Business lessons from Matthew McConaughey

March 5, 2014
By: Vicki Bell

If Matthew McConaughey wants a side job, he can lecture corporations on transformation and rebranding.

Matthew McConaughey is on my radar these days, and if yesterday’s Forbes article about rebranding is any indication, I’m not alone in following him.

I’ve been keeping up because I’ve gained newfound respect for him as an actor (see “Dallas Buyers Club” and “True Detective”), and I appreciated his candor and grace when accepting his Best-Actor Oscar Sunday night for DBC. He’s come a long way from “Dazed and Confused.”

As Forbes contributor Avi Dan wrote in his article “What Matthey McConaughey can teach us about rebranding,” the actor “spent most of the 1990s and the 2000s appearing in forgettable, formulaic movies that didn’t require much acting” and “in fact, was known more for being named People magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ in 2005 than for his acting ability.

“After taking a hiatus from film-making, McConaughey made an important decision about his career three years ago. He decided to break away from romantic comedies in favor of small, independent films and more challenging, dramatic roles.

“In other words, he decided to rebrand.”

Dan attributed McConaughey’s transformation to one factor: age. “ ... he realized that he couldn’t play the lead in romantic comedies for that much longer and he needed to rebrand himself as a serious actor.”

As he was writing for Forbes and not Entertainment Weekly, Dan went on to list reasons for companies and services to rebrand: “When there is a change in the customer base; when the brand proposition is no longer relevant; or when a competitor disrupts the market.” And he acknowledged that rebranding can take place in different shapes and forms.

Regardless of reason, shape, or form, rebranding is an important initiative that requires thorough research and careful planning.

An article on, “How to rebrand: 19 questions to ask before you start,” examines some rebranding efforts (Pepsi and Gap) that, according to the article’s author, David Brier, missed the mark, before listing the 19 questions. Brier said these questions need to be answered to keep the brand “true to itself; meaningful, so people take notice and care; and powerful enough to make the difference everyone hopes for.”

Whether McConaughey answered 19 questions or not, there’s no doubt, at least in this customer’s mind, that his rebranding was successful. Oscar voters must have thought so too.

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209