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It’s a surreal time to be a Browns fan. After a year (and four episodes of Hard Knocks) of anxious waiting, endless debate, and relentless optimism, the shiny new football season started with a tie-versus-perpetual-nemesis-Pittsburgh Steelers thud. Are we happy about not losing? Or angry at not winning? Are we just relieved that the streak is over-ish?

A tie is a strange middle ground. It’s a kind of purgatory, where you can’t say things are great, but it’s better than the alternative. It can be tempting to view parity as a moral victory.

But that’s a mistake – for football players, and for brands. And while we probably can’t help the Browns overcome this not-loss, we’ve learned a thing or two that might help brands score the game-winning field goal:

Know your target.

Really know them—not just as a revenue generator, but as the human beings they are. Study not only how they interact with your brand, but how they engage with the world around them. The more you know about what makes them tick, the more opportunity you have to create relevance that feels natural and valuable.  And if your customer happens to be a geriatric, self-starting sweetheart who spreads goodwill on your behalf? Then consider yourself very lucky, Hershey.

Call an audible.

In football, the playbook creates a framework for how the team should operate based on its strengths. But there’s always room to act on an opportunity. This type of planning is essential for brands, too. Create alignment around who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why that matters, and you’ll be better equipped to embrace change without diluting your brand. (See: burger chain Five Guys finally coming around to this whole “advertising” idea.)

Don’t play to the level of your competition.

In many industries, there’s an accepted way of doing things. A method, a mix, a philosophy that is generally accepted as what “works.” And when brands stick to what “works,” they sacrifice opportunities to lead. Don’t be afraid to act on what you observe about your target, your market, or the world in general. Identify what you can own, and own it. And that includes chicken wings coated in Cheetos.

Let’s leave the “a tie is a win!” mentality–and the competition—in the dust. I swear guys, those Bud Lights from the Victory Fridges will be so worth it. 

Have a blowout weekend, everybody.

-Your undefeated friends at Brokaw

Create alignment around who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why that matters.

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