Lessons from a failing quarterback on how to differentiate your brand.

By Luke Sklar and Amber Hudson

Have you heard of Tim Tebow, quarterback of the Denver Broncos?  If you haven’t, stick with me.   If you have, your reaction to the name is likely either wow!  Or whoa…..

Wow! as in: he may possibly be the greatest college football player of his time!  He’s a first round draft pick beast of a quarterback!  He’s incredibly devout!

Whoa…. as in:  duuuuude, what’s with the pathetic performance in his first NFL season?! And what is up with Tebowing?!?!

To the uninitiated, Tebowing is the posture he makes on the field, bowing to the lord at every moment of  truth  throughout a game.  (there’s even a website: http://www.tebowing.com/).  While considered the second coming by many football fans, Tebow is quite possibly the most polarizing figure in football today. Sure, he’s doing what he believes in.  He’s taking a stance and his fans can’t get enough of him.  But Tim is pissing a lot of people off.   And it’s not because he’s praying.  Many players, fingers pointed to the sky, pray.  It’s because he does it but can’t back it up with the goods.

Here’s the thing:  it’s okay to be hated…

As marketers we know the kiss of death is to be ignored, not talked about, lost in the fray, to be….gasp…vanilla.  You must take a stand and aggressively differentiate from your competition; even if it leads some to curse you to fail.  But you’ve GOT…TO…DELIVER.

Take an example from NyQuill.  They were told you can’t advertise that it will knock you out for the night…that will alienate people!!!  But they went ahead and did it anyway and business tripled.  They realized they can’t please everyone.

Oh, and here’s one more thing:  never let the consumer dictate your strategy

Great brands create their own future and never apologize.  They don’t suck up to their customers.  And they know their destination.  It’s safe to say Tebow shouldn’t be playing pro-football.  Not right now anyway.  He’s not ready.  But his fans screamed and hollered and bullied the coach into starting him.  And because the coach listened the kid is set up to fail.  Look at what the Gap did.  They changed their logo, consumers flipped out, and the Gap caved.  Come on, stick to what you believe is right.

Can I get an amen!


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