When your brand is a household name and your career has spun two centuries over a thirty-five year period in one of the most competitive fields in the world, the bet is that you’re doing some things right.
Hulk Hogan hardly needs an introduction. A legend in his own lifetime he is also more than just the iconic face of a sport that has millions of fans across the globe. He has used his talents as a wrestler and his physique to fashion a career but his lasting power comes from his business acumen, carefully developed over the years.
In a Hangout-On-Air organised in November 2013 by Ben Fisher the Hulk himself shared some of the lessons he’s learnt along the way.
1. Believe in yourself. This is self-evident yet most businesses look for validation of what they do outside themselves, looking to follow others instead of leading, copying practices they do not understand. As a result they often find themselves doing things that do not completely fit in with their character and, in time, end up losing their way completely.
2. Be consistent in the values you project. At a time when much of what we do in the semantic web needs to be authentic and capable of generating trust in our target audience, consistency in our core values and the voice we use to communicate with our audience is key to the identity a business fashions for itself. Hulk Hogan has remained steadfast to the image he projects throughout the years and though he has evolved in tune with his audience he has never strayed from the basics of who he is.
3. Do not just be commercial. The Hulk Hogan brand and the Hulk Hogan image are a business and a business is there to make money but if that’s all you’re after then the chances are that you will fail to give your target audience anything more than a superficial product or service that any of your competitors can’t give equally well or better. Brand loyalty is earned rather than bought and what earns it is engagement. Engagement, by default, means authenticity, shared values and a willingness to be open and perhaps even vulnerable. These are attributes that traditional business do exceedingly badly at. The lasting power and loyal following of the Hulk Hogan brand through Hulkamania suggest that “just being in it for the money” is exactly what a business should not do.
4. Synthesize everything in an authentic whole. In many ways step four is the natural outcome of all the other three. Hulk Hogan himself says that when you have your brand and you have your following and you have your product that’s not enough. It cannot be bits and pieces that are compartmentalized from each other because when things go a little wrong, and they inevitably will, what keeps it all together is the fact that you have integrated everything into a seamless entity. Then the brand and the service or product and the message, the values and the fans are all part of who you are and what you do. And that makes everything a lot more enjoyable.
The Social Media Message of Branding
Paradoxically for a brand that started his career in the pre-internet age, Hulk Hogan’s very showbiz, people-powered line of work makes his insights valuable in the social media age. The same dynamics that turned a hulking wrestler into the darling of the globe’s teens (and adults) apply when you’re trying to find your audience and make sure you stay true to their expectations.
Hulk Hogan’s two additional insights then cover this.
5. Listen and learn all the time. Hulk Hogan is talking about being invested in his audience, listening to them and their expectations and evolving in keeping with them. Frequently this is something that brands fail to do. The Gap Logo fiasco of 2010 is a prime example of a brand thinking it knows best at an age when the online audience is empowered, well-informed and vocal.
6. Work with your audience. This is a truth that becomes self-evident after Hulk Hogan explains it. He says that people with attitude are frequently scared or misunderstood. Their attitude is a defence mechanism that needs to be peeled away. The core is always better because people are essentially good. This is something that many businesses forget. In the hurly-burly world of competition they often end up seeing the customer as the enemy rather than the friend he should be.
Now, treat yourself to the video with the man himself:
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