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Identify, Position and Accelerate the Value of High Growth Brands

November 11, 2014
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I spoke at the Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland last week alongside some of the  most innovative companies and people in the world. The most influential leaders in the Technology world were there or have attended in the past.

Leonard in Dublin

photo credit: Jerome Reilly, Sunday Indo Sport

My presentation focused on how to identify, position and accelerate the value of high growth brands— particularly as relates to converting the “fame” of an athlete into a brand with long term value. I used my work with Shaquille O’Neal (“Shaq”) and Oscar De La Hoya (“Golden Boy”) as examples and presented a formula for how this can work most effectively— and it is relevant to any celebrity or high growth brand.

I also talked about how brand building has changed so much in a world where media has gone from concentrated to fragmented because of the emergence of so many TV networks and the growth of broadband and mobile. And because of mobile devices, the consumption of media is absolutely exploding. For example, social media engagements grew 80% from 2013 to 2014— staggering! And of all the “growth” platforms on social, it appears that Instagram is growing at the most rapid rate in enlisting engagement.

When I began representing Shaquille O’Neal out of college, he was relatively unknown. Through our work together, Shaq was the first athlete that ushered in the convergence of sports, entertainment, music, marketing and technology. And today he is a worldwide brand.

The strategy I developed early on and applied to Shaq was called Marketing Coalition Systems (MCS). The components of MCS are below:

  • Only work on the remarkable— something special and unique unlike anything else in the world. In sports “winning” is a huge component of remark ability
  • Create a brand positioning for that remark ability— express it in a creatively compelling yet simple way to define the value proposition of the star athlete or entertainer
  • Create a “mission statement” that expresses the vision of the brand should it reach its ultimate goal
  • Define the primary and secondary “engines” that will give the brand marketing weight in this world of fragmented, yet exponentially growing media and communications. Make sure to use all available communication platforms to amplify the brand message and, most important— make sure the content that is communicated is “on brand” and “remarkable”.
  • Build a “coalition” of marketing partners that will use their marketing budgets to provide more weight behind your brand. I call this using OPM (other people’s money) to grow your brand value
  • Host a Summit where the marketing coalition comes together and aligns their future marketing communications consistent with your brand positioning and is creatively compelling. I created the concept for a “marketing summit” in the mid-1990s with Shaquille O’Neal when we were launching the “Shaq” brand. It turned out to be quite effective in creative massive marketing weight.
  • Always be aware of the latest developments in technology as an amplification tool but remember you have to start with great content that is remarkable/shareable or the technology will be useless.

Finally, it is really interesting with the explosion of social media (and it is just beginning) how athletes and celebrities today have an opportunity to engage, activate and even monetize their audience in unprecedented ways. Kim Kardashian stumbled upon this with her mobile app, “Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood” which reportedly generates $700K per day! I expect to see lots of experimentation around that model in the future for celebrities or athletes with large social followings that can be activated.

We are still in the early stages of this new form of media and its impact on brand building. Let me know of your experiences or insights about best practices and opportunities for the future.


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Leonard Armato is a visionary, celebrity brand builder, and expert in music as an engine for brands. Follow Leonard on Twitter: @LeonardArmato or on Instagram: LeonardArmato
Comment (1)
  1. Mr. Armato,
    Have really enjoyed following you on twitter, and look forward to more lengthier downloads from you like the Branding piece. I also appreciate your words last week on Veteran’s Day. As a Veteran, and someone would would like to do more in the Beach Volleyball arena, it could it be possible to get feedback on a project I’ve been working on?

    Thanks for your time.

    Jim Beaird

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