A Shift in Athlete Promotion
The sports industry is at its peak and rising, and with growing opportunity for global reach, it seems like everybody can capitalize on this. But it's no longer the traditional gatekeepers controlling who benefits from this opportunity.
There was a time when signing a contract with a professional sports franchise was the pinnacle for athletes. It still is; however, our society is now allowing for these athletes to go so much further than that. We are in an interconnected world where the internet and social media have changed how we operate a business. What does this mean? It means that every person has an opportunity to impact and influence others, especially athletes.
A highly touted athlete works their way through the ranks. Playing in high-school, college, journeying through a farm-system if necessary, and then hitting the pros. When this athlete begins to make some noise in their respective craft, companies take notice. Using the athlete's likeness, these brands could influence more consumers to purchase their product, which also benefited the athlete, of course. These companies paid them for their participation, and the partnership, in turn, would draw more attention. When athletes were on the cover of cereal boxes, in magazine ads, and television commercials, their popularity skyrocketed. More popularity meant more jersey and ticket sales, ultimately making the athlete an invaluable asset to a franchise, thus earning them grander contracts.
So, where's the problem?
Essentially, athletes were at the will of the company endorsing them. Companies, and the media outlets giving the companies a platform, was the only road for athletes to reach an audience outside of their geographical fanbase. While there were and always will be monetary benefits to endorsement deals, athletes were limited to their growth, impact, and income from these deals.
Athletes Have the Leverage
Our highly interactive society gives athletes a key to the eyes and the hearts of the consumers. Media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and even Tik Tok, give fans direct access to their favorite athletes.
Athletes are now their publicist, using social media as a tool to project who they are to millions of fans and followers. It's no longer a significant company using the athlete as a pawn to promote something, and the athlete getting some kickback.
Listen, this isn't a diss-track in blog form to the idea of athlete sponsorships. There are still partnership opportunities that yield fantastic returns for athletes. But imagine all of the power going into the hands of the product. Yes, the athlete is a product, and consumers will pay good money for a piece of that product.
Why Athletes Need Branding
A brand creates opportunity
Everything needed to garner attention and build a following is at your fingertips; gone are the days of relying strictly on corporate sponsorships to promote an athlete's image. You have direct access to fans and consumers with social media, giving you leverage when taking on corporate partnerships. By building a deep following, you get to be selective in your off-field endeavors. With this pre-established, dedicated fanbase, big companies will see immense value in what you're bringing to the table.
It's your opportunity to tell your story
Everybody has a story to tell, especially athletes. The trials and tribulations, wins and losses, have all shaped you into who you are. The beauty of your brand is that it's personal. It's your opportunity to craft your narrative, show who you are off the field, and put your personality on display.
Your impact will go beyond the game
When you're consistently shining a positive light on your brand, you begin to build credibility amongst your audience as an informed individual whose priorities go beyond the field. Doing so can give you the platform to openly discuss the issues close to your heart, including social and charitable matters.
As an athlete, if you're looking to expand your reach, acquire more partnerships, and build a legacy off the field, a well-crafted brand is essential. The opportunity is yours, from generating an excess of side income to having the freedom to promote your personality and beliefs, and it all begins with the crafting of a personal brand.