Life After the Field – How Retired Athletes Can Improve Their Brand Identity
By Fabiola Fleuranvil
Let’s face it. An athlete’s stock price plummets sharply once his playing days are over. It’s amazing how an athlete can go from prime time coverage to barely noticeable, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. The fact is that many athletes don’t realize the value of their brand identity, and once retirement hits the corner, they fail to realize how to nurture the brand that they worked so tirelessly to build. Instead of staying relevant and continuing their brand story, they just seem to fall off the radar. Not to mention that many athletes tend to kill their own brand by not having PR representation or by being tossed like a rag doll by the media.
So what’s in a brand? It’s all about perception. It’s about the story that is crafted in the public eye. It’s all about the attributes that the brand has been able to associate itself with. It’s about image, having a brand personality, and maintaining top of the mind awareness for the brand’s target audience.
Simply put, for athletes a brand identity is the personality that the athlete’s brand has carefully crafted in the public’s eye. When you think of Alonzo Mourning, you think of his philanthropic work through his Alonzo Mourning Charities and other charitable work. As part of his successful brand identity, Alonzo Mourning has done an outstanding job of maintaining his community presence, which has been phenomenal in keeping him relevant. As a result, his brand continues to hold its value even while in retirement.
The most important concept to remember is that a strong and memorable brand identity coupled with maintaining relevance is the formula for how athletes can continue a successful career off the field. So, in addition to starting a non-profit organization, it is also important to get involved with other non-profit organizations and even those of other athletes. Maintain relevance in the community through community outreach efforts. Continue to command media coverage via appearances and events and securing media placement for all of your activities. Speaking of media, don’t let the media craft your image, but instead craft your own. Media training is important and so is reputation management and crisis management. A proficient athlete publicist will be able to shape how the media portrays the athlete. Professionally speaking, secure speaking engagements as well as business deals and partnership opportunities. As an athlete, you have a story to tell that could be very motivational for others, so tell it. In the end, there’s no one way to crafting an athlete’s brand identity, but it’s the sum of those activities that improves your brand’s value.
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