Lance Has Trashed His Brand
Lance Armstrong provides a strong lesson for any of us who have a brand that we try to develop. He came forward on Oprah’s show and admitted that he has lied about doping for years. To cycling officials, to his sponsors, to all of us. He threatened and even sued people who told the truth about him. He accepted millions in sponsorship money under false pretenses. And now he admits all of this!
Recovering the Brand
Lance has admitted victimizing nearly everyone who had any type of relationship with him. He didn’t just lie; he attacked anyone who insisted on the truth with threats and even lawsuits. He started a charity–that’s done a lot of good–based on his good example. He’s now trying to salvage any part of his reputation–the Lance Armstrong brand–that he can recover.
I remember that in the early 80s I had a brokerage account at a major company that one day admitted that they had been scamming the banks where they had accounts. They had stolen several million dollars from the banks. When I went to the firm to close my account, my broker told me that I didn’t have to worry–that the firm had never taken a dime from any customer. My reply was that I’d rather deal with firms who didn’t steal from anyone! That scandal wrecked the company; they’re now gone from the scene.
Lance is is far worse shape, having deceived everyone. And then loudly proclaiming that he wasn’t deceiving anyone. Sporting figures exemplify the ideals of striving and succeeding; Lance’s example is in cheating and lying on a scale hitherto unknown. It’s hard to imagine that he can ever recover his once-priceless brand.
The Bottom Line
Our brands reflect how we behave toward our customers, our suppliers and our opponents. When we’re tempted to cut a corner, the “Washington Post test” is good to keep in mind–how would we like to read about what we’re about to do on the front page of the Washington Post tomorrow morning?