The biggest sporting event of the year is upon us. Overindulgence of delectable snacks, cheesy dips, multiple libations, and being over-stimulated by 30-second commercials are all on tap. However, it’s worth the time to think about what we can learn from “The Big Game”. Is your brand like the Denver Broncos® or the Carolina Panthers®?
THE BRAND OF THE BRONCOS: The Denver Broncos; enter as the “Mature”, tried & true, traditional brand. Chalk full of veteran leadership with the classic prototypical pocket passer, Peyton Manning, and Hall of Fame quarterback turned NFL executive, John Elway. The Broncos have a rich history of sustained success in the league with winning seasons, deep playoff runs, and Super Bowl appearances. They’ve taken bold yet calculated risks, signing on an aging Peyton Manning, which wound up paying off for the franchise quite well with 2 Super Bowl appearances in the last 3 years. One might say the Broncos blueprint has it positioned as a “best in class” franchise.
Despite this strong track record, the future is murky. The Sherriff’s “last rodeo” seems imminent. So what’s next? Who can take the reins? Can the team sustain excellence without it’s HOF play caller? Can they remain relevant in the “New NFL?”
THE BRAND OF THE PANTHERS: Now let’s turn our attention to the Carolina Panthers; they enter the game on the young, emerging start-up phase of the brand life cycle. A young franchise (relatively speaking) - with some success since entering the league 21 years ago. However, their dedication to excellence has been inconsistent at best. This season though, the Panthers have been utterly dominant. Franchise QB Cam Newton, has come of age and to many is being described as “how the position should be played in the future”. The team as a whole is full of energy and extremely creative in their offensive and defensive schemes. What’s more, they have electrified their fans, and found ways to instantly give back to the community with every score.
The flip side of “Brand Carolina”; they are entering unchartered territory as well as having limited experience of winning and being the focal team of the league. Their bold actions and messages rub a lot of people the wrong way. The big question, like any emerging brand, is if what they are doing this year is sustainable, or are they a waning fad?
There are dozens of parallels these teams have with brands in the marketplace today. Regardless of which end of the spectrum of your brand falls, there are 5 key lessons to remember:
1. Play your game – Brands that try to be something they are not, will find it hard to fake it for long, and consumers will sense the phoniness. You should stay true to yourself and your brand promise.
2. Build Your Strategic Plan to mitigate your weaknesses - Your Brand may be in the Super Bowl today, but what does the future look like? What action steps do you need to take today to ensure your band is relevant 3 years from now?
3. Bring your fans along for the ride - Your consumers (aka Fans) are your most important asset. You should find ways to surprise and delight them every chance you get to build long-term loyalty.
4. Learn from your competition - While your Brand might not be on the cutting edge of the category, learning new approaches from start-ups can be a great way to bake innovation into your culture.
5. Don’t be afraid to take risks - Regardless if you are a well-established brand or an emerging one, you need to step out of your comfort zone and take risks. While it may not always work out, you may just find yourself in the Super Bowl.