Ordem e Progresso


I must come clean immediately – I’m not a football fan.

I don’t hate it, I’m just not that in to it.

However as a casual observer of the 2014 World Cup, even I could tell last night’s semi-final 7-1 demolition of Brazil by Germany was no ordinary game.

I know only too well what emotional investment Brazilians have in their national football team.  My British wife spent more or less the first 15 years of her life growing up there and probably feels more at home in Brasilia than Birmingham. Losing isn’t an option – it’s unacceptable.

This isn’t as unreasonable as it sounds given that Brazil are the most successful team in the history of the FIFA World Cup, with five wins on four different continents.

Brazilians simply expect their team to win and to win in style.

Yet what last night’s game demonstrated was how reputation and expectation are cruel masters. The higher they are, the greater the pressure to perform and you certainly can’t rely on past glories to get you through. Or star players.

So when Germany exercised uniformity, discipline and purpose and didn’t deviate from their pressing style of play, Brazil quickly unraveled and resembled a dumbstruck under-11 side who forgot why they were there.

This was ironic considering Brazil’s national motto translates as Order and Progress.

This got me thinking about brand reputation and how easily it can be undone if a brand’s purpose isn’t clear. The why not the what.

Nokia forgot it needed to make communication easier.  HMV forgot to celebrate the excitement of music. Comet forgot to provide useful service.

From the CEO to the new trainee, if you’re all clear about why you’re really there then you can do extraordinary things with apparent ease.