Branding Lessons from the Olympic Games
Behind every Olympian is a story of sweat, blood and tears. Behind every brand is a history of late nights and skipped meals. There are as many failed brands as there are athletes who would never see the Olympic flames in person. Athletes put in countless hours to hone their skills, and brand managers struggle to hone their message and positioning. Nothing is as easy as it seems…
There are numerous lessons Marketers can learn from the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games celebrate team spirit, hard work, and dedication. However, only one thing can bring home the metals: performance. Likewise with brands, only one thing can move products. It’s nice to be green. It’s nice to be charitable. It’s nice to be social. However, the only thing that a brand is truly judged on is product performance. A green cleaner still has to be an effective cleaner. A friendly and responsive customer service team cannot regain the consumers who stopped buying a product because it doesn’t work.
However, that’s not to say that all the other things don’t matter. An athlete could be celebrated for showing good athleticism. A good corporate citizen is appreciated. Sadly, the goods are sometimes quickly forgotten, while the bads are practically written in the history books. Throughout the Games, commentators have a way of reminding us of a particular poor performance from a top performer / metal contender had in the past. Of course, something like doping could forever taint an athlete’s previously immaculate image. On this point, I have one word: Toyota.
In the end, the past and the future in these Games are all defined in one moment. A good practice could give you confidence at game time. A good start could carry you to a good finish. However, you could be perfect during practice. You could be the lead at the beginning of the race. It could all mean nothing in the end. For brands, everything we do comes down to one moment – the moment the shopper stands in front of the shelves. At that moment, are you giving your competitors an opportunity to persuade your shopper? Or have your hard work paid off, securing your spot on her shopping list and locking out your competitors? At that moment that counts, will you win?