Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
Back in 2005, the Canadian Olympic Committee, VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee) and Canada's sport federations established a very aggressive program (especially for Canada) called 'We Own the Podium', which was meant to inspire Canadian athletes to push harder than they ever had before and set Canada up to win the Vancouver Olympic Games.
Yesterday, only half-way through the Games, the Canadian Olympic Committee rescinded the program acknowledging that there was no way Canada could win...a fairly embarrassing thing to have to concede.
As I was driving home from Toronto yesterday, I heard the announcement and some commentary on a local radio station and I was immediately reminded of a rule of branding that I have come to have great respect for but isn't appreciated by many:
Self-aggrandizement is a dangerous and most often unsuccessful communications and branding strategy.
For years, companies and organizations loved to set themselves up as the #1 in their industry or area of service, but that strategy doesn't have legs, especially in these days of blogging and Twitter feeds where customers have voice to mass audiences in moments.
People don't want to hear you tell them you are #1, they want you to make them #1.
We rationalize ourselves into thinking that by saying we are #1, the internal team of the organization will be motivated and use that challenge to move forward and actually become #1. But imagine walking into a party of people you'd never met and saying, "Hey everyone, you should come talk to me because I am the best." Ridiculous right? And yet, this is exactly how many organizations choose to position themselves.
Spend your time making the people that you serve #1. Do that, and you'll not only be first in your hearts and minds, but more importantly, you'll be first in theirs. That's effective branding.