A common question in the world of marketing is “can I stop building my brand when I am busy?” At Anchor, sometimes we even run across a slightly different version of this question, “should I still be promoting my products or services even though I can’t keep up with demand?” These are both important questions for any business, and they share an answer.
There’s a strange but very real phenomenon in sports that is sometimes called “playing not to lose.” If you’ve never heard of it, it’s sort of the opposite of “playing to win.” It’s not “playing to lose,” of course – only draft-bound teams racing to the bottom and movie prize fighters do that – it’s changing your team’s overall mindset from “let’s do whatever we can to win this game” to “don’t do anything that will cause us to lose this game.”
In football, coaches who adopt this policy will often kick field goals in spite of the fact that their team has been successful in getting first downs. In basketball, it usually involves slowing down the game in hopes of outlasting the opponent, even though the offense has been scoring points easily up to that point.
In both sports – in all sports – focusing on not losing often steals the momentum from the team that has been winning.
There’s nothing quite like watching a team that is ahead by a large margin stop doing what has given it the lead and suddenly start acting uncharacteristically in the hopes of preventing a loss. In most cases, the winning team’s offense grinds to a stop, while the opposition continues to operate as normal – or even more effectively, since they have a sense of urgency. In terms both figurative and literal, the winning team starts going backwards while the losing team gets more aggressive in moving forward.
Inevitably, the margin shrinks as the momentum shifts. When they’re lucky, the winning team ekes out a win by a few points as the clock runs out. Other times, the competition pulls out a victory at the last moment. In either scenario, the team that was leading willingly surrendered its momentum when it could have built on its success.
The more momentum your brand has, the better it will serve you when you run into an economic downturn, a strong competitor or a public relations issue. If you give up your momentum, you’ll need to start over when those challenges arise, and by that time you may have already fallen behind.
The most successful athletes and coaches in the world never stop trying to win the game. They know that defense is much more difficult without any offense. It’s a lesson that can serve us well in the world of branding, marketing and advertising.
Take advantage of good times to build your brand even more effectively.
That way, you’ll have plenty of brand equity in your “account” when circumstances require you to make a withdrawal. Play to win, not to avoid losing. You’ll be glad you did.