Michael Jordan’s recent $8.9 million victory against a grocery store chain for using his identity without his permission provides an opportunity to reinforce many lessons about your brand (above and beyond don’t use a celebrity without his/her permission).  The lessons:

  1. Have a brand strategy and stick to it.  As disclosed during court proceedings, MJ’s strategy was to only seek long-term relationships which would ultimately yield more than $10 million.  He has turned down numerous lucrative sponsorship opportunities, because they did not fit with the strategy.  So whatever your strategy is, stick to it.
  2. Don’t chase every last dollar.  If you chase every last dollar, you run the risk of making bad deals, or doing things that are really not core competencies.  For example, if you are an architect specializing in high-end home remodeling, don’t take a little commercial project just for the money.  It dilutes your brand, and you may not have the competence to do a great job.  If you are an investment manager specializing in large cap stocks, don’t tell people you have expertise in selecting small cap stocks.  You don’t.
  3. Be vigilant.  If it is your company, whether or not the company name possesses your name, stay on top of what is going on.  Many pro athletes and others get in trouble because they delegate decisions they should not delegate and don’t pay attention to their brand.  MJ has always been very involved in business decisions relating to his brand.  For you, that means being involved in every decision, and carefully monitoring what is being said about you in social media and online reviews.  When you see something you don’t like, don’t be afraid to address it.
  4. Follow through on what you say.  People perceived that for MJ, this was just another way to line his pockets.  He said that it was not about the money, and after the verdict he said he would donate the money to charity.  So if you say you are going to do something, do it.  If you don’t follow through, that means your brand cannot be trusted.  And we all know that with social media, everything you say and do is permanent. People do not forget.

We all remember those TV commercials where people sang that they wanted to “be like Mike.”  If you can’t be like him on the basketball court (and who among us can?) you can at least be like him when it comes to guarding your brand.