Arizona brand beats Duke brand

“Lute (Olson) is one of the top coaches to ever coach in college and that brand never went away, even though there were some not-so-good things happening, and then Sean (Miller) is just a heck of a coach. He’s a really good guy, but he’s a great coach and he had his team so well prepared. It was a great hire for them, to build back a brand that was right — you know, it’s there.” — Duke men’s basketball CEO Mike Krzyzewski, after last night’s season-ending loss to Arizona.

Coach K’s right — Sean Miller has really rebuilt that Arizona brand. At this juncture, Duke basketball’s brand managers are probably looking at that turnaround and asking themselves some difficult questions. Are we delivering on Duke basketball’s brand promise? Are we effectively communicating our value proposition? Are there fundamental flaws in our brand architecture?

Identifying Duke’s problems weaknesses challenges potential growth areas opportunities will require some soul-searching, a deep dive into the current state of the Duke basketball brand; the 30,000-foot view won’t be enough. Assess every touchpoint with customers. Focus-group this thing. Put some black-belt, Six sigma mojo on it.

Who knows what K’s brand management team will find? Maybe Duke’s frontline staff have been operating in silos, and it’s time to tear down the walls between them. Vertically integrate. Challenge the status quo. But as K and his team do so, they need to make sure they’re defining roles and clearly communicating action steps to each member of the team. Really flesh out that vision for the future state, and identify the change agents who can drive the process.

Once Duke’s defined the problems challenges opportunities, K should launch the solution phase of the process with an off-site, all-hands brainstorming session to start: a no-holds-barred approach where no idea, no matter how back-of-the-envelope, is dismissed. It takes that sort of environment to really cultivate outside-the-box thinking. K may want to bring in some outside thought leaders, critical thinkers who are plugged into best practices for reviving an aging declining faltering opportunity-blessed basketball brand.

The good news for Krzyzewski is that his company organization team family has a lot of quality human capital to draw on. K’s going to need buy-in all the way up to the C suite. But getting sweat equity from everyone shouldn’t be a problem for Coach K. The man knows how to motivate.

I think K’s management team is going to find that this isn’t a burning platform situation. The solutions here are evolutionary, not revolutionary. But that doesn’t mean there are going to be easy solutions. Just bringing in new brand ambassadors next year won’t solve the problem. There are no Band-aids for Duke’s problems issues opportunities and no workarounds to greatness excellence increased market share.

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2 Responses to Arizona brand beats Duke brand

  1. Deron says:

    The Arizona brand is lay low for a couple of years, stockpile some athletic dynamos, and then explode onto the scene. Arizona has a habit of making deep tourney runs when no one expects them to. Then they usually don’t perform up to expectations in the seasons when they are expected to go deep in the tourney. This team reminds me of the ’97 team that caught everyone by surprise. I feel bad for UConn; I think they have no answer for Arizona’s talent.

    http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/03/arizona-wildcats-this-team-reminds-me.html

    • Jimmy Ryals says:

      The ‘Zona brand is in good shape. As an N.C. State fan, I hope we can steal CEO Sean Miller and bring him back east. But each tournament win makes him a little less attainable.

      I don’t make a practice of rooting for UNC, but I’d love to see how John Henson would handle Derrick Williams in a Final Four matchup.

      You’ve got a great blog. Thanks for the comment.

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