Lessons in Branding from Tim Tebow

Whether you love Tim Tebow or hate him, it’s highly unlikely that you haven’t heard his name. You have to admit he …

— is very differentiated from his colleagues,
— more visible than almost all of his counterparts despite his rookie status, and
— stands clearly and firmly for his beliefs.

In short, Tebow is a branding sensation. Let’s take a deeper look at a couple of reasons why.


Different might just be an understatement. He’s far from the typical NFL quarterback, but despite being under the bright, and quite critical, spotlight of every single sports commentator, he was taken as a first round draft pick. The “experts” just shook their heads.

He was 3rd string, then 2nd, and then a starter … turning a losing record into an improbable winning record. He suddenly had “rock star” status … some positive, most negative as the “experts” once again just shook their heads.

Then he started losing and suddenly all those “experts” looked pretty smart. Only to be stunned into “Tebowing” when, against ALL odds, he led the Broncos to a record-breaking OT win against the highly-ranked Steeler defense.

He’s unorthodox, and that difference means he is highly visible. Differentiation in the world of Chief Financial Officers seems to be highly under-rated.


Good, bad, or indifferent, Tebow is the most highly-talked about football player in the National Football League. He just might be the most talked-about person in the country.

Google his last name, and you’ll see 8.3M results. Google Tim Tebow and the results are in the neighborhood of 115M.

If you haven’t measured your Google visibility, now is a great time to do so. What, if anything, is Google saying about you? Quantity is good; quality is much, much better.

Tebow’s great visibility is due in large part to his strong, personal brand.


“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” so says Alexander Hamilton. It’s a great definition of “authentic branding.” A well-defined, strong brand attracts those things that are a good fit and repels those that are not. Authentic branding can also create positive and negative buzz. Certainly that is true of Tebow.

What CFOs need to remember about a strong, visible brand is that it speaks to “fit.” Fit within an organization. Fit within a culture. Fit within an executive team. No one – not the employer and certainly not the candidate – wants to make a bad decision on something so critically important as a career move … and “fit” is the most difficult part of the hiring process.

The power of a well-defined, visible brand is crystal clear in the lightening rod named Tim Tebow.

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11 thoughts on “Lessons in Branding from Tim Tebow”

  1. Cindy,

    You know I always enjoy reading your posts, but this one is on the money!

    Between you and me (and whoever else is reading this), we don’t exactly expect CFOs to all rise to the fame of Tim Tebow.

    One additional point CFOs can learn from Tebow is: Passion

    CFOs need to lead. To get others to lead, they must show their passion, which includes commitment and values. CFOs are successful have great teams to support them.

    CFOs that lead with passion will be visible. It’s easy to be visible, when too many CFOs are uninspiring.

    Samuel Dergel – The CFO Expert
    Stanton Chase International

  2. Cindy,

    This is the first I have heard Tebow associated with us finance people, but the association is apt. One of my long ago Treasury Cafe posts was about being different – in finance there is a fine line that we must straddle between being different and being too different.

  3. -People who are like us we trust.-

    I totally agree, David, which is why bold, authentic branding is so powerful. Being visibly well-branded attracts “like” things while “repelling” those things that are not a good fit.

    -People who follow the crowd are not dangerous, because everybody else is doing the same thing, so it must be the correct thing to do. The term conservative in some contexts means “not too different than anybody else”.-

    Sadly, this is the mindset of far-too-many CFOs in my opinion. Looking like everybody else “usually” means falling back on the responsibilities/duties version of self-marketing rather than boldly positioning oneself as a problem solver who has – and can again – solve the kinds of problems a company is facing.

    If a company is looking at 10 resumes and every single resume comes from the “blend in because it’s scary to stand out” mindset, what is the motivation to pick up your resume rather than someone else’s?

    I can certainly understand how the concept of being boldly differentiated (well-branded) can be scary … but when it is grounded in authenticity (manifesting the very core of who you are), it really is all good, beneficial, and most effective.

    Thanks for reading and for commenting, David. Your insights are always appreciated and valued.

  4. Thank you Cindy. I really enjoyed reading this post. I am a Tebow fan because of all your excellent points you highlighted and how he ‘brands’ himself. In my business I speak with dynamic CFO’s every day. Tim Tebow like any successful CFO has the skills to influence, collaborate to inspire team work and display truly inspirational unique leadership! Thank you. Regards, Denise Roussel

    • Thanks Denise! I so appreciate you reading and taking time to comment!

      If it isn’t obvious, I’m a huge Tebow (and Gator) fan. I’ve followed Tim since he was a freshman at Florida and truly admire all the leadership skills you cite, his steadfast value positioning, and his ability to always rise above the fray and offer encouragement from such a place of humility. Perhaps I’ll need to write a follow on post about the leadership skills CFOs and other executives could learn from this young man.

  5. I stand corrected …

    –To be accurate, Mr. Tebow isn’t a rookie, he is in his second season in the NFL. He was drafted 25th of the 2010 draft, meaning he played the 2010-2011 season (starting the final 3 games of that year for Denver) and this year the 2011-2012 season.– Thanks Dave!

    I guess that’s what happens when a Gator moves to Denver and I never get to see any of his game. I whole season just passed right by me.

  6. Cindy, good stuff! I used Tebow as an example of personal branding in a recent blogtalk radio program for Product Managers. They provided your link as one of the resources and I’m now getting a moment to read. I agree with you on the power of his personal brand.


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