Brand it like Brady
by Jonathan Reed
Brady and branding… let's learn from the GOAT.
Tom Brady led the Buccaneers to Super Bowl victory against Patrick Mahomes and his much fancied Kansas City Chiefs. That’s his 7th Super Bowl Ring in a truly amazing career spanning over 20 years. What can we learn from his achievements?
Let’s first put his success in a sporting context. At 43 years and 188 days, Brady became the oldest player to play in the biggest game in US sport, extending his record for Super Bowl appearances to 10 and joining Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to win Super Bowls with two different teams. Already widely considered the greatest NFL player of all time (the GOAT), Brady decided to leave New England in the off-season for a new challenge and joined Tampa Bay, whose only previous Super Bowl win came in the 2002 season. What Brady and his teammates have done this year is truly incredibly and there’s so much we can learn from him and the parallels with successful branding and marketing are uncanny.
As a sport, American Football has many similarities with the world of branding and marketing. It’s hugely strategic. Success is built on planning, research, then hard work, tactical genius and clever creative execution. For over two decades Brady has been the Jedi master of his profession. The chief orchestrator, the grand master in this physical, brutal game of chess.
Learn your craft - awards don’t come easy
One thing we can learn from Brady is that whether it’s in sport or brand building, success rarely comes easily. You need to put the hard work in. Brady started his college career at Michigan Wolverines as their 7th choice Quarterback, spent two years as a back-up, then when his chance came he took it and some. Even when it came to the 2000 NFL Draft, doubts remained about his ability and he wasn’t picked until the 6th round and 199th spot. 198 players and six quarterbacks were picked before him. Even in the NFL the doubters and naysayers still remained but year after year Brady grafted and stayed true to his vision. The rest they say his history. When building brands we must do the same. We need to do our groundwork, ride the setbacks and embrace challenges.
Continuity and consistency
Much has been written about Brady and his recipe for longevity. His attention to detail on the training field, his emphasis on sleep and diet when looking after his body. Throughout his career he has remained consistent and true. The same applies to successful branding. A clear vision and purpose is needed and consistency and continuity across all brand communications is crucially important.
Being adaptable but staying on brand
Learning when to adapt has also been a trait of his success. The game of football has changed massively. Defences have changed, players have evolved, systems have moved on yet Brady has learnt to adapt whilst at the same time stay true to his core values. The same is true in our rapidly changing business world. Now more than ever with the impact of COVID. It’s never too late to learn and organically change but always stay true to your core values and beliefs. Twenty years ago radio advertising was considered the new challenger media and now everybody is obsessed with ‘Digital’. But let’s remember these are just tactics. These are the plays and formations, the Brady playbook he uses on game day. But crucially, before running your brand plays and tactics, first you need to define your brand and marketing strategy… your brand purpose and proposition…write your own brand playbook.
Know your target, your strengths and weaknesses
Brady is a mastermind when it comes to maximising his teams strengths and weaknesses. They may not always be the best team but he knows how to maximise the opportunities in front of him. He knows what makes them unique. The same again is true with successful branding. Understand what makes you different and unique in an increasingly competitive world. Discover what are the key ingredients for your specific brand story and what you need for your specific success. What really is your niche and who are you talking to?
It’s a team game
Brady is undoubtedly the GOAT but he’s always the first to champion his teammates. It’s the collective that brings success not just him. 53 active players on game day, vast quantities of coaches and support team, all with Brady at the helm. Importantly he knows how to build the spine of a successful team too. Brady knew what additional pieces the ‘Bucs required to take their strong existing roster to the next level and in came the ‘Brady bunch’ of players with their recruitment heavily influenced by him. And guess what, his old mate ‘the Gronk’ ends up scoring two touchdowns in their win against the Chiefs. Brady and Gronkoswki have now teamed up for more Super Bowl receiving touchdowns than any other duo in history. Let’s learn again. In a world of endless marketing opportunities sometimes you just need to go back to your knitting and what works for you. Know your brand playbook. Learn it. Execute it. And importantly get the right team members in place. Surround yourself with brilliant people. You can’t do it all yourself. Copywriters, photographers, designers, illustrators, animators, digital experts, PR gurus, media planners, content creators… they’re all crucial pieces in the branding jigsaw.
Brand it like Brady
Be brilliant… be awesome and authentic… stay true to your purpose. All brilliant branding lessons we can learn form Mr Brady. But just as important in our eyes are Brady’s great characteristics of staying humble and family focussed. Now that’s Sunny Thinking!
Did you know?
Advertising during the Super Bowl is serious business and brands paid up to an estimated $5.5m (£4m) for a 30 second commercial. Check out some of the best Super Bowl ads from over the years here https://superbowl-ads.com/
Above images taken from NY Times, the Guardian and Sky Sports Credit: Getty Images.