By Niovie Constantinou
We have, in previous articles, explored the importance of athletes building their brands, as strong brands come with many opportunities - both on and off the sports’ field.
Being good at the athlete’s given sport is a fundamental building block of their professional image, but many individuals with raw talent have failed to build a strong brand. This is because, on top of being a great athlete, you need to show your personal attributes, in order to really stand out in the public eye. Indeed, athletes do not build a fanbase on their athletic performance alone: a personal brand is what distinguishes one athlete from another.
To create a personal brand, an athlete first needs to identify what he or she stands for and who they want to reach with their message, bearing in mind that there is no secret formula.
Building a brand is a very personal affair and various athletes, all outstanding at their respective sports, are each perceived differently by the media and by the fans:
- David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, although both excellent football players with arguably comparable careers, have contrasting profiles. Giggs is nearly invisible in the mainstream media, partly due to his unwillingness to discuss his personal life or expose his character as an individual. On the other hand, Beckham has provided the media with ample personality cues, which have been used to craft his persona. Most notably, his relationship and marriage to Victoria Beckham (“Posh Spice”) has contributed to his celebrity beyond football. Through it, he became known as a fashion icon sought after by clothing designers; perfume and cosmetics manufacturers; fashion magazines; and health and fitness specialists. Being a father of four, he has, in recent years, also been portrayed by the media as “the ultimate family man”.
- NBA star, Stephen Curry, has distinguished himself from edgier players by managing to build a reputable personal brand, being called by NBC Sports “the most human of superstars” and promoting a positive, family-oriented lifestyle.
- New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, is well known for being a health and fitness fanatic. In 2013, he co-founded sports therapy clinic TB12 with his coach, Alex Guerrero, encouraging a more holistic approach to health and wellness, whilst he and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, are known for adhering to a strict diet, the “TB12 Method”. Today, his brand “TB12 Sports” sells nutritional supplements; snacks; workout and recovery clothing; and performance equipment.
- Football star, Cristiano Ronaldo, has been named the world’s most charitable sports star, having donated millions to worthy causes, topping the Athletes’ Done Good List of 20 stars.
- Roger Federer, whose ethos is key to his reputation as one of the most admired athletes in the world, is well known for his saying “it is nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice”: a phrase which perfectly sums up his “nice guy” reputation, with media stating that the more fans love him, the nicer he becomes.
- LeBron James has shown, time and again, that he has one of the smartest business minds in all of sports and his entrepreneurial flair will give him many options after he decides to retire from basketball. Amongst other business ventures, James currently owns a media company; a small marketing firm; holds an ownership stake in Blaze Pizza; and in England’s Liverpool soccer club.
It is evident that each athlete stands out for something different and that their personal brand really is a set of their unique qualities.
All are known for their exceptional athletic abilities and skills, but each of them has a specific set of personal traits, which attracts different types of audiences and would lead to off-field opportunities in diverse industries; be it fashion, healthcare, tourism, gaming, even politics!
The founding pillar and key to building a successful personal brand, especially a sporting one, is genuineness and originality because, at the end of the day, you need to walk your talk: be true to yourself; and let your personality shine forth for all to see!