What Rocky Teaches Us About Building Great Brands

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How can a 50 year old clichéd pot-boiler of a movie teach all we need to know about how to build a brand? Because it ticks all the boxes of The 5 Elements of Well-Being, as taught by legendary film exec Lindsay Doran.

The 5 Elements of Well-Being

If businesses did a yearly 5 point inspection on their brand efforts based on these elements, the likelihood of creating a more memorable brand increases by…oh screw ROI… just read on.


Rocky’s a washed up palooka who is given a shot at the title when the Champ, Apollo Creed looks to find an easy to beat opponent.
That very premise elicits Positive Emotions in the audience, as let’s face it, we are all mostly average and generally underdogs in Love and Life. We have hope for Rocky, and hope is a very Positive Emotion.

Climb Those Steps!

Rocky, coached by his cynical Trainer, drinks lots of raw eggs, beats the crap out of raw meat, runs the cheering Philadelphia neighborhoods, and then…Rocky Balboa bounds up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in one of the most memorable, inspirational scenes ever captured on film and shown in a dark room to strangers.

To this day – 50 years later – it resonates with the people all over the world. It is the perfect representation of Positive Accomplishment.

Mark Glazier, a welder from British Columbia, ran the steps with a tear in his eye:

“Everybody knows what it is that brings you here,” he told me. “It’s the feeling, man. You come here for the feeling, that you can accomplish something…”

Win By Losing

Rocky goes the distance with Creed- the second moment of Positive Accomplishment. But he loses! How can that be Positive?
Because he went the distance.
This leads to Positive Relationships, which is all the women in the audience care about. While guys are cheering every round, the women wait to see how this accomplishment positively changes his Relationship with the world, and they find out in two words: Yo Adrian!

Now, the woman he loves, loves him too. The trainer that doubted him respects him, and the city that forgot him celebrates him.

Meaning Matters

But what really makes Rocky the American Film Institute’s most inspirational film of the 20th Century is the last element it checks: Meaning.
Because the meaningful stories about life are stories of resilience. We lose, we overcome loss. We go on.

The Takeaway for Marketers

Every marketer can win the day if they focus on The 5 Elements of Well-being.
The brand should always seek to deliver Positive Emotions to their customers. McDonald’s Ray Kroc knew they had to add positive deposits to the “mind bank” because one day, a customer will get a bad burger.

Brands should share their moments of Engagement. Dramatize development, new design, new ingredients, improvements. Mythologize failures that lead to successes. The automotive industry does that every year at a car show and in the exhaustive number of publications that chronicle their challenges.

Engagement is the Great Adventure. Evidence of industry. It teaches customers HOW IT’S DONE (want to fight the Champ? Run the steps of a museum.) The result of all that effort is the Positive Accomplishment.

This is the Great Unveiling. Steve Jobs in a full auditorium with the future of mankind in the palm of his hand. What Engagement accomplished. Where men stand, cheer and drool with anticipation of owning the thing that will lead to their greater accomplishment.

Positive Accomplishment is cause for celebration, but it must deliver on enhancing Personal Relationships. Your process, your whiz bang tech doesn’t matter unless
it helps people live better, easier, or do more. Positive Relationships is what resonates most with female audiences.

In days of advertising yore, marketers figured out that women didn’t care about the powerful chemicals in the detergent. They cared that it got rid of the rings around the collar of their husband’s shirts. They didn’t care about fluoride in the toothpaste. They cared about protecting their cavity-prone children.

Women care deeply about personal relationships. Adrian to Rocky. Rocky to his Trainer. A City to a Man. Men care about them too, but it just takes them longer to get there. That’s just the way it is.

And at the end of all this, if you do it right, and let your efforts be guided by The 5 Elements of Well-Being, you’ll create a brand that will help give your customer’s life meaning, resilience and resonance.

And you will hear the applause.

Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.

*If you have a body, you are an athlete.


Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.

*If you have a body, you are an athlete.


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