Nerd Brands

I recall watching Revenge of The Nerds years ago and finding it a fun, silly movie. But clearly it was a piece of fiction. Nerds would never really win in any meaningful way against the popular jocks. Nerds would never be admired or accepted, and certainly never cool. Or so I thought.

Someone recently commented that in the struggle between the jocks and the nerds, the nerds won. I thought about what that meant. I suppose the value of physical strength and popularity has paled in comparison to one’s cerebral talents.

Despite being captain of my high school wrestling team, and still an active pickup basketball player, my wife relishes in saying that I’m a nerd – a cufflink enthusiast, board-game-playing, gadget-loving nerd. While I may have once found this to be insulting, I now embrace it.

Not wanting to debate the finer details of difference between, nerds, dorks, geeks, or other terms of ridicule that the “cool” kids use, it is apparent that people with these attributes have become the cool kids.

When I was growing up, kids looked up to and aspired to be professional athletes. Looking at the biggest brands forty to fifty years ago, most of the top ones were either automotive or oil companies, which could be viewed as “jock” brands. High school may still be unkind to kids who don’t excel in sports, but the world is much more accepting of people with interests outside of athletics. With the rise of the Internet, smartphones and tablets, and gaming, there is a much richer world for those with fit minds. Thirty years ago, few would have expected movies to be made about a computer nerd (Steve Jobs) or the founder of an online social network (of course these didn’t even exist then).

This is not to say that popular jocks and their big brands are going away, but in the shift to a knowledge economy, the biggest brands are now comprised primarily of technology companies, such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and Facebook. Nerds have proven their success by creating some of the biggest brands in the world…evidence of victory.

These computer nerds are now among the richest people in the world. More than that, they have changed the way we live, whether it is how we shop, read or communicate. The nerds of the world continue to push the limits as they develop drones, 3D printing capabilities, and self-driving cars that will likely be game-changing advancements.

So while I am happy to be the coach of my two 10-year-old daughters’ (yes, twins) undefeated basketball team, I am equally happy when they tell me they’ve finished another great book on their Kindle or made a music video on their iPad. And thankfully, they think that their nerd Dad, with his Apple Watch and mini-drone, is pretty cool.

What are your favorite nerd brands?