Professional sporting is a difficult career path, even for those with the natural talent and dedication to achieve success. The road to international tournaments is paved with costs, and organic support can be difficult to drum up without a plan. Every professional athlete has another asset though, that they can use to further their career opportunities and grow a following: their personal brand.

What is Personal Branding, and Why Is It Important for Athletes?

We are all intimately familiar with the role that branding plays in the reach of a product. Businesses and individual products attain organic growth and household-name status through brand awareness; they are assigned a distinctive name, visual presence and demographic sting. 

A personal brand is to individuals is what a brand is to a product or service – and is instrumental in furthering careers and opportunities in the process. This is especially important for athletes, where remuneration is scant besides the potential prize pots from tournament trophies and medals.

Cultivating a personal brand will enable an athlete to secure sponsorships from other brands, and expand awareness amongst larger media outlets. Altogether, an athlete can increase their market value – both within and beyond their sport – with careful management of their brand.

Key Considerations

The creation and cultivation of a personal brand is a multifarious thing. There are various elements that must all come together to create a cohesive front, and enable seamless integration of brand principles with PR opportunities. Work with PR agencies should be shored up with professional legal counsel, to ensure you get the most out of any incoming sponsorship deals or exclusive media outings.

Finally, before you start the process of building a brand, it’s important to understand where, and how, personal branding can go wrong. A 2009 brochure compiled on behalf of famous ex-footballer Michael Owen has resurfaced this year, existing as a perfect playbook on how not to further your brand.

Building Your Personal Brand

Before you begin the search for international PR agencies and brand managers, it is possible to make large steps in building your brand alone. Rather than overcomplicating the early stages of your brand-building, simply envisage that you are attempting to put your best self in front of more people.

Start out by identifying some key descriptors that make you uniquely yourself, and that define your athletic career to date. These will be lynchpins for your public presence, whether in interviews or on social media. 

These will also form the foundations of your brand identity, which will be useful in fielding lucrative deals with other brands. For example, if your brand identity relates to strength, power and resilience, you may find more sponsorship and ambassador opportunities with gym-wear and personal fitness brands. 

Today, social media exists as the most powerful route to brand success, as user bases grow with increasing pace. With the right approach to social media, you can organically grow a following and build awareness – strengthening your arguments for sponsorship in the process.