Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Behind the Branding: Saulo Ribeiro

Continuing with the Branding Series:

Not gonna lie, personal branding in the business world has come to annoy me. The concept was great when it started out a few years back, but what could have been a much needed turn toward individualism and self expression in business, quickly turned into an orgy of tweets, personal webpages (can't say I didn't participate)  and shrines-to-self littered around the internet. 

That's what's special about branding in BJJ. The  sport is so raw, that brands tend to be direct and honest outgrowths of the people behind them, as opposed to something designed by an army of market researchers.

Saulo Ribeiro and his University of Jiu Jitsu is a perfect example. He imparts an academic theme and a humble, purist take on the art that's clearly reflected in everything from product design, school website and book composition (notice the sparse use of his name, and use of the view of his back used on the website and book)...and he was nice enough to tell me a little bit about how it all came about. 

You've created a very academic feel around your image...why take that path as opposed to more of an emphasis on the physical?
The reason why you asked me this is because my students and all the ones around the World that have contact and experienced my Jiu-jitsu, are able to talk deeply about it. I don't teach moves, I teach concepts. They spreed the word...

My Jiu-jitsu is physical as can be, but is not for everybody. Some students just want to have fun on the mat and experience a great lifestyle and be educated in history and principals of Jiu-jitsu and self-defense. They are equally important as the competitors.

What do you want people to think when they hear "Saulo Ribeiro" or "Jiujitsu University"?
Saulo Ribeiro means intensity, heart, passion, family, honor...warrior way.

Jiujitsu University means my humble contribution to the Jiu-jitsu community and the World. Home of the no name students and warriors of life.

Your emblem...the samurai star. How did you decide to use that?
I did not. The symbol came to me in a very confused time of my life and was the focus of balance to me. Family, Honor, Respect, Discipline, Loyalty and Attitude.
Today, represent more than an association or a Jiu-jitsu style.... it's our LEGACY.

You don't use your name on your book, school and barely on any of your clothing. Why not?
Because the work I've done for myself will die with me, but the Legacy I share with the World will remain Immortal. It's never gonna be about an individual....it's about principal.

You're a judge and a lawyer. Did that influence the scholastic feel to your materials?
Education is always important to everybody. It helps me to explain myself and my art. Helps me to really understand my place in this World and that we live in cycles.

How do you make decisions on the appearance of things like your DVDs, website and clothing?
I'm surrounded by good people, students and advisers...they are the best people to say NO or Yes to me. Also, they pull my ears when I'm out of line. In the end I'm a Dreamer!

There is a video of you that seems to sum up your views on jiu jitsu. Would you say that's true? Do you believe the purpose of jiu jitsu is to bring joy?
I think that is only the t(i)p of iceberg. What I really think is way deeper than that, but is a good start. I think that Jiu-jitsu bring us a lot of JOY! It all depends how you treat yourself and respect your limits.

Big thanks to Saulo for your time! 


Rick said...

Hey Megan. Great piece! I'm so honored to train at UNIJJ. Hope you can come visit sometime soon! :-)

Liam H Wandi said...

so wonderful! It's beautiful how you choose to let the man talk you through his brand :)

Well done. Saulo is a legend and we all owe much to him and to his honesty in all the products he puts out.

Megan said...

Thanks Rick...Definitely planning to make it out that way one day.

Thanks Liam!

Zen Mojo said...

...lovin' your "branding" series. Although it makes me worry about what my own personal brand is saying about me.

slideyfoot said...

Saulo is one of my BJJ heroes, so it's always cool to read stuff about him. :D

Geraldine said...

Hi I just found this blogg, so happy happy:D:D awesome blogg! I've been doing bjj for about 4-5 months now and almost felt like quitting because of knee injuries and that there are hardly any women that practice this etc etc. but reading your blog gives me so much inspiration to continue:D thanks!

Megan said...

Yay! Thanks for reading Geraldine. There are quite a few ladies out there practicing and blogging. Along with the supportive women and men at my gym, they were a huge support in helping me stay with it. If you need some links, just let me know.

Megan said...

Zen, that's one of the biggest keys to branding. You decide what you want a brand to say, then work to make what you do reflect that. A few people stumble into a brand, but it's rare...and even if they do, eventually it will likely need to be managed and purposefully tweaked if they want it to stay true and stand out.

Geraldine said...

:):):) Yes I wouldn't mind some links please:D

slideyfoot said...

Geraldine: As I've got them on hand to copy and paste:

BJJ Grrl
Shark Girl
Julia Johansen
Combat Sports Review
Grappling Girls Guild

BJJGrrl has a long list of female bloggers in her sidebar.

Megan said...

Yeah...what Slidey said:)

Geraldine said...

Ah lovely:D cheers!