Remarkable Beyond Par

What We Learned from Tiger Woods and Why His Comeback Matters to Your Brand (Whether You Like Him or Not)

April 14th, 2019 is a day that will live in our collective sports’ memories for a long time to come. It is, of course, the date of one of the most epic comebacks in sports history; the date that Tiger Woods won his fifth Masters title.  

Watching Tiger’s masterful (pun intended) performance unfold, alongside throngs of fans who rallied behind their golf god got us thinking about the power of brands; even more specifically, the power of Tiger’s brand, its ability to survive adversity, and to seemingly bounce back stronger than ever.  

It’s been 22 years since Tiger first set the sports world on fire, and 14 years since his last green jacket. Since then, he’s had quite a few personal struggles and countless injuries that had many counting both Tiger, and his high-performing brand that represents red-hot excellence, down and out. They were mistaken. 

At this year’s Masters performance, it was as if we were watching the Tiger we knew two decades ago. The man and the brand that fans fell in love with back then seemed to swell back to life before our very eyes, as if the scandals and injuries had never happened, to win over our hearts and minds once again. 

Millennials, who were just starting to find their own sports affinities when Tiger exploded on the scene, remain his biggest champions today. He single handedly made golf cool to them way back when and brought it to the forefront of their minds when they easily could’ve found their passion in the more conventional choices, like football, baseball, or soccer. Tiger elevated the sport of golf to a level of prominence it had never seen before and we are finding that his effect seems to be everlasting.   

But how does he do it? How does he manage to connect on such a deep, emotional level with so many fans that truly spread the gamut of age, race, gender, and beyond?  

Tiger Woods is remarkable. He is especially uncommon through his focus and his dedication. And with that, Tiger’s brand is remarkable.  

There are three key factors that make Tiger’s brand (and can help make your brand) so remarkable:

Stay focused on what makes you great.

Keep your story relatable.

Be memorable.  

 

STAY FOCUSED ON WHAT MAKES YOU GREAT

As our world continues to evolve, staying focused has become one of the toughest things to do. Maintaining focus means you must persevere through all the noise, but to truly be great, it requires more than just your full attention.  You must also have an unwavering belief in what you are doing. Not only did Tiger Woods have to persevere through the personal distractions, but also through physical limitations that had everyone suggesting he was finished. It was his own belief in himself that drove him to excellence once again. Just as Tiger stayed focused on his core purpose, which was to deliver a great golf performance despite all the interference, it is important for you to stay focused on your core brand purpose. Make sure all of your brand touch points are built from your purpose. Brands should constantly evaluate their brand world and all of their messaging to make sure the purpose is laser-focused and has a high-level brand ideal that compels your audience to care. For Tiger, that’s his heroic archetype. He’s the man that paves the way for others. The man that challenges and overcomes despite all odds.

Now that’s a message that anyone can get behind.  


BRAND EXAMPLE:

Staying Focused

Birkenstock comes to mind when we start to think of brands that have stayed focused to ultimately win. As a 244 year old German brand, Birkenstock has remained consistent with their purpose and brand DNA over and over again to see skyrocketing success in the 1960’s, 90’s, and now again today. Their message of quality, craftsmanship, and heritage is resonating with consumers again. The brand has seen a surge in revenue, which has grown tenfold in the last five years. Birkenstock has embraced who they are regardless if you think their product is ugly. They are winning. 

KEEP YOUR STORY RELATABLE

Brands must be relatable to core human needs in order to give their audience a reason to feel an emotional connection. It’s ok – even ideal – for a brand to be vulnerable, to be transparent, and imperfect. When a brand comes back to its core purpose from whatever setbacks it may experience, it shields itself from long term negative effects. Tiger’s story is by no means clean, but when the narrative shifts to his game and his perseverance, he taps into his brand’s purpose and maintains relevancy.  

BRAND EXAMPLE:

Being Relatable

No one is relating to their consumers better than Polaroid Originals is relating to them today. Launching into immense popularity in 1977, Polaroid saw great success by introducing the public to the magic process of instant photos but the rise of digital photography caused them to dwindle significantly. Their confidence in their product allowed them to stay relevant by creating campaigns that encouraged consumers to “slow down, be present, and make the most of every moment.” It was this relatable technique and the tangible product that actually captures real moments that encouraged Millennials to go out and get their own Polaroid cameras, and in turn, breathe new life into a retro brand whose relatability never went out of style.  


BE MEMORABLE:

Red shirt, black pants. That’s the uniform of a winner, according to Tiger Woods, and whether you are an avid golf fan or not, that uniform is unmistakably symbolic of excellence. Commit to consistency. Commit to leadership. Commit to being unique, and most of all, commit to being remarkably you to be memorable. It’s when brands revert to a “copycat” strategy to save time or money that they lose their way and eventually lose relevancy and the ability to stay top-of-mind with their audience. Brands must live and act their truth at all costs – that’s their superpower. For Tiger his superpower will always be his ability to play the game his way. Not the way Jack or Arnie played – the way Tiger plays. It’s in his play, his focus, his relatability, and his memorability that generates fan loyalty. It’s what makes him remarkable, and once again, a force to be reckoned with.  


BRAND EXAMPLE:

Being Memorable

Levi’s is as much an American Icon as apple pie and baseball, but how do they manage to stay remarkable and top-of-mind with consumers more than 150 years after they launched? The brand saw a downturn in the 2000’s but they’ve seen a resurgence and had their best year in a decade in 2018, hitting almost $5 billion in sales. Loyal fans are returning because of their inclusive, innovative, and memorable campaigns that remind consumers what they love about the brand - their strong roots in authenticity and firm values - two things in particular that today’s consumer is looking for when they associate themselves with a brand.   

Congrats to Tiger and his historic comeback. Here’s to knowing your game and knowing your purpose. A true brand champion, Tiger stuck to his roots and the payoff is gloriously green. 


Sources: AdAge, Mintel, Nielsen


adam ferguson