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Branding and Football: Can’t Win if Offense Can’t Take the Field

Branding and Football: Can’t Win if Offense Can’t Take the Field

I play indoor tennis in a men’s doubles league on Thursday nights. As a result, I DVR’d the Denver Broncos – San Diego Chargers game. I knew I’d probably hear the score before leaving the tennis facility since they have several TVs there, but I still expected to go home and watch a recording of the prolific Broncos offense putting a beatdown on the Chargers defense. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the Broncos LOST THE GAME! When I glanced at the stats, and saw the time of possession, I “kinda” yelled:

You can’t win if your offense can’t take the field!

The Chargers possessed the football for almost 39 minutes compared to 21 minutes for the Denver Broncos. One of the best ways to beat a Peyton Manning offense is to keep that offense off the field!

Since I’m always on the lookout for a good sports analogy to teach a business lesson, it wasn’t hard to make the following Lambeau Leap: If brands are constantly defending their shortcomings, they can never take the offensive with their own innovations. They consume their human and financial resources explaining “why”, or putting out customer experience “fires”, versus using those same resources to push the envelope and capture market share.

Every brand needs a good defense!

I’m a big fan of active social media monitoring as a component of brand reputation management. Every brand needs a good defense in this era of the socially savvy  - and often vocal – consumer. These consumers are no longer dialing the 800 number to reach your customer service department, and they are not taking the time to fill out those surveys that you can pull “behind the curtain”. Instead, they are giving their unsolicited, uncut opinions on their favorite social channels. Ignore, or be oblivious to, this sentiment about your brand at your own peril!

“Your customers are already talking about you. The fact that you aren’t participating is your implicit endorsement of whatever it is they are saying.” ~ Dave Evans, Social Media Marketing – An Hour a Day.

So let’s say you use social media monitoring to find these mentions of your brand, and then you respond to these vocal consumers “in kind” on their preferred social channel. You now have a good defense, but when does your offense take the field again? in my opinion, each of these consumer interactions gives us a chance to tighten the feedback loop! We should use this unsolicited feedback to fine-tune our service offerings or spark new ideas in product development. In fact, we can take steps to make our offense more effective by actively soliciting feedback from an already engaged and passionate community.

So how do you get your offense back on the field?

  1. Invest in a good defense

Put the right tools, processes, and HUMAN resources in place to defend your brand. You need all three of these components to be successful! Sam Fiorella recently wrote a great post titled The New Marketing Trend You Must Pay Attention To, and I especially appreciated the last paragraph:

“Of course, without a corporate culture that embraces the operational and human resource changes required to become real-time, no amount of technology will have a significant impact on the bottom line. In fact, it will only serve to frustrate personnel and processes, which will result in a negative impact on the bottom line…”

  1. If your defense isn’t cutting it, bring the blitz

You can’t win if you can’t score, and you generally can’t score if you can’t get your offense into the game! I recently wrote a blog post titled 4 Business Lessons from the NFL Blitz Package. In addition to stressing the need for active monitoring, and appropriate processes and human resources, it also encouraged readers to look for turnover opportunities and openings to disrupt competitors and the industry. Quit being reactive (defensive) – start dictating YOUR style of play (offensive)!

Does your favorite football team have trouble getting the defense off the field, so the offense can get chances to score? Does your brand have a defensive mindset, that is always throwing resources at the latest fire, or is your brand imposing its will on the market place? Join the discussion in the comment section below.

Photo Credit: In the huddle, Broncos vs Steelers 2012 by Craig Hawkins, on Flickr

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and now grandsons! I am blessed in that I also love my job as a VP of Enterprise Solutions for ProKarma. I appreciate the convergence of big data and data visualization in our Pulse Analytics social listening and analytics platform as well as our core software / mobile app development, business intelligence, and test automation services. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin. You can find Brian on .

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2 Comments

  1. Brian loved how you used your passion to teach your lesson. Now to see if businesses identify with the very simple analogy. 

    Do you think they can be honest enough with themselves to admit they are playing too much defense?

    • prosperitygal In some cases, no. They either get risk-averse as they become more static, or they take the “go with what brought you here” too far…and simply never innovate.

      If all you play is defense, you eventually lose…just slowly (provided you have a good defense).