football or is it more of the spread variety that runs a few Wing-T plays?

I’ve had the opportunity to trade film with some Shotgun Wing-T coaches and, in some instances, I’m shocked that they call themselves Shotgun Wing-T at all! Just because you run buck sweep four times and chuck it 40 times per game doesn’t mean you’re a Shotgun Wing-T team!

A little research into branding reveals hundreds of “keys” to branding. Every marketing consultant has his or her keys to successful branding. As a business consultant during my day job, it got me thinking about what’s important to my offense’s brand.

So, here are my keys to a successful offensive brand:

Your brand identifies with your core values – Your brand must directly reflect your core values as a coach!  If you are conservative by nature and believe in 3 yards and a cloud of dust, then your brand can’t be wide open offense, 100 yards by 53 yards. If you’re aggressive by nature and like to live on the edge, then traditional power-I isn’t your bag! Seems like a simple concept. All it requires is for you to look in the mirror. I believe in tough offensive football that can grind it out when times and opponents get tough!

Your brand works in your environment – Here in Northwest Indiana, there’s a good chance that we’re going to play more than a few of our games in cold, wet, rainy or snowy conditions that aren’t the best for high school quarterbacks with small hands. So, do I want to hang my hat on an offense that drops back 90 percent of the time?  I don’t!

If I was in warmer climate, maybe. But, make sure your brand can thrive in your locale!  I have to have an offense that can succeed and thrive in the ground game in inclement weather on natural grass!

The brand works with your student-athletes – If you’re at a public school like I am, we can’t recruit like the private schools. I have to have a system that I can coach to the athletes who walk in the door from year to year. Whereas, if I knew I could attract a 6’3″ golden arm and fast, skilled receivers, I might be more inclined to run a wide-open offense.  We’re a medium-sized public school and I think I’ll always be able to teach linemen and I don’t want to have to depend on super-skilled players walking in the door!

Your brand has to be consistently communicated – If you’ve figured it out, let everyone else know what your brand is! Again, this sounds like common sense, but don’t assume that everyone on your staff or in your locker room knows your brand.  As a matter of fact, ask them and listen to their answers. Ask your coach friends to describe your offense. If their answers aren’t consistent with your vision, then you aren’t communicating your brand consistently enough. Do you reinforce your brand with the style of offense that you run? Does your playbook reflect your brand? Do you stress your brand in team meetings? Do you measure statistics that give weight to your brand?  We make trap, buck and down our first installations. We also measure yards per carry and yards per drive.

By now, you’re probably wondering what’s my brand.  We are a Tough Shotgun Wing-T Team! I feel like Shotgun Wing-T allows us to run the traditional Wing-T plays from multiple formations that utilize the quarterback as an additional running back and, also puts the defense in conflict 53 yards wide. We’ll throw when the opportunities (and weather) present themselves! But, when it comes time for the rubber to meet the road, everything we do is driven by our ability to run the ball!

Tom Brankin is the Offensive Coordinator at Highland High School in Highland, Ind. They are a Class 4A (6A is largest) and play in the competitive Northwest Crossroads Conference in NW Indiana. Brankin is a believer in Wing-T and the benefits the offense offers a football team. In 2014, he implemented the Shotgun Wing-T while staying true to traditional Wing-T Offense from various formations.

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