What brands can learn from Rocky Balboa

Recently, my friends discovered (with great disbelief) that I had never seen a Rocky movie. Feeling like I was missing out on the iconic film, I devoted an entire week to a Rocky Marathon. Inspired by all six Rocky movies, here are a few things we can learn from the Italian Stallion.


In Rocky II, Rocky retires at the encouragement of Adrian and his doctors. Rocky is largely unsuccessful at his attempts to find other forms of employment. Rocky tells Adrian that fighting is all he knows, that “a fighter’s gotta fight,” and he must return to the ring. Rocky ultimately defeats Apollo, becoming the heavyweight champion of the world and igniting a hugely successful boxing career.

For a brand, this means understanding your strengths and owning who you are, what you do, and the services you provide. Don’t try to be anything you’re not. Customers want an authentic experience that they can trust and champion. Know what you’re good at, do it as best you can, and the rest will fall into place.

“Customers want an authentic experience
that they can trust and champion.”



In the fight of his career, Rocky’s opponent, Russian-fighter Ivan Drago, had the most advanced technology, facilities, supplements and an entire team of experts to train him like a machine. Rocky had an old barn hidden away in the Siberian Mountains. From drinking raw eggs and  training in a meat freezer to running in worn down Converse sneakers and chasing chickens, Rocky always had to work with inferior resources.

We must surround ourselves with creative and passionate partners that enable us to do more with less. Like Rocky, hard work, will, and a little invention allowed him to compete with the greatest fighters and realize tremendous wins. Think big, start small.

“We must surround ourselves with creative and passionate
partners that enable us to do more with less. “



In the moments before the final fight of his career, Rocky asks his opponent, Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon, “Aren’t you a little scared?” Dixon replies, “I don’t get scared,” and walks away. Rocky turns to his son, “You know, I think you try harder when you’re scared…That’s when it’s worked best for me.”

A little fear pushes us to try harder and do better. It’s easy for a brand or company to become complacent particularly after years of success. It’s important that we never take anything for granted, including our customers or successes.



There would be no Rocky if it weren’t for his infamous tagline. The only reason Rocky ever got the chance to fight on a national stage was because Apollo liked the sound of Rocky Balboa: The Italian Stallion. Apollo knew nothing about Rocky, nor did he care, he simply liked the name.

 A great tagline is evocative and should inspire action or thought while representing who you are and what you do. Like ‘The Italian Stallion’, the best taglines are simple, short, and surprising.  

“The best taglines are simple, short, and surprising.”



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