The sports industry is one of constant change and adaptation, full of opportunity and expansion. For Charlotte startup ISL, a global, full-service sports management and marketing agency ingrained in international soccer, its expansion into new markets has redefined its opportunity.
ISL is now expanding into a more national and international role in Miami, focusing on its multicultural market.
“We had simply outgrown our original brand and felt it was time for ISL to make a bold statement about our global presence,” said Marc Segarra, a co-founder and managing partner, about the rebrand and expansion in Miami.The agency — which believes it has a big connection between the USA, Latin America, and Europe — began in 2012 primarily working on youth events with a feeder system to FC Barcelona, and soon began expanding and developing new clients to further its mission.
As a full-service agency, ISL prides itself as a young, innovative staffing committed to creative and strategic excellence for the athletes and brands it works with.
“What we show is strength in taking a brand or foreign athlete, and applying and listening to what they want,” said Tim Bailey, director of business development. “We can penetrate the American market, especially on the soccer side — and penetrate markets in which athletes and brands have struggled in.”
Segarra and Bailey believe their early, rapid rate of growth soon led to the serious consideration of repositioning the brand as a better way to tell their story.
“We’d eventually outgrown our original brand because of the success we’d been fortunate to achieve. The professional experiences and improvements we’d provided in the American soccer landscape were paying off,” said Bailey. “As time rolled on, our vision for the growth of the American soccer market was becoming a reality, and we were ready to take the brand and it’s execution to the next level.”
Soccer in the United States has been on the rise over the years and mild World Cup success in 2014 has certainly spurred the involvement and viewership. But simply watching soccer does not exude the necessary ingredient for sustainability.
According to USA Today, globalization and technology have lifted viewership of the beautiful game in the States. Widely popular in metropolitan areas, fans have an easy link to the popular athletes through social media and expansive culture — something ISL harps on for expansion. The inclusion of international stars to the MLS and American culture bridges the gap, as well.
“The success we’ve had in helping grow different brands in the U.S. soccer market has opened up doors to work with numerous world-class clients, like Luis Suarez, Rob Gronkowski, and the Dos Santos brothers,” said Segarra. “Those opportunities helped us recognize how much we’ve grown with the market in the United States, and that attributed to the rebrand.”People are at the core of ISL’s mission, and applying unique and creative strategies for their clients sets them up for success.
“The key differentiating factors in execution over the years have been the ability to take a brand, team, or organization and have them be successful in markets that they’ve previously had difficulty navigating,” said Segarra. “We seek to go beyond a client’s brand. We engage their passion, their spirit, and what’s really important to them. The relationship goes deeper than simple brand growth.”
Having a newer, more relatable brand image helps open up the conversation to new clients who have trouble tapping into specific markets, and Miami presents the best opportunity to attract larger clients and increase their ever-expansive role in a global market.
Built from the ground up, ISL continues to carry that same mindset as clients and markets expand.
“Everything has a foundational base built with empathy and understanding, and it allows any client’s or customer’s success to be more attainable in the long term,” said Segarra. “And that’s what we care about.”