NFL Eagles Teaches Businesses a Fast Way to a Profitable Brand
Updated: Aug 2
This little known business concept could quickly supercharge your brand
Mid-season 2017, the Philadelphia Eagles tapped QB Nick Foles to replace injured QB Carson Wentz. Fans were sure Wentz could lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl win. Given that the city's self esteem is connected to the Eagles' record, most Philadelphians will tell you that Wentz's injury was devastating.
Growing up in New England, I became an Eagles fan decades ago. This fortunately avoided an existential crisis. I braved the crowds and flying beer bottles at the Eagles Super Bowl parade to capture this image of Wentz above.
Before we address brand, let first define organizational culture. Organizational culture is a company's values and behaviors.
The importance of a successful culture is incalculable. It can make a business more secure with a better bottom line, attract better employees and reduce turnover.
Refining a company's culture is powerful and can be accomplished quickly.
Eagles' organizational culture explodes
The Philadelphia Eagles began their 2017 season with a community minded and respectful culture.
When Foles became the starting QB on December 11, he injected an ingredient that, when combined with team's already solid culture, exploded into a culture that was far greater than the sum of its parts. Reuben Franks, NBC Sports Philadelphia, remarked, "That 2017 team was very good but it wasn't the most talented we're ever seen around here, but the togetherness, unity and trust was off the charts."
Foles's had an appreciation for the power of culture. He told Franks, 'the team must love one another, genuinely. ...a real brotherhood.' Foles was the catalyst that sparked the team's emotions into a powerful juggernaut.
In what many may argue was Philadelphians' most exciting moment in a century, the Eagles beat Tom Brady's Patriots 41 - 33 to win Super Bowl LII. Foles earned MVP. Brady's deflated balls couldn't overcome the exceptional culture of the Eagles.
Brand and a healthier bottom line
Brand is the customer's experience. Brand is not what a company wants its brand to be. It's not a logo or a tagline, although they can play a supporting role.
A successful brand will allow a business to differentiate, sell at premium prices and build long term emotional bonds with customers. The result is a healthier bottom line. Every business has a brand, whether intentional or not.
You can accept the brand you have or intentionally create the brand you desire.
Eagles' brand explodes
The change in the team's culture with Foles was remarkable. The team's non-verbals (body language and facial expressions), tone of voice and player camaraderie, leaped off the field like hot burning coals. The team's behavior (culture) became the fan's experience (brand). The takeaway: culture defined brand.
Of course, the reverse can happen. Fan experience (brand) can amplify the team (culture).
The connection between organizational culture and brand
Common wisdom holds that culture and brand are distinctly different.
Having worked with hundreds of companies over decades, I have witnessed the powerful connection between culture and brand. They are intimately related, operating as one system.
One way to visualize the singular system is to imagine culture as the inside (organization's values and behaviors) and brand as the outside (customers' experience). A singular system, viewed from two perspectives.
Albert Einstein's groundbreaking theory of Special Relativity showed physics that matter and energy are intimately connected. Similarly in business, culture and brand are intimately connected.
Recommendation 1: Start with culture
Most businesses mistakenly start their rebranding process by revising their visual images (e.g. logo, vehicle signage, website, etc.). Visual images play an important role in branding but they don't define it. Revised visual brands are frequently inconsistent with customer brand experience. Customers will see one brand visually yet have a different brand experience. Customers easily spot these discrepancies, which they interpret as deception. Consistency is imperative.
Companies that start with culture usually dominate competitors that start with their visual brand, although there can be exceptions. It's been my experience that fine-tuning culture will provide faster results for a far less money.
Buying decisions are primarily based on emotion. People respond to people and your employees are at the center of your businesses emotional core. Your team is your most powerful branding tool. Ask yourself, colleagues and customers how they experience your company. Inquire if they experience your team as happy, engaged, committed, comfortable with themselves and genuine. Do they listen actively and genuinely care about customers.
Recommendation 2: Add a structured process
Inject your culture with steroids by forming a weekly Strategy Team, comprised of the CEO (or top manager) and direct reports. While the stated purpose of the Strategy Team is to discuss opportunities in an open and trusting environment, the improved cohesiveness that results between members will permeate throughout the workplace in the form of a stronger culture. Make it clear to your group that the Strategy Team is not a democracy; the CEO has the final say, although obtaining group consensus is ideal. You can run the Strategy Team in-house, however engaging a professional facilitator should get you there faster with better results.
Recommendation 3: Add in visual branding
When you've made significant progress on culture, it's time to address your company's visual brand. I'll address visual brand opportunities in a future article. If you drop me a note I'll be happy to send you recommendations on ways to strengthen your visual brand in advance of the article.
An interesting client example
Client example to follow...
The most successful businesses have both a successful culture and brand. If your business is ultimately sold, the combination of a strong culture and brand can potentially have great economic value.
We enjoyed working with the Philadelphia Eagles to help fine-tune their brand strategy. This article contains my personal thoughts and not those of the Eagles.
Lloyd Scott & Company helps clients get what they want faster. Our combined expertise in marketing/branding, organizational psychology and finance allows us to identify opportunities that others may not see. If you are seeking real change and want to talk about your business, give us a call at 856.910.7500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org