The term “brand overpromotion” may sound like an oxymoron, especially coming from a guy like me. After all, I’m the one telling everybody to “sell their value” and “stay invigorated” in their pursuit of brand market share and recognition. But don’t promote yourself into an image that is impossible to live up to.
While I wouldn’t advise basing your brand image around your weaker points, the fact remains that we are all human, which by definition means we are all imperfect. Therefore, it is OK to base your brand on being perfect or virtually perfect in certain key areas (if you can back it up with your performance), but don’t try to spread that perfection to every other aspect of your life.
I’m as sick of hearing about Tiger Woods and his marital problems as anyone else, but his misfortunes of the last several months illustrate the branding pitfall I’d like you to avoid. Tiger is about as perfect a golfer as you will ever see. Golf experts will tell you the key to his game is he is simply good at every aspect of it. Even most of the greats had at least one flaw in their game; Tiger really does not.
Tiger intelligently parlayed this phenomenal golf ability into both a lucrative career as a professional athlete and an even more lucrative career as a professional spokesperson and product promoter. People mesmerized by his seemingly inhuman skill on the golf course were eager to swing his clubs, wear his spikes, and maybe even drive his car or wear his aftershave.
All well and good. But where Tiger erred was when he started to expand his brand image from being a guy who was perfect at golf to being a guy who was perfect at everything. The perfect humanitarian, the perfect role model, the perfect husband and father.
I won’t bore you by rehashing what you already know. Tiger’s personal imperfections have been exposed for all to see. Because they clash so violently with the brand image of complete human perfection he cultivated, they are far more damaging to his brand than if he had narrowed its scope to perfection on the golf course, where he could legitimately back it up.
I am not condemning Tiger for whatever personal mistakes he may have made and I truly wish him and his family healing and rejuvenation. But I am pointing out that there is a reason he is continually lambasted for his less-than-perfect personal life while fellow pro golfer John Daly, who has created a brand image of a lovable buffoon which seems to serve him well, gets a free pass for his numerous divorces and highly public problems with excessive eating, drinking, gambling and smoking. I’m hardly suggesting you take the John Daly route with your brand image either, just that you find a happy medium.
Have you ever overpromoted your brand? How did you rectify the situation?