Athlete Brand has started to become synonymous with social media.
Ask an athlete how to build their brand and they'll often open up their phone and point at Instagram or TikTok. It's not hard to understand why. We all have easy access to the online world and it IS a fantastic way for athletes to tell their story and connect with an audience.
However, it's not the only brand activation out there.
Athletes have a giant opportunity bucket to choose from when it comes to activating and communicating their brand. Yes, we're living in the digital age but that doesn't mean we can't go offline every now and again.
So let's take a look at how and where athletes can put their brand into action — and this time (just for fun) we're taking social media off the opportunity table.
Public speaking (virtual and in-person)
Keynotes, motivational sessions, team building, panels and Q&As, awards night presentations, school talks, webinars and so on. There's so much athletes can do in this space.
Many athletes' go-to speech is the classic "Dream. Believe. Achieve." We've all heard this speech more times than we can count. Identifying their brand helps them get a little more creative and personal with the content for their speech. By developing their brand they'll be able to identify public speaking opportunities and develop a clear message that is uniquely theirs.
Sponsorship and commercial endorsements
Every athlete can engage valuable (sometimes life-changing) sponsorship. Yep. EVERY athlete. Their brand is a huge help in identifying sponsors, communicating their unique value, developing honest and authentic relationships with brands and thinking outside of the square when it comes to what they offer sponsors. Plus, businesses want to sponsor athletes that know their brand. It makes it easier for them to see if they're a good ambassador fit AND it shows they know how to communicate a message.
Starting a business
There's a lot of athlete entrepreneurs out there. No matter what industry they'll be exploring, their brand and profile as an athlete is a valuable tool they can take with them into the business world.
Let's say they're hoping to start a dietetics clinic. Wouldn't it be helpful for them to grow their profile, build an audience/community, learn to network and establish a trusted reputation as a thought leader in food and nutrition? (The answer is yes.) Even, if it's just a little side hustle they have going on while they're in sport (like coaching) their brand can help them build credibility and trust, market the business and possibly grow it into something bigger.
Developing their brand (similar to sponsorship) helps them identify partnerships, communicate a clear message, work out how they can add value and create a partnership based on a genuine alignment of values. Most of us have an issue or cause that's close to our heart. Athletes are no different. When they know their brand, they can choose to work with a non-profit that brings their passion to life.
A great example of this is Chloe Dalton who created The [Female] Athlete Project because she wanted to elevate women's sport. She didn't start a podcast "just cause". Instead, she identified what set her heart on fire (women in sport) and aligned it to her brand activities. She's created a legacy for herself that will live on well after she transitions out of sport.
There's heaps athletes can do when given a pen (or keyboard). Blogging, crafting a novel, creating their own newsletter, writing for media and so on are all great options. Their passions, interests and message all make great inspiration for content. Could they write a book on leadership insights for young people in business? How about a monthly column in a teen magazine (could be digital or print) where readers can send in questions and get advice?
The opportunities are abundant
Social media is a fantastic platform for athletes to activate their brand but it's not the ONLY way. There are abundant opportunities for athletes to connect with. This list is just the beginning.
The real magic happens when athletes connect their unique story, interests, values and skills to their vision and goals.
Are you an athlete looking for brand and sponsorship support?
Connect with the experts and a community of like-minded sponsorship seekers by joining The Athlete Brand and Sponsorship Hub.
The Hub is a free group for athletes of all types, sports, abilities and ages. You'll find brand and sponsorship tips + a forum to seek and receive support as you navigate your journey. Join The Hub to take your brand and sponsorship journey to the next level.