The Year of the Upset and What it Means for Your Brand

For tennis fans, Wimbledon 2013 provided the best of sports mythology. A little-known French player, Marion Bartoli, was crowned women’s champion, and Scottish player Andy Murray brought the championship title back to the United Kingdom after 77 long-suffering years. The crowds went wild—cheering not only for Murray, who was not favored to win, but for themselves and their country.

All of this made for great sport and even better theatre. But Wimbledon isn’t the only place where people expound the underdog. Modern political campaigns are largely debates about whose beginnings are most humble. And Matt Damon has recently claimed that he’s glad he’s not as famous as Brad Pitt

The beauty in being an underdog is that everyone roots for the underdog.

What does this mean for brands? 

Social technologies make people wonder what is real—what is deserving of their trust. That means the increasing use of screen interfaces actually raises the stakes for the in-person experience. In the 20th century, brands were defined by how we dressed them up—their look and feel, and the environments we created for them. Today, it’s about how a brand behaves that communicates its value. Many small companies—classic corporate underdogs—already understand this. 

Behavior will be the hallmark of future brands. It’s going radically human—not radically social or radically techno—that will help you win.

And failure to adapt, to capture the hearts of the customer by revealing your own vulnerabilities, will leave an opening your competitors are clamoring to fill. 

If you don’t want to take my word for it, believe Britt Daniel.