Damage To the Brand

Submitted by MGlobules on September 28th, 2014 at 5:11 AM

I have always hated having to conceive of my beloved Michigan as a brand; this way of seeing, for me, epitomizes a way of looking at the world that I find poisonous, especially when it comes to institutions and people. And the last thing that I cared to do was look at my school in such a reductive light.

But I dare say that almost anyone would concede that the Michigan "brand" has been deeply damaged by events of the last few weeks, and by the regular humiliations we have visited upon ourselves. It is indeed ironic, but also--for some of us--predictable that this has happened under the leadership of a guy who is famous for saying of the companies he acquired, “If it ain't broke, break it." If I didn't think he was an utterly vacuuos tool, I would totally despise Brandon.

My question is this: Do you think that the damage has been great enough that Harbaugh or Miles might simply not care to be associated with us? Or would removing Brandon and an enormous salary be enough?

My own take is that reviving Michigan looks like a bigger challenge with every passing week. That the best approach may be to canvass the country for some very smart up-and-coming coach, admit we are a reclamation project, and quietly--very quietly--go to work. But the demands of the brand just might not allow that to happen. 



September 28th, 2014 at 5:21 AM ^

The brand is damaged, what with the whole being a national laughing stock right now.

Would be instantly restored if we could lure one of the pipe dream candidates (Harbaughs, Sumlin) though.


September 28th, 2014 at 6:06 AM ^

One good season under a Harbaugh or someone of that caliber would change everything. Michigan still has its history, its budget, and the Big House. Look at the players Hoke has recruited without any actual coaching track record. 

But you have to get someone who is consistent. And Kevin Sumlin and Kirby Smart are not leaving their current positions to come here, unless the department is willing to pay them more than any coach in the country. Why would they? 


September 28th, 2014 at 6:12 AM ^

Immediate termination of Dave Brandon as soon as the right AD candidate is available would be the best thing for the Michigan brand.

Having a reputation for losing and getting destroyed by bottom feeder teams is terrible, but such a thing is erased in time when the program is righted by a new staff.

Having a reputation for blunders such as the 'free tickets with coke purchase' and 'dave brandon watched his football coach verbally duke it out with the OC' will still haunt us all once the team is competitive again under that new staff.


September 28th, 2014 at 6:27 AM ^

Since when does Brandon coach the players? The stuff people don't like about Brandon is political stuff that has nothing to do witht he teams performance  unless you want to claim he is keeping Hoke and shouldn't be.


When a team is losing like this it is the coaching, not the AD, that is the problem.

MGJS SuperKick Party

September 28th, 2014 at 6:41 AM ^

Here is my view why Brandon should be gone:

He will be loyal to Brady Hoke until the end. It's his guy, and he doesn't want it to look bad on him.

Brady Hoke isn't a good football coach. He can't develop talent, he can't win games, and yesterday shows that he is not in tune with his players as much as we thought he was. So, Brady is a loser.

Brandon continues to drive up the prices of the games for the all mighty dollar. But yet, I never get any giveaways, or anything. Instead I get empty pockets from 6 dollar water. Tickets are more expensive too. PSD has increased, the cost of tickets has increased.

So, here I am spending a shit ton of money to watch this team that is lead by a coach who is over his head clueless and can't win games. Not only will we not see Hoke gone next year if it's up to Brandon but we will play more next year due to premium games of MSU and OSU. Which with Hoke were going to get embarrassed AGAIN.


September 28th, 2014 at 6:52 AM ^

Brandon is also present at coaches meetings/video sessions. Inserting himself in such settings undermines the authority of the coaching staff and is further proof that he thinks he is the core of the athletic department and deserves all of the unilateral privilege such a pedestal warrants. I have close family members with decades of experience in college athletic administration at the D-1 level, and they say that is highly unusual and inappropriate.

He is clueless about how the fans feel and even what his job should entail. Someone make him director of a polo club in the Hamptons if he's so hellbent on being in athletics administration. 


September 28th, 2014 at 11:36 AM ^

Brandon did raise prices dramatically, commit the University to an expensive across-the-board athletic department, and choose an unproven (at this level) crony to coach the team leading to the current results.

Brandon might be allowed to fire Hoke and name an interim.  No way should President Schlissel & the regents allow him to choose the non-interim successor.


September 28th, 2014 at 8:17 AM ^

When a team is losing like this it is the coaching, not the AD, that is the problem.

