Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jeter Branding: What or Who is a Brand?

As I sat in Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago among a  sellout crowd -- whose electricity had enough voltage to evaporate the wall of humidity that engulfed the park that night-- watching Derek Jeter’s pursuit of attaining his 3,000th hit, a watershed baseball milestone that only 27 other players have reached, it dawned on me how appropriate it is that it happened this year, the anniversary of two other time-endured historic Yankee moments.

In 1941, with the backdrop of America’s impending entry into WW II, “Joltin’”  Joe DiMaggio captured the country with his astounding 56-game hitting streak, forever cementing his already iconic aura.
Twenty years later, at the start of a decade that saw sweeping cultural change, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, dubbed the M&M boys by the media, embarked upon a captivating home run race in chase of Babe Ruth’s home run record, which Maris broke with 61 homers.
DiMaggio, Mantle, The M&M boys, are “brands” that have endured time. As Derek Jeter becomes the first to have all 3,000 hits in a Yankee uniform his place in team history is secure. He has become a household name and contemporary baseball brand with his many accomplishments, but it remains to be seen how his “brand” will endure the test of time.
Yes, I did say BRAND. Brand, you say. Is an individual a brand? You bet.
Joe DiMaggio, forever linked with Marilynn Monroe, his affiliation as a spokesperson for Mr. Coffee, the ongoing admiration of his remarkable streak and now, the launch of Joe DiMaggio products and website. If that’s not branding what is it?
Mantle as well lives on, with a restaurant in New York the countless number 7 shirts still worn by Yankee fans and much more that sustains his brand.
Jeter’s “brand” is seen everywhere in a more highly sophisticated media and marketing world and that will continue long after he is finished playing but will it transcend generations the way DiMaggio and Mantle have?
Players and celebrities are indeed brands just the way, Coke and Pepsi, are. People buy products and have relationships with brands.
What we as business people need to remember is that we are all brands.  We don’t have 3,000 hits or 56-game hitting streaks, but we DO have assets and accomplishments and we must leverage those to make consumers want to have relationships with us and purchase our products and services.  How good we are at doing that may very well, decide if our brands stand out and endure the test of time.    

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