Tiger, Branding and Shadows

I suspect the conventional wisdom is that Tiger Woods was the perfect case study in branding until just a few days ago.

I’d like to propose that he’s potentially a more useful if bothersome, case study now than he was then.

Most branding is still obsessed with idealisation, creating notions of perfection and excellence, fuelled by aspiration. The trouble with such fixations is this: what do we do when we can’t live up these ideals? The likelihood is, in most cases, that we’ll use denial. First a little, and then a lot. We might get away with it, but in our hyper-networked world it’s more likely that the facade will crack and get noticed.

I wonder about the discussions taking place now inside companies who have – lazily, in my view – promoted themselves by suggesting they share Tiger’s qualities. Are they, as I would fear, simply counting the cost and wondering who they should pick as their new shiny icon?

Or might they think more deeply about the dangers of narcissism – not for their hired celebrities, but for themselves?

3 thoughts on “Tiger, Branding and Shadows

  1. Anne McCrossan

    Very well put Johnnie. I can’t help but think that perfection is for the gods and the fact that the transparency of connected communications is blowing a hole through that stance for mere mortals, celebrated ones, or otherwise, can only be a good thing.

    Many a business plan attempts to mitigate against reality because of a lack of confidence in the authentic corporate self. Blatant integrity, which can enable the scope for moments of truth, wherever they come from, and better relationships, can help engender a more human approach to doing good business that more people can connect to, flaws and all.

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  2. Ian Glendinning

    Very interesting. I’m dealing with a hype vs reality branding situation right now, and this is so true.

    In a “business development” phase any branding tends to be hyped, to generate commitment and funding behind the scenes, and “expectations are managed” (euphemistically) behind the secenes.

    The problem is that when the development nears “success” – significant risk of actual business take-up – the stakes are raised and people grab and latch onto the brand(s) that have now become associated with the apparent success – and the expectation mismatch goes into “denial” as you put it.

    When managing expectations becomes managing communications – the stress (and trust) in the hyper-connected world can crack with a vengeance. Tell me about it.

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  3. BrianSJ

    “There is hope in honest error; none in the icy perfections of the mere stylist”. Charles Rennie Mackintosh

    Very good post (one of many here).

    Reply

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