Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

The brand truth: ‘You are what you do’

Last night, in a rugged NBA playoff game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, LA’s Kobe Bryant was sent sprawling to the floor after being tripped by Denver’s Dahntay Jones. After seeing the TV replay, the ABC announcers all believed Jones intentionally tripped Bryant, although the referees missed the obvious foul. Play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, in an apparent defense of Jones, said the Denver player was not considered “a dirty player” in the NBA. To which analyst Jeff Van Gundy responded, “You are what you do.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter whether Jones is considered a clean or dirty player, because that was a dirty play. And if he continues to make plays like that (in an earlier game Jones pushed Bryant in the back as Bryant went in for a layup), he’ll earn an undesirable reputation as a dirty player. 

Maybe only an NBA fan and branding consultant like me would offer Van Gundy’s words as a caution to those who oversee their firm’s brand. All of our carefully researched and cultivated efforts to develop a certain image among our stakeholders are only as effective as the collective behavior of our organization. That’s why I believe managing your business’ brand or reputation is not simply an exercise in marketing. Who you say your business is in your marketing counts for far less than what you do as a business. 

Logos and slogans do not define your brand. Actions do. When the spotlight is bright and the pressure to perform is great, how do the executives and employees of your organization behave? That’s where you’ll find the truth of your brand.


‘The War’ and the war

I have sat transfixed through nearly every gruesome and heartrending hour of Ken Burns’ telling of “The War” this past week. It’s almost been enough to take my mind off the war; I mean that one our administration wants to call the war on terror. Unfortunately, the last world war didn’t make history of all war. Loss of limbs and lives continues unabated in places we Americans choose to fight and in plenty of other spots around the globe we choose to ignore.

Today I find myself looking to compare the war my father fought in with the one our soldiers are ordered to contest in Iraq. But I stop short. There really is no comparison, aside from the individual bravery, sacrifice and brutality common to all wars. Still, I can’t help but observe the Iraq news backdrop to the 15-hour airing of “The War” — BlackWater, the mercenary, ahem, private security firm coming under harsh criticism for a recent tragic confrontation in Iraq. I suspect many other Americans go to the same place I do as they hear about the involvement of Blackwater and other private profiteers of war: cynicism. We grow even wearier. What else can we expect from an administration for whom the invisible hand of the free market belongs to God. Of Blackwater, Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich remarked:

“If war is privatized, then private contractors have a vested interest in keeping the war going. The longer the war goes on, the more money they make.”

And therein grows the cynicism of the day. If it’s good for business in America, it’s good for America. Chalk up war as another commodity to be bought and sold. Of course Corporate America benefitted tremendously during World War II. But Americans then were not afforded the luxury of cynicism. The war could not be won without the all-out efforts of business and every other institution. Whatever it took, whatever the cost to win the war was what Americans signed up for. They had little choice. Those who would destroy us had to be destroyed.

When I imagine Baghdad, I don’t see the tyrants of Berlin or Tokyo. I picture the civil war leaders of Hanoi and Saigon. I don’t find towering figures like FDR and Churchill to take comfort from. I seethe over the deceit of Bush and Blair. And I don’t witness the sacrifice of all Americans. I see volunteer soldiers from the ranks of our most disadvantaged families and a depressingly large swath of our citizenry more concerned with Britney Spears’ wellbeing than that of our warriors.

So how will filmmakers years from now look back on America’s war of 2007 and counting? You can easily guess my prediction. What’s yours?

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007
Posted in Current Affairs, Film, Politics, Television | No Comments »