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How To Build A Successful Athlete Brand & Why You Should Start Building One?

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Athlete branding has become an extremely necessary part of both budding and established sports personalities. Sports management is a relatively new field in India. A major reason for this is the lack of awareness among sportspersons about athlete branding.

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What is a Brand?

A quick search tells that a brand is a name, symbol, or feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer. Oxford defines a brand as “A particular identity or image regarded as an asset.” This brand is nothing but the image people have or associate with their minds.

Why Should I Build My ‘Brand’?

The importance of why athletes should build a brand cannot be overstated any further. Athletes have a limited sporting career of not more than 20 years. (Depending on when they start, what sports they compete in, or how frequently they get injured) The career options post-retirement is limited. Some take up government jobs. Others, start their enterprises, such as opening a sports academy.

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No matter what option you choose, one thing is for sure – athletes have to ensure that they cash in on their on-field achievements as much as they can to secure their future. Brand building is essential to achieve this. That is easily the biggest reason why athletes should seriously consider brand building and brand management.


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Would Good Field Performance Mean Good Branding

It’s a common misconception that brands are built only by a good reputation. “I will win a medal and the world will be at my feet,” one might think. But the truth is far different from that. No doubt, a good performance is elementarily needed to build a reputation. But a good reputation doesn’t necessarily make a good brand for a player.

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“YOUR BRAND DEPENDS ON HOW YOUR REPUTATION IS PROJECTED TO THE WORLD”

Case Study: PV Sindhu & Sakshi Malik

At the Rio Olympics in 2016, India was on the verge of a national embarrassment. In the round-up to the games, hopes were high. They were at the back of a successful London Olympic Games, where they won 6 medals. Also, the country had sent their biggest ever contingent of 117 to Brazil, including Oly medalists like Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, and Yogeshwar Dutt.

However, 13 days into the tournament, the country had a solitary bronze medal, from Sakshi Malik. All eyes were fixed on a relatively unknown badminton player who had quietly made her way into the women’s badminton finals. It was Hyderabad’s, PV Sindhu. Although she lost, post the finals, PV Sindhu became a national sensation. She had the distinction of saving India from a major humiliation of sorts.

Post Olympics

The point to note here is that she got the maximum media coverage and her brand value skyrocketed overnight. That is the power of media. In no time, she had become a crorepati, with multiple state governments showering cash prizes.

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Sindhu was flooded with endorsement offers. Soon in 2017, she was named by Forbes among the richest sports personalities. She pocketed over ₹57.25 crore that year and her net worth soared a record 17 times.

In stark contrast, Sakshi Malik, who had opened India’s account in Rio, is a relatively obscure figure. She was featured on the Forbes’ ‘2016 Celebrity 100’ list at #80 with the lowest earnings of ₹0.30 crores. It was reported that she was endorsing Datsun and Haryana government’s Beti Bachao campaign, for a combined ₹ 3.5 crores.


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What was the difference?

Media Coverage. On one hand, Sindhu always kept on being the media’s darling. All her on-field antiques are closely followed and documented by the news agencies. On the other hand, Sakshi kept on performing well in the various international tournaments, but the media coverage she received was relatively petty.

Thus, for athletes, how they manage and protect their brand image is imperative to their financial success.

Successful brand ambassador oneself and attract brand endorsers

Athlete Branding KreedOnBrand image is a vicious circle that includes on-field success, media coverage, fan-following, brand endorsements, and, ultimately, financial benefits. For eg, an XYZ player wins a medal at an important international event, he will get media coverage. More people will know about him/her, leading to a sudden burst in fan following.

This, in turn, will attract brand endorsements leading to an elevation in the monetary benefits that the athlete enjoys. As a result of this, (s)he can afford expensive equipment and focus on building on his/her performances. This will help to further better the athlete’s on-field performance, leveraging his/her media coverage and the cycle goes on. The biggest outcome is that, in this cyclic process, the athletes create a brand image for themselves.

What will happen after athlete branding?

Two things: Recognition and more importantly, monetary gains.

Recognition

Athletes and sports professionals play to make their country proud. But their biggest defeat is not on turf. It is when their country fails to recognize and respect them as much as they deserve. There have been so many examples of legends who, today, lie in stark obscurity.

Recognition is thus the biggest outcome of athlete branding. With athlete branding, players could expect a better reach of themselves and their achievements among wider audiences. This may further reflect an elevated fan following on social media.

