It’s a question which fills  UFC and boxing stars alike with as much anger as envy. But it must be asked. Why is Conor MC Gregor so wildly popular? Hot on the announcement of his multi-million dollar fight with Floyd Mayweather, we’re going to look at what endears him to the sporting public and generates such a passionate following. As a marketing agency, we’ll also investigate what brands and companies can learn to increase their own popularity.

Humble Beginnings

A native of Crumlin, inner city Dublin, Conor Mc Gregor’s rise is an Irish twist on what the Americans call “a rags to riches” story. It was after meeting MMA coach John Kavanagh which made his life change for the better. Driven to prove himself in the ring and earn a better life, he dedicated himself completely to MMA. Living day to day on social welfare payments his future remained unclear for many years. But through hard work, he eventually achieved well beyond most Dubliners dreams of success.

His story is one that reverberates throughout all nations. An underdog who achieves success despite adversity and a less than privileged background. We all love an underdog. Their courage, tenacity and perseverance stupefy us. This story inspires our hearts embedding us with a belief that a better life is possible for us too if we put the work in. This is something Conor Mc Gregor always preaches to his fans – that they can do it too. In this way, he serves as an almost superhero-like figure to many young male Irish fans, who live their lives vicariously through him.

Conor Mc Gregor’s story is one of self-determination. A situation we all strive for but many fail to achieve. The feeling of power to control our own future through our own actions. In marketing, brands can learn from Conor Mc Gregor’s story. They too should impress to customers their own story of their humble origins or empower consumers to achieve their dreams.

The Power of Difference

If you don’t know who Conor Mc Gregor is, then it won’t be because of his small mouth and quiet personality. Speaking in branding terms, Conor Mc Gregor’s brand persona is truly unique. Some say his tongue rivals Muhammed Ali with a keen ability to verbally slice his opponents apart before even entering the ring. Whether a trash talker or “truth talker”, his media interviews fill column inches. This increases his brand name and creates free publicity.

His confidence in public often resembles arrogance (much to the ire of his opponents). Yet this confidence magnetises people to him. It’s rarely seen in Irish sports stars. I don’t think a million verbal knives from opponents could strike down Conor Mc Gregor. This level of self-belief is something we all strive for which further fuels young sports fans adoration of him.

A Unique Style

It’s not just Conor’s confidence propels his brand image and separates him from competing fighters. His fighting style and dress style also cannot help attract your attention. Always on the front foot, leaning forward, fists clenched, arms outstretched, he’s almost Lion like the way he approaches his prey/opponents. This style is unique and with dynamite hands which knock most of his opponents out cold, enhances his tough guy persona.

His dress style meanwhile resembles that of an Armani model who’s only at the pre-fight conference because he’s dating one of the ring girls. Before his popularity even peaked in Ireland, he was named Irelands most stylish man in 2014. But again, this extricates him from competing fighters and generates media attention. Likewise, attractive and unique packaging and great design can help retail brands and others stand out.

What We Can Learn

Brands need to remember that if you want to stand out then you must be different. Conor Mc Gregor’s unique personality, style, and confidence help him amass a global following. Similarily companies need to advertise and cultivate their own unique identity separating them from the competition. This brand personality needs to be screamed not whispered so that the consumer will hear.