You may have read in recent weeks about Michael Jordan receiving almost a $9 Million settlement from Chicago-based Grocery chain Dominick’s. Some of you may think Jordan, who’s net worth is estimated at $1 Billion, is being unreasonable in suing the chain. I’ve even seen outlets calling him a ‘bully’ for doing so.
However, when I read this article I don’t see someone who is money-hungry grasping at more cash in a lawsuit-happy society. What I see is someone who, maybe more than any one individual, has a hyper-focused sense of brand and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect that brand.
Everyone knows Michael Jordan, and everyone can readily identify his iconic jumpman logo and immediately associates it with him. He has transcended sports to become a cultural icon. Unlike other famous individuals who may represent a specific company (Steve Jobs with Apple, Bill Gates with Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook), Jordan represents himself. This is why he was willing to go to court to protect his brand.
Jordan stated in an interview that even if the grocer had approached him, he would not have agreed to the ad because ‘it didn’t fit the strategy we were operating on’. How many of us have a brand strategy that we adhere to that closely? How many of us even know what our brand strategy is?
Your brand isn’t just your business’ logo, website, or even the owner. Your brand is everything about your business. It’s what people identify you as. It encompasses everything from your logo to your product to your customer service. Each time your business interacts with a customer, you are either enhancing your brand or detracting.
Your employees should be brand ambassadors. They should know what your brand is, and should be empowered to build up the brand. Your communication should be in sync with your brand strategy, and not giving your customers mixed signals or messages. By having a clear brand strategy and sticking to it, you will find that you business will become more focused and successful.
Now most of us won’t ever find our likeness – or even our business’ identity – tied to a product without our permission, but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn from this example. What we should take away from this is to be diligent about our brand. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by to enhance it, and don’t to anything that may detract from your brand.