In 2017, EPSN released the World Fame 100 ranking athletes based on their endorsements, social media following and internet search popularity. These athletes are influencers, not only because of their professional careers, but because they’ve developed personal brands. Well-developed personal brands can live on even after athletes hang up their cleats. But, unfortunately, many athletes are missing a huge opportunity. While they have visibility with fans, they should take time to create and build a personal brand and ensure it includes making a positive impact on people and communities.
Creating a personal brand starts by understanding an athlete’s values, motivations and passions outside of an athletic career. While it’s important for everyone to have a personal brand, helping an athlete develop one is even more crucial. Because of athletes’ visibility and influence, they can build awareness and help raise funds for the causes they support, encouraging loyal fans to follow. These philanthropic efforts not only help them give back during their careers, but long after their athletic days have passed.
Take JJ Watt for example. His philanthropic efforts are part of his brand and have been acknowledged by many, including Sports Illustrated.
In working with the JJ Watt Foundation, our team at Capture has witnessed first-hand his desire to make an impact. Through the foundation, he has built a reputation for supporting middle school athletic programs through events that have raised over $3.0 million in the past five years.
Look also at Vince Lombardi. Before he died of cancer, his personal brand centered around leadership and perseverance inspired those who respected him to create the Vince Lombard Cancer Foundation (VLCF) in his honor. Since its inception, it has raised over $19 million to support cancer research and cancer care. Through the foundation, business and community leaders, as well as current and former athletes, have been inspired to give. For example, Bart Starr set up The Starr Children’s Fund as part of the VLCF to support pediatric cancer. Mason Crosby, who plays with the Green Bay Packers, is a co-chair of the Lombardi Golf Classic.
Based on our team’s professional experience and working with Capture’s clients, we know that creating a personal brand isn’t something that happens overnight. It can be challenging and take time, which is all the more reason to start right away. A personal brand that includes a philanthropic focus to encourage giving back is one most rewarding and fruitful gifts an athlete has to give.