Posted by David Oates 1 year, 5 months ago


2017 marked one of the most exciting College Football National Championship games in some time. Even if you’re not into sports, the last second heroics by Clemson to snatch victory from Alabama was an epic sight.

What made the entire saga more compelling for me was the comments Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney made immediately afterward. He relayed conversations that he had with the team before and during the game around the undeniable fact that they would win. In short, he firmly believed that they were supposed to prevail, and acted accordingly.

Conventional wisdom would choose for Clemson to kick the chip shot-esque field goal and take the game into overtime. They only led once in the during the 59.59 minutes before that last drive, and time was not in their favor. But the Tigers were in it to win it. Without hesitation, they executed a play that landed them in the championship spotlight that eluded them just 12 months earlier.

There’s a lesson here for companies. There will be moments, in adherence to a brand promise, where you’ll have to take chances. Sometimes you’ll win, other times you’ll lose. There will be great joys and heartaches along the way. In the long run, though, your organization will prevail far more than the competition. 

Take Costco, for instance. More than a dozen years ago, shareholders were pushing the members-based retail warehouse behemoth Costco to lower their employee’s wages to be more in line with competitors. The argument was that the more they pay out, the less that will go to the bottom line. But CEO Jim Sinegal and his team stuck to their guns, believing that the opposite was true. Treating your employees better actually improved profits, they professed. It was a huge gamble; one that put their jobs on the line. It turns out, the Costco executives were right, and today they consistently outperform their rivals. Getting there wasn’t smooth, but how they went about it was essential to codifying the retailer’s core values. 

When an organization fails to subscribe to its brand promise, it will most certainly fail or, at the very least, shrink in relevance. The future may always be uncertain, and temptations to deviate from your stated norms may even appear prudent in certain instances. Take caution when you do. Organizations that succumb to this line of thinking to do at their own great peril.


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