Tim Tebow was the biggest brand in college football just three years ago. During a career at the University of Florida from 2006-9, he set records in career passing efficiency and total rushing touchdowns in the Southeastern Conference (considered by many football fans to be the most competitive conference in the country).
Tebow’s teams sported a 48-7 record during his four-year career and won two national championships. He won the Heisman Trophy, emblematic of college football’s best player, in 2007, when he became the first college football player to both rush and pass for 20 or more touchdowns in a single season.
Now, Tebow is among the biggest brands in professional football, in just his second National Football League season. His number 15 Denver Broncos jersey is the largest-selling among all NFL players. Last weekend, he threw a game-winning touchdown pass in the first play of overtime to capture Denver’s first playoff victory in six years — spawning a record 9,420 tweets per second, according to Twitter.
But the two Tim Tebows are totally different brands, even though both have been successful.
So, what would one of the most-successful college quarterbacks of all time even need or want to change?
The answer: Because.
Tebow’s lifelong ambition was to play in the NFL as a quarterback. Not so easy, despite all the accolades: Many pro scouts considered his throwing motion (where he drew the ball back to his waist, rather than his shoulder, before throwing) to be unsuited for the NFL. Mel Kiper Jr., an ESPN pro football scouting analyst, was quoted as saying: “I don’t think he can be a full-time quarterback.” Given his relatively large size for a QB and his ability to run the football out of the shotgun formation, Tebow was labeled a running quarterback — faint praise and to many a way of saying he didn’t have what it took to succeed in an NFL offense.
Tim Tebow had a track record to think he was good enough. But he took it on himself to change. In a recent documentary about his preparation for the 2010 NFL draft, Tebow said:
“What we wanted to work on with my throwing motion was, really, get the loop out of it. Make it as quick as possible.”
Tebow’s goal became to change his muscle memory (a specific motor task put into memory through repetition) in order to show professional scouts that he was ready for the NFL. He needed to get his body to routinely make a different throwing motion, after four highly successful years in college. It took this elite athlete several coaches and about three weeks of 12-hour training days to change. Noted one of his coaches: “It’s going to take … 2,000 to 3,000 times doing something before you start to ingrain it in your muscles.”
Evidently, he changed enough: Tebow was selected by the Denver Broncos with the 25th pick in the first round in the 2010 NFL draft, and led his team to the NFL playoffs after the most recent 2011 season while leading fourth-quarter rallies for his team.
What lessons does Tim Tebow provide for you and your insurance brand?
- Sometimes you need to change your brand because somebody else thinks so.
- What you do well and what you need to improve both feed your brand.
- Even the best at one level have to change to get to the next level. (A brand’s muscle memory might be doing something because it’s successful, but that doesn’t mean it will be effective in the future.)
- Forgetting what you did before, and changing to something new, is difficult. It takes time and toil.
- It can take a purposeful and sustained effort to create a new routine and a different environment.
Question: What do you think needs changing in good insurance brands?
UPDATE: See a story in American Agent and Broker about insurance industry spokespersons.Photo attribution: Flickr.com/photos/denverjeffrey/