The Orioles are located in Baltimore, which is also home to the NFB. If you aren't immediately aware of what that acronym stands for, don't worry, you're not alone. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) moved to Baltimore forty years ago.
Marking that 40th anniversary of the NFB, the Baltimore Orioles decided to do something incredible.
They became the first team in professional sports to wear braille jerseys, include braille roster cards, and to even televise their home team starting lineup entirely in braille.
On Sept. 18, we'll recognize the 40th anniversary of @NFB_voice moving their headquarters to Baltimore and become the first American professional sports team to incorporate Braille lettering into our gameday uniforms when we host National Federation of the Blind Night at OPACY. pic.twitter.com/vU8ZDlXGOr-- Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 5, 2018
While fans weren't able to actually touch the jerseys, this statement made a heartfelt and touching moment for many of the blind fans who were honored at the game.
Aside from being incredibly courageous and helping to raise awareness for a great cause, this gets to a deeper truth on how companies can do similar activities to build their brand as well as reach more audiences. After this move, the Baltimore Orioles now have a new cheering section, even as the worst team in baseball this year.
Not only is this a genius move by the Orioles, but something all business owners and entrepreneurs can learn from. Here are a few.
The best businesses don't always follow the money.
The idea that blind fans can only experience the game via radio broadcast makes them fringe customers at best. They definitely aren't a major contributor to the Orioles' box office numbers.
However, this was an ethically motivated and altruistic move that I think is going to pay off in the long run for the Orioles. For longtime fans of the team, it reinforces their loyalty and the reason they love them in the first place. For fans new to the mystery inside Camden Yards, former home of legend Cal Ripken Jr., this is just one more reason for them to support the team.
Even more widespread, this is a good look for Major League Baseball, who's fans now have access to bid on the signed game-used jerseys for between $300-$1,000.
As you'd expect, all proceeds go to support the NFB.
It's not always about how great your product is.
I run into so many entrepreneurs who can't stop talking about how great their product is or why their clients need them, but they gloss over the culture of the company and the positive impact it can have on how their customers view them.
As our culture seeks to raise awareness and inclusiveness for great causes, it's important we give recognition to people who are different than ourselves, even if we don't mention our product in the process.
The reality is that talented musicians, skilled lawyers, professionals, academics, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters are blind. By rallying around this cause, the impact reaches far wider than just baseball fans. It's a win-win for everyone involved.
Stand up for what you believe in and the customers will follow.
Nike's Kaepernick marketing campaign is a great example of a company that stood up for what it believed in. Of course, it was a calculated decision, but the employees behind the campaign truly believed in the cause, and business skyrocketed because of it.
As leaders, we need to ask how can we use our influence to move our cause along. Even if it's a risky move, it's a move that represents what your company believes in.
This is the predominant thinking of safe entrepreneurs. Some ad and marketing rooms would say braille has no place on a jersey, it doesn't seem to fit. However, the Orioles decided to take a risk, and I think their fans are reaping the reward.