Whether you have been intentionally creating it or not, you already have a personal brand - and the concept of a personal brand is much broader than you may have been taught in your high school marketing class. This blog will cover all things personal branding as an athlete:
Your personal brand is more than just your online presence or how you appear on your social media channels. Although it can be heavily influenced by your online presence, it's crucial to remember how you interact with people in your day-to-day life is all a part of building your brand as well. Whether it be meeting friends' parents, co-workers, or your boss's husband at dinner, you never know who you may work with in the future.
It can be helpful to think of your personal brand as how people will perceive you based on what people can see from your online presence before they've met you, how people describe you that do know you, but it is also how will they remember you once they have met you.
For example, think about when you are introducing a teammate to a potential sponsor, how do you describe them? What values come to mind when their name comes up? These are all encompassed in building a personal brand.
The first and most important question to ask that might surprise you is - do you actually want to build a personal brand? Like everything, there are pros and cons to how we chose to live our lives and this is true when discussing building a personal brand. This blog will help you decide if investing in your personal brand is something you want to do, and help you understand the ins and outs of building a personal brand as an athlete, that be something you want to do.
Although these words get thrown around often, especially toward athletes due to the increased branding and sponsorship opportunities, it is not something you have to do. The reason it is a popular conversation, however, is because you often already have a great starting platform to build off, if you choose to.
It is also important to note that there is no “one size fits all” approach when building a personal brand. You don't have to start a podcast or become a YouTuber. You should do it in your own, authentic way that feels natural to you.
Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Growing Your Personal Brand as an Athlete
What are some things you fear of when building your personal brand? Speaking on your stories, being a thought leader in your industry, speaking out on controversial topics, putting time into planning content, having responsibilities to fulfil if you have sponsorship deals, putting yourself out there, and fearing judgement. These are all things you need to work through to help you decide if you want to build a brand.
- Would having a strong online brand get me closer to achieving my goals?
- Would having a strong personal brand get me more opportunities that I am looking for?
- Now that you know you want to build your personal brand, here are some tips.
- What is your goal?
- What are your values?
- Who is your target audience?
- How can you reach your audience?
- What do you have to offer?
- What content do you genuinely enjoy sharing and talking about? This could be from global politics to ceramic pottery, whatever floats your boat! Nothing is off limits.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Podcast, Blogging… It's a lot, that's why we're here to help.
The good part, you get to choose what platforms you want to target based on what appeals to you. Here are some things to think about when looking at each different type of platform.
Building a personal brand on Instagram
Building a personal brand on TikTok
Building a personal brand on LinkedIn
Pros: If you're looking to go the more professional route, LinkedIn is where you want to be. The aim would be to make your own content, writing blogs or articles, as well as share others thought provoking content that resonates with you.
However, if you’re not there yet it is still a great idea to have an updated LinkedIn and to interact with other people’s content that talks about what you’re interested in. Employers will often look you up on LinkedIn to get a look into your background too. LinkedIn is a great place to find job opportunities and connect with like-minded people, with a lot of organic reach on a well-established platform. Not to mention the other services it offers like job searching and educational courses.
Cons: Your content or target audience may not be as present on LinkedIn. It's still a good idea to have a profile but maybe you would prefer to target your efforts elsewhere if you're not wanting to appeal to the “professional business” market. However, you can always make any platform you own, and I guarantee there will still be people on LinkedIn who will also have an interest in your niche.
Building a personal brand on YouTube
Building a personal brand on Twitter
Building a personal brand on a Podcast
Building a personal brand on a Blog
Building a personal brand on Facebook
No one expects you to be a branding expert, that's why marketing agencies for athletes exist. Branding agencies can be a great help if you have no idea where to start and you want someone to help flush out a strategy for you. It's also beneficial if you have a plan but not a lot of education around marketing or how to execute the ideas in your head. However, you certainly don't need a branding agency and it can be a good idea to do a bit of trial and error on your own before you invest money into something like a branding agency.
What should you look for in an agency?
Always look for credibility - look on their website at any testimonials, and reach out to other people they have worked with if you can. Do they have proven success? And do they have clients that are doing a similar thing that you want to do? For example, some agencies might focus on certain platforms or niches, so make sure they align with your values and goals!
A good marketing agency can help you develop a powerful and memorable personal brand that is recognisable to your target audience.
How Your Personal Brand Can Help with Brand Partnerships and Sponsorship Deals as an Athlete
The difference between brand partnerships and sponsorship deals is quite simple - sponsorships are often long-term deals working with a brand or partner over a long period of time, and brand partnerships are much shorter and could entail one post on Instagram or a one-month contract sharing their product.
You may be thinking, I don't have 100k + followers, how am I supposed to get brand deals? You don't need a massive following to get any sponsorships or brand deals, if you have a loyal and engaging following, that's the important part. And if you have a niche, it can make it a lot easier to get deals because the brand will nowknow that everyone who follows you is also aligned with the product they are wanting to promote. Someone who alwaysoften talks about mental health can partner with brands that have products that promote wellbeing, someone who talks about body image can partner with someone who has an inclusive activewear company, and someone who is passionate about fashion can partner with a jewelry line… you get the point.
The main thing is what you are "promoting" through your personal brand genuinely aligns with what you believe in. The general rule of thumb is if you wouldn't use it, wear it, or buy it - don't promote it. Your followers will be able to see through the inauthentic deals that are only for money
Don't forget, it doesn't just have to be a product. You could partner as an ambassador or do speaking events, or even collaborate and create your own line with the company- the options are endless!
Athletes have always been seen as “role models” for the general public. The public expects them to be physically fit, successful and well-behaved. However, in recent years, athletes have been under scrutiny for their behaviour both on and off the field. Nowadays, it is very important for athletes to be aware of their image to maintain a positive reputation. With the rise of social media, the audience has become more demanding and is eager to see what goes on behind the scenes of a celebrity's life. As such, it is crucial that they build their personal brands by interacting with fans through social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram. This way they can control the content that is being shared.
It can be a dangerous game being public on social media, but as with everything it has its pros and cons. If you use it wisely and consciously, you should avoid running into major trouble. And if you do, admit your faults, a public apology and taking accountability never hurts.
Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with an audience, but it can be difficult to know how to use it effectively.
There are many ways to connect with an audience on social media, but we need to be authentic and genuine for your messages to resonate with them. When we do this, we can build trust and establish relationships that will last.
Follow accounts in the industry you are looking at, e.g., mental health, sports psychology, rehab, digital marketing, and personal development. Comment and interact with them. Make it clear in your bio who you are and what you speak about and use hashtags in your bio and on your post so people can find them easier. And finally - create, create, create. You must be putting things into the world if you want someone to find you!
A personal brand is not just a way to market yourself. It is a way to live your life and create an identity for yourself. In today's world, it is important to build your personal brand because people are more likely to trust you. To build your personal brand, you need to think of yourself as a product. A product can only be sold to a consumer if it is packaged in a way that appeals to them. If you make sure your content is easily digestible and engaging, people will want to buy what you have to offer.
It is important for people to understand the value you bring them and what makes you different from others. Building a strong personal brand can lead to success in many aspects of life, including professional opportunities and career growth.
As an athlete, you have a platform, you already have people who are interested in what you're doing - use it. You never know what might come from investing in your personal brand.