The NFL Sells Out to Disney to Restore Brand IntegrityBy Burkey Belser
November 13, 2014
No, the NFL did not sell out to Disney but feast your eyes on these creations by Mark Avery Kenny, reported in the Washington Post on Sunday. The wit behind these NFL/Disney logos is matched by the excellence in execution. What struck me most is how clearly the brands "spoke" through each logo. In the logo above, the persona of the Denver Broncos is perfectly blended into Team Lion King. The personalities of the Disney characters and their associated qualities, even memories of the movie itself, are collected in the playful logo.
Lest we forget, Greenfield/Belser's definition of a brand is "a distinct identity based on a promise of value that is different from any other." People can be forgiven for believing a brand is a "logo" alone or even a tagline ("Just do it") but, in fact, these are not the brand. It bears repeating: a logo or tagline is NOT the brand. A brand is all of the associations collected around it. Search your amygdala and hippocampus to find all the associations you've collected of Coca-Cola: the logo, the icy red can and your memory of draining it, "The Real Thing," a jolly red Santa and polars bears during the holiday season, Coke vending machines and on and on. That's the brand. While not exactly human, it is darned close to the associations you have about individual humans. Is this why the Supreme Court decided corporations could be treated as "human"?
If I've convinced you, then you should recognize just how difficult it is to create a brand and how easy it is to create a logo. Creating and raising a brand requires superb, consistent, persistent discipline. Few professional services firms or associations achieve this because those organizations rarely understand what's required to develop a brand over the long haul. Sincere efforts that are well begun are whipsawed by changes in leadership at the top and at the CMO level. Keepers of the flame so often fail to identify the fuel that keeps the flame burning brightly—the brand equities (what the heck are these? Do you know?), the brand compass you hold in your hand (your North Star) and the gestalt of the brand itself. I understand, you've got lots to worry about, but an article in the Harvard Business Review some years ago, suggested the CEO's primary responsibility is to build and protect the brand.