Putting your eggs in one basket

Putting your eggs in one basket

Brian Chau is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall

Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Martha Stewart - all mighty brand names, with all too-famous stumbles.

Personal branding is a powerful tool - our minds subconsciously create the association, and without knowing, we suddenly consider Accenture as a lean, mean consulting machine. However, what happens when the unthinkable happens? The once sterling façade of the knight in shining armour falls down… and out steps a man, with flaws that remind us that he is all too human.

In his blog posting, Mike Madison takes a look at personal branding, specifically that of Tiger Woods, from an intellectual property perspective. He discusses the fall of Tiger, self-dilution, and the logical fallacies in assuming that the attributes of his golf game translate seamlessly to all things Tiger - whether it is Accenture, Gillette, or his personal life. One of his key points is that Tiger lumped everything into his brand, and while this may have served as a strength in the past, they are now exposed to risk as a result of the scandal.

Trademark owners should keep a keen eye on these developments - the meltdown of Tiger Woods will, in addition to making golf a little less interesting, prove to be a case study in how owners should mitigate risk, and potentially recover from a catastrophic branding mistake. In trademark, these types of problems often occur.  When an owner fails to maintain standards in a good bearing a mark,  all the goods bearing this mark may end up suffering.

What I’m curious to see is whether this will have broader reaching social impacts on how brands, and also trademarks, are perceived by the public. Will the proximity and strength of the relationship play a part? And if so, will it accelerate or negate the damage? For example, Tiger advertised for both Nike and Accenture - what impacts will this have on the perception of Nike’s golf performance goods (which Tiger Woods actually has a proximate relationship with) as compared to Accenture (a management consultancy that has little to no relationship to the skills that made Tiger famous)?