Man As Brand – Tiger Woods
Off the Green and into the Rough
When a human being becomes a brand by virtue of their talent and fame, their name is synonymous with everything they represent – the good and the bad.
Tiger Woods is a golfer who has leveraged his skill and good name to become the world’s first billion-dollar athlete-brand – earnings from cumulative tournament winnings and commercial endorsements.
Tiger’s fall from grace is being documented in real time ad nauseam. Its impact on his commercial endorsements is the subject of much speculation. Suddenly, everyone is an expert on crisis management and personal integrity.
There is a huge appetite for the failures of the rich and famous. The same folks who create the hero and worship the cult of personality revel in their fallen hero’s downfall.
None of this should surprise anyone. It’s a classic story that is as old as humanity. It’s human nature.
What is surprising is that companies still invest huge amounts of their capital and reputation in individual human beings based on their good deeds, continually underestimating the inevitable outcome when mere mortals are involved.
Building your brand by hitchhiking on the brand of another renders you vulnerable to the pitfalls and foibles of the driver brand. You’re just along for the ride. They take a left turn – you take a left turn. They leave the road – you leave the road with them.
Every investment has its risk/reward calculus. Considering human nature, the risk of betting on a single individual – specifically his or her perpetual good behavior – is too great relative to the reward.
Bet on people. Invest in people. Absolutely. To the extent that individuals represent positive attributes you want your brand associated with – go ahead and bet on them. Just remember, that even the great ones are human in the end. Caveat emptor.