A brand for any company is more than a logo, a name, or a catchy slogan. Although the creative aspects are just as important, a brand really resides in the interactions the company has within its market.
Brand strategy emulates what is stood for, the promises made, and the characteristics that are portrayed. A brand is comprised of the full experience that a consumer or audience has with any company.
It is imperative the image conveyed is seen positively, the messages delivered are consistent, the employee interaction with consumers is high quality, and that a consumer’s opinion of a company beats the competitor company every time.
The same goes for athlete brand management and strategy.
An athlete’s personal brand outside of the franchised team is just like a brand for any company. It needs to be strategized, executed, and maintained. Building an athlete brand is not an easy task, and slightest slip up in that execution could be detrimental for the athlete to recover from.
With social media running rampant, there are many platforms for brands to be dispersed and pushed to the general population. Following a media plan and a digital marketing strategy is imperative to consistently maintaining an athlete brand as well as fostering growth of said brand.
Publicity is everything in athlete brand management. When the general public sees something positive in an athlete’s life, it can really bump up ratings. On the other hand, however, leaks in private issues can take a toll on the brand.
Here is a straightforward example. A few weeks back, NFL Buffalo Bills player Lesean McCoy, posted on Instagram that he was hosting a party. He provided a flyer with his face, the Buffalo Bills brand in the background, and content that struck many people as inappropriate. “Lesean McCoy. Private Event Celebration. Private Location, Females Only, 21+. The Bills reacted quickly and asked McCoy to remove the post. The team’s statement was as follows, “We have reached out to LeSean and informed him that players are not permitted to use team marks for personal use without prior permission from the team.”
As you can imagine, there has been quite a bit of backlash on this towards McCoy. Proof of the importance for brand strategy and messaging.
On the other hand, take a look at NFL Seattle Seahawks player Russell Wilson. This man is significantly conscious of brand awareness. He spends a significant amount of time at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Wilson garners praise for his charitable work in the Seattle community, and people love him for it! Not only does the Seahawk brand follow him, but he has since established his own brand messaging targeting not just football fans, but the general society.
Any athlete of this stature should develop a brand. Benefits of endorsements can follow after and a creation of a fan base is icing on the cake. A fan base works as consistent and constant momentum. They will support the athlete if they believe in the brand and contribution.
The positive impact of a solid athlete brand strategy will continue on for decades even after the athlete retires. It gives way for a good foundation of support and progression outside of a professional franchise existence.