Skills, Drills, and Teamwork – More Musings from the Basketball Court

As the NBA championship game approaches, we find ourselves musing, once again, on the relationship between branding and roundball.

Like we said last week, teamwork is essential to victory. But so are the fundamentals. So let’s take a brief time-out to draw a few parallels between the basketball fundamentals and building a winning brand:

  • The All-Important Playbook – Teams can’t win if the players don’t know the plays. Make sure every member of your organization understands the brand. What is the brand promise? How does it guide decisions? What role does each team member play in advancing the brand? How do your fans define victory? And how can the team pull together to ensure a positive brand experience for every customer?
  • Ball Handling Drills – Every basketball player, regardless of the position he plays, has to be comfortable handling the ball. Lose the handle, and the ball ends up in the hands of the competition. Inside your organization, each department must coach its team members until the “players” have a comfort level handling the brand. That takes countless hours of practice and attention to detail. Make brand-handling drills part of your routine. Talk about your operational decisions in terms of their effect on brand. Where do opportunities exist to improve the brand experience? And encourage departments to share their brand roles internally, so teammates learn how to handle the brand all across the organization – no matter what position they play.
  • Passing Drills – Almost every trip down the court includes at least one pass, and speed and accuracy are essential passing skills. Business is no different. When your organization “misses the pass”– whether it’s a disconnect between sales and implementation or lost communication between customer service and shipping – your brand suffers, and you run the risk of losing customers. One of the most common complaints voiced by customers is having to ask for the same thing twice. Practice hand-offs!
  • Defensive Skills – You’re not the only team on the court. Half the game is preventing the other team from scoring. Quickness and agility will be your key weapons. Look for the takeaways. Move decisively when the other team falters. When they seem overconfident, force a turn-over. (It’s not easy, but if it were, they wouldn’t call it “stealing.”) Be prepared to act swiftly, too, when defending your own brand. And remember that a solid brand promise – one that’s authentic, adds value, and resonates with your market – adds power to your defense.
  • Rebounding – Strong offensive rebounding gives your team a chance for the follow-up shot. Solid defensive rebounding limits the offense to just one shot. And face it, we all miss a shot now and then. But it’s how your organization chooses to rebound after the miss that either strengthens or weakens the brand in the mind of your consumer. Rebounding is the key to developing loyalty among customers.

Well, let’s get back to the game. But when the dust settles on the 2011 NBA season, let’s take the same competitive mentality back to the boardroom and ask ourselves, “What are we doing to build a championship brand?”