Breaking a brand

Tiger Woods’ brand is worth $82 million according to Forbes, as big as that sounds, it is down from the $110 million he was worth in 2008. Woods started his professional golf career in 1996 after signing his first endorsement deal from Nike and Titleist (totaling $60 million). It took approximately 12 years to increase his brand value by $50 million (an increase of about $4 million a year)—to a personal net worth of about $600 million (with endorsements equaling nearly $1 billion).

When Tiger Woods’ personal endeavors were brought into the limelight, we saw that his $4 million annual growth took a downward—$14 million—dip. While “money isn’t everything” the most detrimental evidence of his Brand’s demise is a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll conducted in December 2009 that shows his “favorable” rating dropping to 33% (versus 85% in 2005) and his “unfavorable rating” increasing from 8% to 57% within four years. You don’t need to be a mathematician to see the correlation between money and favorableness.

Before his 2009 car crash that led to his infidelity scandal, Tiger Woods was seen as an untouchable brand that commanded the respect of children looking to dream big and inspired adults to work hard to accomplish any goal. Within a matter of seven months, his brand’s value has decreased to nearly 14% of its starting point; with Woods’ top sponsors (Accenture, Nike, Gillette, Electronic Arts and Gatorade) losing 2-3% of their aggregate market value1.

It is far too often that individuals and companies may not see the immediate effect of one’s action and how it affects one’s brand. Marshall Goldsmith of Bloomberg Businessweek says, “the image of your brand is a perception held in someone else’s mind. Personal branding entails managing this perception effectively and influencing how others perceive you and what they think of you” (Authentic Personal Branding).

Every action, non-action, and quote should be made keeping your brand in mind. As a firm believer in all actions coming to light at some point, it is easier to avoid these tarnishes than it is to enact damage control to resolve them. While Woods is losing millions of dollars in endorsements and could lose up to $500 million in a divorce settlement, the damage to his brand may never be recoverable.

1 Kinttel, Christopher, and Victor Stango. “Shareholder Value Destruction following the Tiger Woods Scandal.” University of California (2009): 10. Web. 11 May 2010. <>.