I had a rude awakening Sunday morning, and I'm probably not alone in that feeling. We all turned on to our favorite news media to learn of Kobe's tragic fate. Even as I write this I feel conflicted partly because I'm inspired to write and because of the sensitive nature of this event maybe it isn't the best time to write but I'll take my chances.
Kobe's passing has been weighing on me this whole day because it is what has set social media ablaze. As I tried to go about my day I couldn't help but draw attention to the fact that Kobe had an amazing brand identity that started as a sub-brand of the L.A. Lakers. Unfortunately, we don't always make this correlation in everyday life until something tragic like this has unfolded, then we start to recognize the impact and individual like Kobe has had on so many of us as fans internationally and across diverse sports affiliation. Kobe has this effect on us because of the power of his brand. Here are a few takeaways from a strong brand.
Upon graduation from high school, Kobe joined the L.A. Lakers via trade from Charlotte and he played for the Lakers throughout his whole career till he retired. This is the kind of loyalty that is hard to imagine today if you were to compare Kobe with today's modern basketball players. This isn't necessarily a slight on these other players for making their choices regarding getting traded. However, it is a testament to Kobe's loyalty to the Lakers' brand which his affiliation further enhanced. Building an enduring brand identity takes a lot of perseverance.
Discipline, Desire, and Hardwork
If there was something most avid basketball players could say about Kobe whether they supported the Lakers or not, it is that Kobe was very driven to be excellent and you could see this by the way he played the game. When it comes to building a strong brand identity discipline, desire and hard work are core components of an enduring brand. These qualities are what endeared most of us to Kobe and this is also why his passing is such a tragedy.
A strong brand continuously builds upon itself by implementing tried and tested methods and also by thinking outside the box. Kobe wasn't unique in the sense that he wasn't the first to build a brand of the success of an existing brand. Michael Jordan did that through his Air Jordans. However, Kobe built up his brand by keeping his # 24 jersey for most of his career, started working on his own personal Black Mamba brand and further solidified his brand by playing an acting role in supporting women's causes. Even after he retired he stayed active within his sport of basketball while fostering relationships with those in other sports such as soccer and golf.
Rises above adversity
Like many heroes, Kobe did endure a period of adversity in his personal life in terms of allegations along with the troubles that cast upon his marriage and probably his basketball performance. Even when he got injured he didn't just call it quits right away. He kept going until the end. In the process of establishing a brand, adversities of all sorts will arise. It is very important to push through those hard times just like Kobe did because this is will play a strong role in solidifying a brand in the long run.
Has social proof
Looking on Instagram Kobe has 16.3 Million followers, granted that's to be expected for a sports athlete of his caliber. The outpouring of grief on social media today further testifies to that. It's probably unfair to compare our social proof to that of Kobe. However, it is something to aspire to when thinking of creating a successful brand identity. Are people talking about your brand by word of mouth, through reviews on social media etc? What actions are you taking to get the social proof to solidify your brand?
Leaves a legacy for the future
Although an individual or organization's audience will primarily determine what the brand is, it is also up to us as individuals or organizations to help in molding our target audience's perception of how we want them to identify with our brand. Building a great legacy often comes with longevity and efficiency. Are the decisions you're making for your brand ones that will help leave a lasting legacy. Kobe left a legacy on the court, through his family and his Mamba Sports Academy.
There's a whole lot more than can be written. All the same, as we mourn the loss of a legendary sports icon. Let's also take a moment to think about the things we can accomplish while we have time and breath in us while drawing inspiration from the example he set. What other qualities does a strong brand possess and what aspirations do you have in this fairly new year for your brand?