Monetary Gains

Brands are built for the purpose that their value can be utilized to generate sustained monetary returns.


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How Can I Gain Monetarily after Brand Building?

Athlete Branding KreedON
Credits: Dreamsports Media

Two of the biggest commercial sources of income for athletes today are: Social Media and Brand Endorsements

Social Media

Sportspersons with successful brand identities attract copious amounts of fans on social media handles like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The number may run anywhere between thousands, to lakhs to even crores.

This means more internet traffic on the respective social media website and more financial dividends for them. Therefore, these handles pay exorbitant sums to athletes so that they keep on posting content.

Virat Kohli, for example, bags a cool $ 1,20,000 PER POST on Instagram. That is a ridiculous ₹ 88,00,000 per photo!

Brand Endorsements

This is a no-brainer. Athletes with a successful brand image will attract endorsers. The calculation is simple: The more your popularity and following, the more organizations will want to exploit your goodwill to sell their product.

Virat Kohli is the undisputed No.1 sportsperson when it comes to exploiting his brand value through endorsements. For starters, in 2017, he struck a record whopping ₹ 110 crore endorsement deal with Puma. He charges an average ₹ 5 crores per day for endorsements.


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Other Income Sources

Apart from the above two, there are plenty of other avenues to make big bucks for athletes. Selling rights for a biopic movie or a biographic book is some of them. According to numerous reports, MS Dhoni pocketed between ₹ 20 to ₹ 60 crores for his biopic, MS Dhoni – The untold story.

Conclusion

BRAND BUILDING IS EXTREMELY VITAL FOR ATHLETE’S EMOTIONAL AND FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY.  With a better brand image, you can attract more fans thus more recognition and as a result, more financial avenues to exploit. Also, athlete branding plays an important role in elevating players’ on-field performances. 

Building Your Brand with Us

KreedOn is a platform for Indian athletes and sports entities to get recognition, digital solutions, and a sports network. It’s also a digital platform for brands to discover and book opportunities in the Indian sports ecosystem to fulfill their marketing and CSR objectives.

We help athletes in developing their brand identity and market it in the best possible manner. We take care of all your technological, social, and media needs. You focus on your giving your best, while we take care of the rest! Here are some of the additional benefits of developing a website through KreedOn.

FREE Press Release Services: KreedOn provides free press release services to you. Moreover, we publish additional PR stories around you on KreedOn Media as well.  It is a strong sports community reaching out to over 2,50,000 Indian sports lovers every month. This ensures that not a single achievement of yours goes unnoticed.
Expert Support: At KreedOn, you could take the benefit of our shared network and collaborations in the sports ecosystem. We are connected with some of the best coaches, nutritionists, and physios in the country.
Sponsorship Opportunities: KreedOn utilises technology to create earning opportunities for Indian athletes.
 
If you are a professional athlete (or manage one) and need help to build your digital brand, drop us a mail on [email protected] or WhatsApp on 8755444551. Our recent works include mumbaigames.inshekicksfa.com, virendersinghwrestler.comgawdhamurugan.combridgesofsports.org etc.
 


FAQ


How do I identify my unique brand as an athlete?

Start by understanding your values, passions, and what sets you apart from others. Reflect on your strengths, experiences, and the impact you want to make. Collaborating with a brand strategist or mentor can also help uncover your distinct attributes.

How can social media play a role in building my athlete brand?

Social media platforms are powerful tools to showcase your personality, engage with fans, and share your journey. Consistent and authentic content can help build a genuine connection with your audience, strengthening your brand.

What are the key elements of a successful athlete brand?

For an athlete brand to thrive, it must encompass a captivating narrative, consistent communication, a distinctive logo or personal brand symbol, a formidable online presence, and genuine engagement with fans and followers.

Can I evolve my athlete brand over time?

Certainly! Athlete brands have the flexibility to evolve alongside your personal growth, experiences, and shifting aspirations. Embrace this progression, remain loyal to your fundamental principles, and let your brand naturally adapt to the changes in your career and life journey.

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Monish Gadiya
Monish Gadiya
Monish Gadiya is the Head of Content at KreedOn. He is a thorough tech-enthusiast and believes that innovation is the answer to all the problems prevalent in the society. Monish graduated from University of Pune with a degree in Civil Engineering before pursuing a post-graduate diploma course in intellectual property rights. A die-hard football fan, he has represented his college at various football competitions.

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