What Can WWE's John Cena Teach You About Brand Building?

Source: WWE/superstars/johncena
Earlier this summer, I attended an Experian marketing conference in Las Vegas, where I was rather surprised to see WWE champ John Cena on the agenda. Intrigued, I stuck around for his late afternoon session to see what he had to say. I’m glad I did. It turns out John Cena is a great brand builder. This Massachusetts-born native is a $100 million brand with 5.3 million Twitter followers and more than 15 million Facebook fans — just behind Kobe Bryant at 16 million. What’s his secret? Here are three brand-building lessons from John Cena: 
  • Be customer-obsessed. Forrester believes that in the 21st century, the single source of competitive advantage is to be customer-obsessed. Cena gets this. He understands that his brand is only as strong as his relationship with his fans. And he takes that responsibility seriously. Cena claims you won’t find pictures of him at a Miami club, surrounded by a bevy of scantily clad women. His tweets depict his clean-cut image and are PG-appropriate. 
  • Guide your journey with a clear North Star. Leading brands guide their brand, messaging, products, and organization by the light of their North Star — that core brand essence. Oreo’s North Star is to “celebrate childhood.” Cena guides his career with the mantra “hustle, loyalty, and respect.”
  • Build a trusted brand. Cena is trusted by his fans because he is authentic and passionate about who he is and what he does. As he commented, “you have to be authentic, even when you are falling down in a fake fight in a fake universe.”  
In the brand marketing world, trust is everything. Earlier this year, Forrester began a series of Consumer Technographics® research studies to uncover the drivers of a TRUE brand — one that is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential. The research shows that in categories as diverse as health and beauty, food and beverage, big-box retail, and financial services, trust is fundamental to a strong brand. It is a strong independent driver of brand resonance — that emotional connection between consumers and a brand that means that they are more likely to prefer, recommend, and pay a premium price for your brand.  
 
You can learn more about how trust, not buzz, drives CPG categories of health and beauty as well as food and beverage. And keep an eye out for upcoming reports that will reveal how financial services and big-box retail brands fare with their customers. 
 
What have you learnt from celebrity brand builders?