We recently had Bruce Jones, the Disney Institute’s programming director, on the Eyes On The Future radio program on 1180 WHAM. For some season, shortly after our discussion about Walt Disney’s approach to key business principles such as leadership, service, people management, brand loyalty and creativity, I began to think about brand loyalty and the Buffalo Bills.
Bruce said that the key to building and maintaining brand loyalty is to deliver on the promise of your brand. I thought about how the Buffalo Bills haven’t lived up to their promise of winning since the 1999-2000 season, the last time they made the playoffs. Of course, that playoff game in 1999 was the excruciatingly painful “Music City Miracle” defeat.
As Bills fans we are conditioned to suffer I guess. Despite that suffering (four straight Super Bowl losses, Music City Miracle, 10 years running of awful football), we still root for them every Sunday, we still go to the games, we still buy jerseys. Heck, I have the misfortune of owning a Trent Edwards jersey!
Would I go to a restaurant for 10 years if the meals and service were bad almost every time? Of course not! But, sports teams are lucky, they can maintain that brand loyalty to a majority of their audience no matter how bad their product is, because sports fans are loyal.
Despite that, it’s time for the Bills product to be good. Bruce Jones said that every great organization has a strong leader at the top, and that’s what the Bills need to be good again. While I am not asking for a leader on the level of Walt Disney, I am asking for a general manager and head coach with a proven track record. I don’t care if the Bills have to spend $15 million per year to get that duo, or coach who can do both jobs. They have to do whatever it takes, and merely trying for a Super Bowl coach like a Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan or Tony Dungy or Mike Holmgren won’t be enough. The Bills have to land him. They have no choice. Only after the Bills get those strong leaders can they address the glaring lack of talent on the field.
The Bills may not have lost their brand loyalty, but they have lost their credibility, which is why I admit, I have no faith they will hire that top tier head coach or GM. Besides, who wants to go to a team that has little talent, plays a game a year in Toronto, and might move to Toronto or LA at anytime?
Nonethess, they have to find a way to get it done. It’s time for the Bills to deliver on their promise. It’s time to actually have a head coach with an impressive resume. It’s time to have a strong leader.
It’s time to win.