By Niovie Constantinou, Contributor
Professional athletes have a relatively short career playing sport, living most of their life from earnings made off the field, which is why it is important that they are proactive when it comes to their financial planning. One of the many pillars of good financial planning is building the athlete’s personal brand in order to maximize their earning potential off the field during and after their sports career. Indeed, an athlete’s playing career may end, but a strong brand will continue to exist, assisting in building wealth beyond the athlete’s playing years. Considering a brand’s importance to an athlete’s earning potential, the brand and the marketing strategy behind it should be frequently evaluated and possibly readapted. So how do you go about evaluating the strength of your athletic brand?
- Think about your competitive advantages. What makes you stand out from other professional athletes? Athletes can no longer rely solely on their talent to provide the all-important competitive edge; an athletic brand that stands out among the rest involves more of the athlete’s personality: their passions, interests and life outside of sports. Indeed, studies suggest that sports fans put more emphasis on character-focused stories about individual athletes, relating to their personal life and attributes, rather than on performance-focused stories. Authenticity is vital when it comes to building a strong brand; when the brand that you have built is a true reflection of who you are, your unique traits will define your brand and this is what will set you apart.
- Determine your audience. Do you know who your audience is and how to communicate with them? This is important so that your brand portrays the most marketable version of yourself. You have to know what your target audience likes, believes in and holds in high esteem, where to find them and how to get them to buy-in to what is being sold. Equally, you have to think about businesses reaching out to professional athletes to promote their products or services and how they go about deciding who to recruit for this purpose: a strong athletic brand can convince the business that it is that particular athlete that they need to hire.
- Consider the public’s perception of yourself as a person and as an athlete; this is your brand’s core. The fans’ decision to invest in an athletic brand, whether it is to purchase memorabilia of a specific athlete, watch a game on TV or buy tickets to the game, rests on this perception. In turn, this perception is based on an athlete’s sport performance, as well as character in real life.
Take Roger Federer, for example, who has time and again said: “It is nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice”, a phrase which perfectly sums up his public image. This ethos is key to his reputation as one of the most admired athletes in the world. The 20-time grand slam champion has received, for 2017-2018, a net income of $77.2 million with $65 million being from endorsements and appearance fees. Notably, his off-court earnings from marketers are higher than any other athlete’s.
- Assess your income. What are your current commercial earnings, if any? A good indicator of your brand’s strength is its financial value, that is, how much income you can yield from exploiting your brand. It is also worth considering the effect that your brand has on consumers’ buying decisions. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the highest-paid athletes worldwide; according to Forbes, his net income for the 2017/18 season amounted to $108 million, $47 million of which came from endorsements: Ronaldo is a highly valuable brand by himself. For this reason, he is sponsored by a number of high profile brands such as Herbalife and Nike but he has also created his own brand, CR7, which shows that a strong brand is one you can capitalize on.
Bottom line is that a strong brand is the foundation of whatever you undertake in your post sports career, essentially bringing with it opportunities; for this reason it is imperative that you actively take care of it, evaluate it regularly and it will stand out on its own. For more information on evaluating the strength of your athletic brand, you may get in touch with us at [email protected].