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?