The problem is that Brandon hired Hoke, who was woefully unqualified for the Michigan job giving his prior coaching record, and didn't even deserve CONSIDERATION for the job (and I'm happy to point out how crappy Hoke's pre-Michigan record was).  The single most important decision Brandon had to make he botched epically, and that alone warrants his dismissal.  His repeated corporatization of the athletic department and the football program provide only additional justifications for his termination.  Brandon is not the right man for the job.  

MGJS SuperKick Party

September 28th, 2014 at 6:31 AM ^

Michigan isn't a Brand. Nike is a brand, Kleenex is a brand, Coke is a brand. Michigan is a public university in which I have fond memories and experiences from Undergrad. I refuse to let Brandon sell me Michigan is a brand.

Ok, now that's off my chest, ho do we fix this? Step 1. Go get a new ad who is more concerned with the players and coaches as opposed to the donors and alumni. Step 2: kill the Michigan Man thing. No one knows what that entitles. All I know is Brady and Brandon are ones and RichRod was not one. It's one more filter to run through for our coaching search. Step 3: hire a head coach with a plan. Look at Beilein's success. He has a system and he wins, but he has no Michigan man shit to deal with.

1989 UM GRAD

September 28th, 2014 at 10:18 AM ^

Despite your timeless good looks, Mr. Stamos, you are incorrect . Michigan is and always has been a brand. 

Look up Seth Godin's definition of a brand.  Michigan fits the definition perfectly.

Really, what we are all objecting to is Brandon's misuse and bastardization of the Michigan brand.

There's nothing wrong with being a brand.  In fact, Michigan's brand is extremely strong...which is why so many people, organizations and entities want to be associated with it.

Without the Michigan brand and what it stands for, we are just like any other institution of higher learning.

And please remember that the brand extends far beyond the football team;  it encompasses all elements of the university.


September 28th, 2014 at 12:29 PM ^

The "Michigan Man" thing will never go away when it comes to football.  After the RichRod disaster, it went on overdrive.  And the people who were the most vocal about it were all the former players who I grew up watching and admired.  Once Brady Hoke was hired, all these players kept saying, "Thank GOD we got a Michigan man."  I remember Braylon in particular saying that a ton. 

I love these guys.  I still think of them as heroes.  But they have got to STFU about this "Michigan man" thing.  Bo was not a Michigan man when he was hired in 1968 and look what happened there.


September 28th, 2014 at 7:44 AM ^

I always hesitated to consider Michigan itself a "brand" in the sense of an off-the-shelf product, but I have always said that it has this great problem of "brand equity" in that the name itself has - at least traditionally - attracted quality students, faculty, and yes, even players to come to Ann Arbor. I do see a scenario where that brand equity and the goodwill that comes with it is being drained away with regards to the football program through literally trying to brand and monetize it, along with lackluster on-field performance and various other things. Could it get to a point where certain tiers of coaches and even recruits probably would have to be aggressively sold on Michigan even if they granted us an audience? If we're not careful, it could, I think. We're probably walking the rope, if you will, on this one or we're close to doing that. 


September 28th, 2014 at 8:22 AM ^

Unfortunately, reputations of all of our institutions are affected by the 24/7 media cycle. Does anyone think that the "brand" of OSU remains affected by tatgate?  The Penn State scandal was one of the worst things that could happen to a program.  Is there any question that just a few years after this tradgedy, this scandal will be a mere memory, especially if the football program does well.  The story will be the "resurrection".   This is how it works today.  What Michigan needs to do now is react "well" - take responsibility for our shit and move on as quickly as possible in a different direction.  We may need to wander in the wilderness for an extended period of time, unfortunately. 


September 28th, 2014 at 8:28 AM ^

We will have something to cheer for, don't think branding isn't going on at every university. Michigan is just not winning. Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and all the other big ten (14) powers* have done market research and have branded themselves. The only bottom line is winning. Winning brings money. For a bunch of smart people this seems hard to understand. Special K is only a small annoyance if Michigan goes to Rose Bowls. He is a threat to everything holy when Michigan is 7-6. Go Blue! God help us.


September 28th, 2014 at 8:36 AM ^

Michigan isn't a Brand.  The whole 'brand' nonsense is corporate speak brought over by Brandon. 

The university isn't a brand.  We don't sell pizza.  this is an educational institution of very high standards that also expects high performance from its student athletes.


September 28th, 2014 at 8:36 AM ^

Michigan really hired a man with "brand" as his middle name.

