Would people buy your branding item?

Did you get to take a vacation this summer?  If so, do you remember it at this point? Either way, hope it was as fantastic as ours.

We were fortunate to take a family vacation to Italy this summer at the end of my son’s summer school in Paris … geez, I wish I had his life!  We spent three action-packed days in Rome and it is simply amazing!

There was one experience that stuck with me and made me consider how leaders today can instill a great fan-base from those they lead.  I realized that humans have not changed much since the ancient Romans.  Back in the Roman Empire glory days, the rulers (AKA politicians) wanted to communicate and entertain their “people” – anything to keep them occupied and satisfied to avoid any sort of rebellion.

The Coliseum was built for such a place.  Since the literacy rate was tiny and TV was yet to be invented, the Coliseum was used to demonstrate & tell the story of the battles that were happening during the rise of the Roman Empire.  This is also where the gladiators came to entertain the masses.  If you are familiar with the movie, The Gladiator, you’ll remember there are two types of gladiators.  Those that were slaves – disposable and able to serve as dinner for the wild animals as well as the “enemy warriors” that the professional Gladiators fought, re-enacting those battle scenes.  Learning more about these practices made me realize how we still honor leaders and heroes.

ANCIENT ROME: The “team owner”, Nero, in this case, built a statue of himself – 98 feet tall, named “Colossus”, hence the naming of the Coliseum – the ultimate branding item!
TODAY’S WORLD: Team owners build massive arenas to promote their prized teams, (i.e., Cowboy Stadium) – OK, Jerry Jones’ ego may be slightly in check since he didn’t build a massive statue of himself next to it.

ANCIENT ROME:  The professional Gladiators had distinct living quarters and came to work at the Coliseum via the underground tunnel to arrive on stage to crazed fans.
TODAY’S WORLD:  Our football heroes also have distinctive living quarters & while they may not walk to work, they do enter the “arena of the day” via a tunnel to arrive on the athletic stage to crazed fans.

ANCIENT ROME:  As the professional gladiators re-enacting the battle scenes were winning and conquering vast portions of the world, they became heroes.  People love to have someone go to battle for them and win!  Those gladiator were representing the leadership of their country and fighting to protect those in their domain.
TODAY’S WORLD:  We make winning athletes heroes and they often serve as leaders of their team & community.  If “our” team can beat their opponent, it’s like they are winning that all-important battle and protecting our turf.  If out team wins – we win!

ANCIENT ROME:  This one blew me away!  Even in ancient Rome, branding items existed for the favorite gladiators.  There was a practice side to this one as spectators needed a way to see the road home after a long day at the Coliseum events.  Instead of shirts and hats, oil lamps were decorated with images of the hero gladiators – check out this picture.
TODAY’S WORLD:  We revere our athlete heroes & proudly wear their name on t-shirts, hats, jerseys … you name it.  We want to affiliate with that team leader and show our support!

So my question for you to ponder is this:  Are you the kind of leader that is worthy of your very own branding item?  History proves that if you lead, protect, defend and go to battle for your people they will see you as a hero and will support you like a crazed fan!  Think about it … if you can’t answer a definitive “YES”, ask yourself another question.  “What am I going to do to convert my people into crazed fans?”  For those of you who consider yourself worthy, send me a note and tell me what you would choose for your branding items.  I’ll tweet it out to the world to rally your follower (fan) base! @mduesterhoft