Is the answer to success in AFL (or the marketplace) as simple as growing a mullet hair style?
You could easily think this in the reportage of Friday nights AFL final between Adelaide and Fremantle, with titles like Walker leads Crows to final win (ABC).
Despite the fact that there was a whole TEAM of players on the field for the crows, anyone would think Taylor Walker won the game for them single handedly.
It is certainly true he played a good game and his goals were well needed, but his role is to kick goals while other team members who thwarted Freo attacks made similarly important contributions.
But I would like to argue there are more complex elements at work in the extra hype and attention that follows Taylor Walker than the ‘novelty’ of a ‘Bogan’ haircut in an elite and professional sport, and it has it’s roots in Oscar Wilde.
As we work through these thoughts below, consider Taylor Walker is actually your business or organisation, as this simple exercise might give you a ‘novel’ lens for reviewing your marketing and branding.
Let’s start with what Oscar’s got to do with it.
There’s only one thing worse than AFL coverage without Taylor Walker …
One of Oscar Wilde’s most famous quips is that:
There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that’s NOT being talked about
In the case of Taylor Walker, it appears that he or someone close to him has decided to go through the AFL player machine front and centre, and I can identify two key factors:
The first is that he knows how to kick a footy and read the game. These skills set you up for making the most of opportunities in a game. There would have been much hard work and commitment to get here along with a gnawing feeling in the back of your mind about all the young boys and mens vying to get into AFL teams and working their ways through the ranks. This awareness of your competition does tend to push us to perform at our best.
The second is that mullet hair cut, which looks so out of place in a modern, professional, elite sport. And yet, maybe for this reason alone, it must make sure he is talked about. It makes sense looking for a device like this because one of the greatest fears of any new players is to make sure they are ‘top of mind’ of the coach and selection panel, and later by media outlets looking for commentators.
We have learned that having some physical or vocal quirk can be a real help in making sure you get talked about, especially in AFL circles, such as was the case with:
- Warwick Capper (known for skimpy shorts)
- Robert DiPierdomenico (known for his huge moustache)
- Jason Akermanis (known for his blonde locks, big mouth and exuberant gymnastics after a win)
Given that humans are visual creatures, these identifying marks can be potent.
So what about your brand?
What this means for you in your business or organisation is that if you believe Oscar Wilde and yet you do everything you can to appear like a such-and-such entity ought to appear, you are making it very easy for us to never pay attention to you.
For your business, you have some questions to ponder (the sorts of questions my colleagues and I lead businesses and organisations through daily), namely:
- Quality of product service (quality is important, even necessary for success, but it is not sufficient on its own)
- Opportunities in the market (what are the unmet needs in the marketplace that you are ideally positioned for meeting?)
- Competitive environment (who are the main competitors and what does the playing field look like?)
- Sustainable point of difference (can you really isolate something or things you do that the market actually craves and competitors will find hard or impossible to copy?)
- Markers of success or progress (what will success look like – goals and milestones?)
Of course this does leave the ‘wilde’ card factor untouched: It is one thing to change or do something to win our attention but it is another thing to actually choose a device that is potentially negative like the mullet.
Each business and organisation will need to find its own comfort zone in becoming chatworthy among their selected target markets. But to paraphrase Mr Wilde, perhaps there is only one thing worse than not finding your comfort zone, and that is FINDING your comfort zone.
Here’s to your success.