I think Michigan got what it deserved here. You cannot screw around hiring half-assers like Brandon and 47-50 MAC coaches and rely on myths like "Michigan Man" to carry you through. It's horseshit. Just about the only good thing to happen since 2010 is Greg Mattison and Michigan recruiting prowess. But even that may crumble when Hoke is fired, as Mattison is married to Hoke, not Michigan. If Michigan turns on Hoke, I think Mattison will resent it greatly. Either way I'm not sure it much matters. Regardless of who is hired, Michigan football will be a reclamation and salvage project for some time. Fans will be asked for more patience, and frankly they better have it, even with an elite hire. Michigan paid for its coach and AD and placed "michigan man" criteria above competence. Don't do that again.


September 28th, 2014 at 8:52 AM ^

1. Find a replacement AD - This must come first or MU will not get a great head coach.

2. Offer Jim Harbaugh, not John, 10 year deal at $8mm a year plus give him incentive (ie. B1G Champoinship $1mm & National Championship $2mm) He has proven he can coach at the college level, so there is no risk

3. If Jim won't come for $8mm then offer him more until he can't say no.




September 28th, 2014 at 9:17 AM ^

I hate the notion of branding.  That comes from marketing firms trying to help crap companies reinvent themselves from the pit they dug themselves into.  A brand is just a perception of how they want others to perceive them. 

Michigan football is Michigan football.  Right now we suck, but we will be back.  The first order of business is to fix the problems within the program.  We need to get everyone to be pulling in the same direction and get rid of the Carr, Bo,  whomever else factions.  Dave Brandon being sent packing may start that process.  Then we need to hire a coach that is all about winning games and developing student/athletes.

I fear that DB will remain and the healing/rejuvination will be that much further away.


September 28th, 2014 at 11:51 AM ^

IS responsible for destroying the Michigan experience....I won't call it a brand, it is exactly NOT that.
The experience of attending a Michigan game is nothing like it used to be....he has consistently tried to make it more like a pro sporting event which I hate (mostly because I grew up going to M games).

Brandon has jacked up prices, pushed a carnival atmosphere as much as possible, piped in crappy rawk music, alienated the students to the extent they no longer show up, and in essence, taken something that was once special and traditional and turned it into a commodity.

Everything an AD at Michigan is NOT supposed to do...coaching decisions aside.

The attendance sucks mostly because of this and not necessarily because of the results.

The real damage will only be realized in 10 or so years, when M realizes that a whole generation of fans either never came to games because it was too expensive, or came and don't see/experience anything different than a Tigers, Pistons, whatever-pro-sport game and just don't care to pay hugely premium prices. Congratulations at that point Dave Brandon, as you will have successfully pimped the 'brand' to your food service cronies and advertising will be a necessity just to keep the bottom from falling out of the budget.

Does anyone else here think that the Super Bowl experience is a downgrade from a Michigan game (at least what they used to be)?


September 28th, 2014 at 12:29 PM ^

The Brand has been damaged since '07 right after the app st loss. Over the last 6 season has has been tarnished even more. We are the has been. But all major programs have bad stretches of a decade. Hopefully our tough times will be over with a new coach and AD.


September 28th, 2014 at 12:32 PM ^

No chance we land either Harbaugh or Miles IMO.  But that might be a good thing, we need a long term solution here that can bring stability.  Either Harbaugh would just be waiting to get back into the NFL and Miles has talked about retiring young and his showing his age.

Repeat after me, "There are going to be no shortcuts to a solution."  We're going to have to find a young brilliant coach who has won everywhere he's been.  Someone who will stay and rebuild a program from the ground up in his own image.  Someone who will respect the Michigan tradition, but will not defer to it.

We have to get this hire right or we truly cvould fall off the map.  There is a possibility we could be doomed to medicrity for a decade more should we get this one wrong.  Every year more of mediocrity brings us further away from being elite and makes the journey back to elite status that much harder.  10 years without a B1G Title is a tough pill to swallow, no reason to think that won't become 15 years with the current state of this program, our next hire has to be right or it could easily become 20 years.


September 28th, 2014 at 2:44 PM ^

Les Miles is too crazy for the University of Michigan.  His act would play well only when winning championships.  I'm not sure he could recruit the kind of talent to Michigan that he is able to get at LSU.  

David Brandon has damaged the University of Michigan brand in the eyes of coaches across the country.  But the brand will immediately be elevated when they fire David Brandon and hire someone with a reputation for integrity and intellect.