Winning Tradition: Building a Brand People Want to Buy

By Jeff Beals

“Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are going wrong, and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go in there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock. But I’ll know about it, and I’ll be happy.”

These words were made famous in the 1940 Warner Brothers film Knute Rockne, All American, starring Ronald Reagan among others. The movie tells the story of the legendary Knute Rockne, who coached Notre Dame from 1918 to 1930 during which time he became the most successful coach in history in terms of winning percentage. Reagan played George “the Gipper” Gipp, a player on one of Rockne’s teams who ended up dying from an infection while he was an otherwise healthy young man in 1920. Gipp struggled to utter those words to Rockne while he was lying on his death bed.

In 1928, Rockne’s Fighting Irish team was not playing up to his usual standards. After posting a 4-2 record in the first six games, Notre Dame prepared to take on undefeated Army. Finding his team trailing at halftime, Rockne delivered his “Win One for the Gipper” speech in the locker room. Those eminently motivational words inspired the team to go back out on the field and play their hearts out, upsetting Army 12-6.

Not only did the film give the future U.S. president his lifelong nickname, it immortalized Rockne and further cemented Notre Dame’s widely respected and nationally recognized “brand.” Sure, Notre Dame enjoyed tremendous success and a big following before the 1940 film, but after millions of moviegoers saw the Notre Dame mystique on the silver screen, the brand was bolstered. Just think of the iconic images and words that are now universally known to be associated with Notre Dame – “Four Horsemen,” “Golden Dome,” “Wake up the echoes.”

For years after that film, Notre Dame enjoyed top-of-mind brand status. That made it easier for the Irish to sign blue-chip players. In fact, during Coach Frank Leahy’s tenure, 1941 to 1953, Notre Dame won four Associated Press national championships and registered six undefeated seasons. Since Leahy, Notre Dame has won national championships under Ara Parseghian (1966, 1973), Dan Devine (1977) and Lou Holtz (1988).

Notre Dame is enjoying a great deal of success so far this year, but even when the Irish suffer through a lackluster season, games are still broadcast nationally on NBC. Notre Dame Stadium is still full on Saturdays, and the team generally puts together highly rated recruiting classes each year on National Signing Day.

The reason Notre Dame continues selling itself successfully each year is simple: it has a phenomenal brand. When you have a great brand that many people covet and desire, you sell more of whatever you’re trying to sell. An organization that has achieved great brand status has convinced a significant portion of its target audience that it is the ONLY brand worthy of attention. Loyal customers believe in the brand so strongly, that no other provider measures up.

What’s your organization’s brand? People have a deep desire to associate with organizations and people, who have highly respected and widely recognized brands. Take advantage of your unique selling points, both internal and external, and build a brand people want to buy.  

***

If you like this story, you can read hundreds more like it in Jeff’s brand-new book, Selling Saturdays: Blue Chip Sales Tips from College Football.  Order copies at www.SellingSaturdays.com.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation)  to anyone else who might benefit from it.