Brand Champions: 4 Winning Lessons from Marketing Students and Mustang Athletes 

Brand Champions: 4 Winning Lessons from Marketing Students and Mustang Athletes 

Table of Contents

  • Precious
  • March 13, 2024

In the staffing industry’s cutthroat world, standing out is tough. Many struggle to find ways to make their mark and attract top talent. But here’s an inspiring story: at a leading U.S. university, a class is changing the game by helping local athletes build their personal brands. And the best part? Their success holds valuable lessons for staffing firms like yours.  

Read on to discover just how these students managed to become rock-solid brand champions and steal their branding secrets for your staffing firm. 

The Cal Poly Story 

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) is one of California’s oldest polytechnics, founded in 1901 and led by Jeffrey Armstrong. Notable alumni like James Madden and Weird Al Yankovic have added to its renown.  

In a cool move, Randy Rovegno, former VP of Marketing for CBS and Fox News, leads a senior-level marketing class at Cal Poly. What’s the twist? He’s hooking up Mustang athletes with local businesses to craft killer marketing campaigns. 

But here’s the kicker: Rovegno isn’t just teaching marketing; he’s empowering college athletes to cash in on their personal brands. Traditionally, NCAA rules kept athletes from profiting, but with the ban lifted in 2021, it’s game on. However, at Cal Poly, where resources aren’t as deep as bigger schools, scoring these opportunities can be tough.  

That’s where Rovegno’s Athlete Lab comes in. He’s created a sweet setup to help Mustang athletes monetize their game beyond the field. This savvy move connects student-athletes with dope opportunities and showcases the power of collaboration in boosting personal brands. 

Why Cal Poly’s Brand Strategy Works 

Here’s what made them so successful: 

  • Expert Leadership – Led by Professor Randy Rovegno, drawing from over thirty years of branding and marketing experience with renowned brands like ESPN and Disney, the Athlete Lab benefits from seasoned guidance, setting the stage for success. 
  • Strategic Analysis – The Athlete Lab doesn’t leave success to chance. Through comprehensive SWOT analyses for each athlete, they identify key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This strategic approach ensures tailored branding strategies that deliver results, both on and off the field. 
  • Hands-On Learning -It’s all about getting hands-on. Marketing students dive into roles such as account managers, project executives, and content creators, gaining invaluable real-world experience in brand advocacy. This practical approach not only fosters professional growth but also instills strategic thinking from day one. 
  • Team Development -The Cal Poly Story isn’t just about individual triumphs; it’s about cultivating a culture of teamwork and collaboration. By nurturing talent among Mustang Athletes and marketing students alike, Cal Poly equips them to be brand champions in their respective fields, driving success for years to come. 

Brand Champions: 4 Winning Lessons to Up Your Branding Game 

Your staffing firm might only be an intermediary between talent and businesses that need them, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need good branding. Here are four winning strategies to up your branding game; 

1. Niche Down 

Just as Cal Poly’s Athlete Lab tailors branding and messaging to each athlete’s strengths, staffing firms can tailor their branding to reflect their unique expertise and the specific needs of their niche. Maybe your firm specializes in IT talents, or perhaps you’re the go-to for healthcare staffing.  

Niching down attracts a steady stream of clients and candidates who recognize your ability to cater to their specific needs. 

It differentiates you from the competition and helps you connect with the audience who needs you. Tailor your branding, messaging, and of course, your area of expertise to this niche, and this will help you stand out in an oversaturated market. 

2. Leverage Social Media 

Social media isn’t just a platform for sharing cat memes anymore; it’s a powerful tool for shaping your staffing firm’s brand identity and connecting with your audience in meaningful ways. Say your firm specializes in placing creative professionals in advertising agencies.  

In leveraging social media, you can craft an online persona that speaks directly to the creative community. Share behind-the-scenes glimpses of agency life, showcase successful placements, and provide valuable tips for aspiring creatives. 

Blend your brand’s tangible elements, such as brand colors and typography, with its intangible attributes, such as its vision and ideologies, gives your firm the strong online presence needed to build a loyal audience. 

3. Develop Strategic Partnerships 

Another easy way to build a strong credible brand is simply to partner with other strong, credible brands within your niche. Two businesses can capitalize on one another’s audiences, with both hitting the set objectives laid out for their partnership.  

But strategic partnerships aren’t limited to direct competitors; they can also involve complementary businesses such as training providers. A training provider might provide your firm with skilled talent, while you provide it with publicity. This arrangement is entirely up to you and your business needs, so long as it’s mutually beneficial to all organizations involved. 

Related Reading: All-In or Outsource: Find the Perfect Marketing Fit for Your Staffing Firm 

4. Put a Premium on Your Candidates 

Unsurprisingly, your candidates’ perception of your firm can go a long way to make or break the image of your business. It’s important to prize a good candidate’s experience and ensure that each professional who interacts with your company on any level comes away feeling pleased.  

Keep communication between your firm and potential candidates constant and clear throughout the recruitment process. Also, optimize your recruitment process to keep delays and other inefficiencies at a minimum. Offering constructive feedback to rejected candidates will also help lift your company image, as this shows that you truly value their interest in your firm. 

Turning Your Employees Into Brand Champions 

Another stellar way to keep your brand image pristine is to get your employees to advocate for it! When you’re building a business worth taking note of, it only makes sense for the individuals in that company to be as proud of it as you are.  

Training and Education 

Want to see your employees exhibit a certain kind of behavior? Teach them to do so first. Organize trainings, workshops, and seminars where employees are coached on your firm’s brand image, voice, and personality, and their role in perpetuating this image in the eyes of the general public.  

You can organize interactive sessions where your employees practice exhibiting your brand’s values and culture in real-life situations. This lets your workers know exactly what to do to represent your brand properly, and how to do it well. 

Create a Rewards System 

Positive reinforcement is a highly effective way to encourage good behavior. Therefore, whenever your workers act in line with your firm’s brand values or represent your brand positively, you should set a system in place that rewards this behavior to signal that they keep doing it.  

There are multiple ways to do this; one of them being implementing a peer-to-peer reward system. This will allow your employees to nominate one another for a reward if they notice positive behavior in their peers and will not only be effective in turning your workers into world-class brand champions but eventually culminate into a positive work environment. 

Lead By Example 

This is perhaps the most important step in building solid brand champions out of your workers. Make sure your actions as a leader align with the brand’s mission, vision, and voice at all times. This kind of transparent leadership builds loyalty in your workers towards you and will keep them proudly flying the colors of your business without being asked to. 


Take a cue from Cal Poly and revamp your firm’s marketing strategy. Feeling overwhelmed? No worries—Allied Insight is here to lighten your load. We specialize in delivering full-scale marketing solutions tailored just for staffing firms like yours, aiming to boost your brand’s visibility and set you apart in a bustling market.  

From developing standout branding strategies to rolling out dynamic digital marketing efforts, we’re on it. Reach out to us today to uncover the ways we can transform your staffing firm into an industry leader, effortlessly. 


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