5 Brand Management Lessons from Sochi


The Olympics is an internationally-recognized brand. Excellence, preparation, and success are all principles we see in the Olympic experience.

The Sochi Olympics are coming to a close on Sunday. If anything, this Olympics experience has created a whirlwind of controversy, unrest, and valuable lessons to remember, both during the Sochi Olympics and in the months before them. As one of the most revered brands in history, the Sochi Olympics can teach us five important lessons when it comes to brand management.

Embrace opportunity

Multiple commentators called Sochi the coming out party for the 21st-century Russia. Would this be the same perspective shift as Beijing experienced in 2008? The answer will be clear in the years to come. What is clear is Russia leveraged one of its most valuable treasures, this small resort town with palm trees and beaches, to introduce a new perspective to the world.

When your brand faces an opportunity to improve or change public opinion, seize the day! Use your strengths to make a great impression on your current clients and prospects.

Know how to tell your story

The Opening Ceremony creators faced a highly difficult task in trying to cover Russia’s extensive history and culture. Add in some not-so-pleasant aspects of Russia’s past and the challenge seemed almost impossible. The dynamic success we saw from Russia’s ability to tell their own story well is a Master’s class in brand telling.

The ability to tell your brand’s story is crucial to your future success. Know who you are, know how to tell what you want to remember, and know how to address the good, marginal, and even ugly experiences from the past.

Preparation is priceless

Pundants openly wonder if Sochi should have ever been awarded these Olympics after seeing the lack of preparation. If your brand is ill-prepared for the task on hand, your audience will notice. In a social media world, it’s that much easier for brand blunders to be broadcast in real-time. Be prepared!

Mistakes will happen

The snafu with the fifth Olympic ring in the opening ceremony opened questions. Would this have happened with more practice? Maybe, maybe not. If the past two weeks of competition is any indication though, all the practice in the world doesn’t take the humanity out of performance. Mistakes will happen. How you respond and recover from mistakes tells more about your brand’s character than any success.

Passion is contagious

One of the most avid promoters of these Olympics is Russian president Vladimir Putin. He may not be the most expressive leader in history, but it’s obvious how much he cares about the Sochi Olympics. Whatever his political agenda might be, he’s visiting with people non-stop, attending multiple events each day, and investing in conversation with people.

Your brand needs passion. If you’re passionate about why you do what you do, your market audience will gain that passion, too. Be obvious about your passion. It’s contagious!

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