What Branding Advice Can We Learn from LeBron?


Written by: Brandon Lewin

The second half of 2010 leading into 2011 has been a complete new game for some, but no one more than LeBron James. Once a beloved hometown Hero that was a possible G.O.A.T. candidate for the game of basketball, however with a few choices those tables turned. The acclaimed King transformed HIMSELF into the Villain. He even diminished his stock from a Global enterprise to a mere commodity in a small city as some know it as South Beach. I was a huge fan of LeBron. I never really liked Kobe especially after the incident he had with the waitress in Colorado. Slowly through LBJ’s career I started to repect his freakish physical ability and his somewhat humbled demeanor. As the years went on, my so called “Man Crush” developed to it’s peak two years ago. Since then he started to lose points in my book as Lebron would refer to himself in third person form, like he was Terrell Owens or something. I cannot respect that behavior one bit, but the King was still the King. Then there was the end of last season where the King and the Cavs took on my beloved Bulls in the first round of the  playoffs. Everything was fine. The speculation of the 2010 Free Agency class was still lingering over everyone’s head, but the playoffs are the moments each athlete dreams of. So, the focus was more on LeBron winning a championship than it was where he might go next year. No one saw this coming, but it was the beginning of the end. The Cavs were shocked by the Celtics, who later went on to take the Lakers to 7 games. Needless to say, the final game that LeBron James played for his hometown team, the Cavs, was a complete disgrace. After the game it was clear from his body language that he was extremely disappointed, he did not care anymore, and he was going to leave that franchise. He was gone. Deep down everyone had that feeling whether they liked it or not. At that point it was only theories and the summer was the only place that held all of our answers.

The summer of 2010 was one of the biggest summers for the NBA in its entire history. Players were signing max contracts left and right. Teams and the executives were preparing their best pitch. Even the people behind the New York Knicks were ready to give LeBron James the time of his life in the likely hood he would bless them with his presence in NYC. It was a spectacle like no other. Of course, LeBron had to come up with “The Decision” which turned out to be the worst marketing move of any one person in the history of Sports Marketing. Why he did that, still leaves me dumbfounded. Right there should teach any person, business, or marketer how NOT to handle the image of a brand. It does not matter the size of the recognition, big or small, large or minute, that mistake should never happen. As much as I can ramble on about how and why this “Decision” was not the way to carry a brand, this is not the post about the decision.

The post you read today is about the recent Tweets of LeBron James. It is not so much about why, but more on how to avoid the mistakes of one LeBron James. The real teacher is here, so sit back and take some notes because class is in session.

On Tuesday January 11th, 2011 @ 11:29pm the King made another horrible choice, he tweeted this, “Crazy. Karma is a b****..Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!” He was talking more towards the direction of the owner of the Cavs, Dan Gilbert, than he was towards the team, the players and the fans. Well, maybe the fans. I can see where James is coming from however he needs to take his own advice and keep his mouth shut and his opinion to himself. With actions and comments like this one, it continues to hurt his brand. The lesson to be learned here is never say anything that you do not want people to remember for your brand.

People do not forget easily about negative comments. Neither does the internet. In today’s day and age there is not much you can say in a Tweet, a Facebook Update, Blog, Email, and the list goes on, that most people will not be able to find. It took me two minutes to find the Tweet LeBron sent out 3 days ago. During my speaking engagements, seminars, and workshops I always express a big concern on what you put out there. Everything you write whether it is funny loving or opinionated is a direct reflection of your brand. The saying goes It takes years to build trust and only seconds to destroy it. That could not be more true for a Brand. You spend months, maybe years to build the name and reputation of the company, but then you put a comment that is controversial that can and will demolish all that work. The internet and Social Media is here to stay people, so stop blaming the internet for these problems and start holding yourselves accountable. You know that the internet captures everything you say for a very long time. Almost anyone can find something you might have said in the past few years on the web if they wanted to. How do you avoid this mistake? It is very easy, it just takes 3 steps:

  1. Think long and hard about what you put out there. If you feel it is controversial, then you are probably right. If you need to be reassured more than what your gut can provide, ask a trusted friend, family member, or colleague. 9 out of 10 times your gut is going to be right.
  2. Have a clear voice for your comments, articles or any other form of communication in the viral world. You need to find yourself before you destroy all your efforts.
  3. Lastly, keep a positive mentality. The reason people put out content or statements that can be hurtful to the brand is because they are thinking negatively. If you are surrounding yourself with positive people, positive situations, and you are in an overall positive environment this situation will not happen.

As some of you might have come to realize, it is not that hard to destroy ones brand, however it is NOT that difficult to protect it either. People make poor decisions all the time, which is not the problem. We are human. We make mistakes. It happens. The problem is how you bounce back from “The Decision”. You always have a choice; it is up to you how people perceive the brand. You have to choice…do you want a positive Brand Awareness or a negative King-like persona? The choice is yours!

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About Brandon M. Lewin

Marketing and training run through my blood. That is why I love what I do. Being an intricate piece in the marketing success of Cardinal Path Training Academy has been a dream. Its imperative for us to share our knowledge with a community of people and organizations who desperately need guidance in the fields of digital intelligence and marketing. The future depends on it. I also get the chance to teach people with hands-on, real world experience workshops. That is so much fun to infotain. Beyond my passion for my work, my family is my everything. Chicago sports is a close third.
This entry was posted in Brand, Brand Awareness, Branding, Businesses, LeBron James, Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Sports Marketing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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