Is Tiger Out of the Woods Yet Interview Stesses the Importance of a Properly Aligned Brand

Yesterday evening I had the privilege of being a guest on Anthony Quinones’ “Your Point of Q” (use the On-Demand Player below to access the interview in its entirety).

The focus of the discussion was on whether Tiger Woods’ biggest challenges are still ahead of him, including the corresponding impact on Woods “the person” and Woods “the brand.”

When I was asked this question regarding what to many are one in the same,  I immediately referenced a comment made by Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal that rocked his Presidency, and ultimately led to his resignation from the highest office in the land.

Reflecting on the tribulations of the time while standing before a portrait of John F. Kennedy, Nixon wistfully lamented “when people look at you they see what they want to be . . . when they look at me they see what they are.”  This presents both a powerful image and commentary on just how destructive a misalignment of one’s brand with one’s true self can ultimately, and perhaps inevitably, become.

The question of course is what does it mean when I talk about a misalignment of one’s brand and person?

Simply put, a misalignment occurs when the image or brand we portray outwardly creates a persona that is not a reflection of who we really are, what we really think and of course what we actually do.

In the Woods example, Anthony correctly pointed out that this was the first instance in which the golfing icon had been exposed for questionable behavior.  A new situation in that it is the first time that his image had been tarnished.

However, my response to Anthony’s observation was to point out that the behavior in question was not an acute, one-time occurrence confined to the present day, but had actually been an ongoing reality for quite some time.  In essence, the separation of Woods the brand from the reality of Woods the person started with his first experience with infidelity.

As time progressed, and with it the widening gap between these two paradoxes, it was only a matter of time before the prerequisite public revelation and fall-out.

I then went on to say that the inherent problem of a Tiger Woods-type situation is that both the public and of course Woods himself must bear responsibility for the degree of disappointment and disillusionment experienced as a result of the extramarital revelations.  Note, I am not talking about Woods’ actions themselves, for he alone must take ownership for what he himself does or does not do.

What I am talking about is the never ending propensity on the part of the public to canonize our “heroes”  to the point of where an impossible standard is set.  Woods after all is human.  Why would he be immune to the very same temptations or thoughts that the rest of us experience?

On the other side of the equation is the fact that Woods, as the old saying goes, bought into his own headlines.  Or at least extended the praise associated with  his amazing accomplishments on the golf course to his personal life.  An area in which he is unique (as we all are), but really no different from the rest of us.

In short, the standards and incredibly high expectations we have for him as a golfer are different from those that both the public and Woods himself should have as it relates to him as a person.  They are not one in the same.

The fact that Nike, Electronic Arts and Gatorade have clearly stated that they “fully stand by Woods,” while Accenture (who have already dropped him), along with AT&T and the Tag Heuer watch manufacturer (who are at present “reconsidering their connections to the athlete”) are moving away from him, gives testimony to this difference.

Now before the comments flood in that the last statement somehow suggests that I am saying we should have lower standards in our personal life, than we should in our professional life, this is not the case.  What I am saying is that the standards on the golf course relate to golf, while the standards in terms of one’s personal conduct and relationships relate to everyday life.

Should Tiger Woods have had extramarital affairs?  No.  Does this mean that he is less of a golfer?  No.

Again, his prowess on the golf course is why Nike, Electronic Arts and Gatorade are staying the course in terms of their sponsorship arrangements.  However, if Tiger suddenly found that he couldn’t sink a three foot putt, or began shanking his drives off into the woods, it would be a different story.  Even if he were a pillar of virtue.

This is the reason why it is important that the symmetry or alignment of personal and professional life are maintained so as not conflict with one another.  When these are in harmony re Tiger is a great golfer who is also human and subject to human failings, you then have a true brand.  This of course is the point I am trying to make.

A true brand is when a symmetry between personal and professional life are distinct but properly harmonized.  When this harmonization doesn’t exist, and in the spirit of the winner and loser format prescribed by my good friend the Marketing Doctor John Tantillo, there are no winners.

Just a reminder, be sure to listen to the entire interview, in which we also discussed the impact of the Tiger situation on professional golf (according to Anthony, viewership of PGA events dropped considerably with Woods on sabbatical), through the On-Demand Player below.

Also be certain to tune in to the new Your Point of Q Show on Blog Talk Radio, with the incomparable Anthony Quinones as host.

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