Hop Off My Brand-Wagon

brand wagon

Most sports fans are familiar with the concept of band-wagoning, or people attaching to a particular team as victory approaches. Similarly, in business, people may attach to your brand to extract collateral value for themselves. Protect yourself by following these tips to avoid, assess, and address potential brand-wagoners.  

Avoid: Legal measures protect you from external competitors, but brand-wagoning often comes from those closest to us.

  • Present your team with a variety of ideas and arenas. Exposure to new topics reduces the likelihood of attachment to any singular brand, namely yours.

  • Empower team members with resources to branch out. Discuss their needs, and encourage them to be themselves.

  • Diversify your team. Entrusting the same one or two people with everything creates a power imbalance within the team and increases your susceptibility to brand-wagoning.

Assess: Brand-wagoning often resembles loyalty or support. Pay attention, and remember that brand-wagoners take more than they give.

  • They don’t contribute, combat, or develop ideas in meetings. If they are present but rarely offer insight or feedback, it may be a façade to gain exposure to others’ innovative ideas.

  • They don’t invest in your company or purchase your product. If they attend promotional events without ever putting money behind you, they may be stocking up on personal connections and other valuable information to run off with later.

    Address: Do not make assumptions. Approach the situation carefully, asking critical questions and clarifying the scope of the partnership.
  • Question team members about their goals. Your team members should have their own aspirations. If they give vague, roundabout answers, they may be band-wagoning.

  • Encourage them to be honest about what they want. Check in with them to gauge their feelings about the partnership, and create an environment where they feel comfortable asking for more or less.

Your brand is an ever-evolving representation of yourself. You worked hard to build it. Avoid brand-wagoners by surrounding yourself with ambitious, critical thinkers with different end goals. Assess your team regularly but not suspiciously. Simple conversations about their honest expectations, desires, and contributions helps ensure their productivity and your protection.