3 Branding Lessons from a Texas Longhorns Firing

I am a native Texan (now living in beautiful Colorado), and I am a University of Texas alumnus. I love the school, and I love the rich football tradition. I’ve appreciated Mack Brown’s consistent run of near-excellence – which implies I’ve also been exasperated that he’s blinked in the big moments. He has under-delivered on having the most profitable athletic program in the NCAAs with top-5 recruiting classes each year. However, this post focuses more on the 3 Branding Lessons from a Texas Longhorns Firing…of Manny Diaz.

1. You are now running with the Big Boys

Manny Ramirez was considered a wunderkind as the defensive coordinator for Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee state. It sure is easy to dominate when you are the big fish in the little pond or when you aren’t expected to consistently win. UT is big money football in a state where football rules most families’ lives. Upset wins are not enough – it is expected that you should compete for national championships every year.

Branding Lesson: OK, you’ve had some great successes. Maybe you got a couple big wins over brands that regularly dominate your market. Expectations grow with each success. If your company feels they are giving you top-5 talent, and virtually limitless budget, they are going to expect you to consistently deliver success and compete for market share. Fully leverage those resources, or you might get the pink slip.

2. No adjustments provides same disastrous results

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein. When you look back at Manny Diaz’ failures, including the latest debacle against BYU, you will see his inability to make in-game adjustments. Winners in sports are the ones who excel at making in-game adjustments to conditions, injuries, and what the opponents are “giving them”. It is great when you can impose your game, your will, on your opponents – but sometimes opponents will beat your Plan A. You better be prepared to have a Plan B (and Plan C).

Branding Lesson: If you’ve previously succeeded with trade shows and print media, but your consumers can no longer justify the trade show expenses – and they are getting their information from online sources – then you need to adjust your communication strategy. If you develop a solid Twitter and Facebook strategy, but your consumers become enamored with Google+ and Pinterest, then you better become comfortable with new platforms and incorporate them into your branding strategy.

3. No Defense = Big Losses = No Job

BYU “lit up” the Texas defense for 679 yards – 550 yards on the ground. Those are school record numbers…in the wrong direction if you are a Longhorn! Perennial powerhouse, and BCS National Champion, Alabama’s last two seasons had defenses that held their opponents to 191 yards/game and 246 yards/game. Texas’ defense let their opponents run roughshod for 315 yards/game and 412 yards/game in the same span. Texas allowed 19 more points per game in that last comparison, so their scoring defense was bad, too.

Branding Lesson: If you do not defend your brand in a social media age, you WILL lose. The time to respond in a real-time world continues to shrink. Just like a good defense “keys” off of what the offense shows in football ,when it comes to formations and blocking schemes, a good brand needs to key off any trends they can identify when it comes to brand mentions on social media. It is time for consumer brands to implement brand monitoring strategies that listen to social channels, review sites, and independent blogs. Then defend their brands by being responsive to the customers’ needs.

When you are a Longhorns fan, you know the 2013 season “is lost” based upon the uncompromising standard of winning a national championship. By my count, I think Mack Brown must be on his 2nd letter by now…and about to open the 3rd letter at the end of this season. Learn from this Texas Longhorns firing – prepare to run with the big boys, make in-game adjustments, and defend your brand! Adapt in order to become a champion.

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