An athlete may be the best in the world at their sport. Running the fastest, scoring the most goals, having an unforgettable technique… but that doesn’t guarantee their ability to sell themselves or their personal brand. We explore the top four reasons why athletes need brand managers to develop and maximise the commercial opportunities outside of their sports income.
Examples of athletes expanding their brand aren’t hard to find. Major endorsement deals are well publicised, documenting how much brands are willing to pay for some of the big stars. Great examples of athlete brands that have been successfully branded and built across the duration of their sporting career, include Billy Slater, LeBron James, Serena Williams and Tim Cahill.
You might wonder what these four athletes have in common, given that they each play for different sports, across different countries, backgrounds and genders. What they do have in common is their strong personal brand. They’ve become recognised household names and would be described similarly from one person to the next, which demonstrates their strong personal athlete brand. Their personal brands have been developed throughout their careers and even though they might not all be in their prime, they have millions of dedicated followers, powerful endorsement deals and strategic side-hustles.
There are almost unlimited opportunities for athletes to develop additional revenue streams, examples are David Beckham and Lewis Hamilton who have developed their own fashion brands, create media content as regulars at fashion weeks all over the world and feature regularly on various magazine covers. They are a great example of athletes who have taken a passion and turned it into a commercial opportunity, utilising the platform their personal brands provide.
Athletes who chose to take advantage and control of their personal brand, will typically understand the value behind their identity but may not have the knowledge, experiences or resources to achieve their maximum potential. The most strategic way for an athlete to achieve exposure, grow and strengthen their brand identity and align themselves with powerful commercial opportunities, during and post-career, is through a brand management agency.
A brand manager is designed to assist an athlete in shaping their brand identity and positioning these efforts in the most suitable, long-term pathway. Particularly focusing on opportunities that align with their values and personal goals, assisting them in reputation management, securing commercial opportunities and generally being available!
To de-code all of that, a brand manager has your commercial and long-term career interests at heart. For example, if an athlete is passionate about providing athlete training, a brand manager will assist with opening networks with younger generations and coaches in that particular sport, they will strategically align social content to reflect that interest and assist during and post-career to begin coaching, whether that’s for a team or as a new business.
Brand management agencies understand that when athletes are in the game, they’re focused and for most of the time, their sport is their #1 priority. That is why having a brand manager to assist them is so important if they want to ensure they’re achieving their maximum potential in all avenues of their career!
Our Top 4 Reasons Why Athletes Need Brand Managers
1. Creating a vision and building the strategy
When creating a brand identity, it’s important to focus on what is marketable but what is also of interest to the athlete. Lebron James is a great example of this since he is famous for his basketball career, and is also an astute businessman, with significant endorsement deals, investor interests, and co-owner of a clothing retailer. Creating a brand that supports your strongest interests is important, given that you’re shaping a brand to have for the long-term! Which is why it is so important to be genuine and authentic!
A brand manager will create the strategy and plan, mapping out the best way to market an athlete towards the long-term goals they want. The strategy will include commercial pathways and opportunities, online representation, brand image suggestions and reputation management.
2. Digital presence and social media engagement
The potential and significance of having a strong online presence is obvious to all. The thousands of followers many people have managed to gain online, show how much one brand can grow in this space. However, understanding what to do online can be tough and not every strategy will work or be commercially suitable for everyone.
A brand manager will help athletes position themselves online, assisting them to grow their followers and more importantly, their engagement with fans. Brand managers will assist athletes with strategies to commercialise their brands online, helping them with content creation, digital growth strategies, and online reputation management.
3. Commercial opportunities
Sponsorships and endorsements are done well when they are suited to the individual, feel genuine and align with the athlete’s brand. Not every commercial opportunity will be financially viable, strategically aligned or mutually beneficial between both parties.
A brand manager knows you, your brand and your strategy. Therefore, it’s important to have the right people looking out for you and finding you the most suitable brands to work with. Not to mention, a brand manager will handle the serious and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about negotiating payment, terms of agreements of declining opportunities.
4. Guidance, support and teamwork
Aside from all of that, a brand manager can be a source of guidance and support through these decisions that aren’t going to be second nature to an athlete. Having someone behind you who’s role is to assist you during this entire process is significantly important if you want to truly succeed outside of your career, maximise your potential and do it in the most risk-free, efficient way.
A brand manager has one overall focus: your brand. A brand management team have typically spent years in the industry and have acquired a wealth of experience and knowledge specific to branding and marketing. They offer a type of guidance and support that an athlete can’t typically provide for themselves, given that an athlete’s time is typically spent dedicated to their sport. A great brand management team will have a good network and variety of experience across industries that isn’t only limited to sports.
As the sporting world is becoming more commercialised, it’s important to observe where your brand stands. Are you making an impact? There will come a point in every athlete’s career when they can utilise the platform provided to them by their sporting success, outside of the game. Don’t wait for that time when you’ve passed your prime! Start working on your brand today, growing it every day and paving the pathway to your future.
Want to learn more about how a Brand Management Agency can help you manage your professional brand? Get in touch with Agency X today, email email@example.com or call 07 3088 7933.