Updated: Nov 12, 2018
All great brands have a simple message that their followers can buy into. Whether it’s Nike’s “Just Do It” or Google’s the only search engine to use, there’s usually one core thing that makes them special.
Sport stars are brands too. And the best have a simple USP that sets them apart. I’ve picked 5 of the best and given you one lesson to take away from each. Take these lessons and use them to develop your own brand.
Recommended reading: Personal Branding Action Plan for NFL Prospects & Rookies
1. J.J. Watt: Engage your target audience on social media
Record breaking defensive end, J.J. Watt has over 10 million followers on social media. Watt’s socials have made his brand big enough to get him on the TIME 100 List. He’s done so by engaging with his followers.
Watt says so himself: "Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram, they know they're not going to see tons of ads and not a whole lot of product placement. I don't operate like that. I'm not going to have some paid ad. It's all going to be organic."
The lesson your brand must take from Watt is to show your audience you’re really there. Netflix is one of the brands which really excels at this. Its posts are funny, human, and show that the brand gets its audience:
2. Ronda Rousey: Be an authentic representative
UFC legend, Ronda Rousey is known across the globe. She’s powerful, multi-talented, and speaks well. She’s also a sports star who’s an authentic representative for people with eating disorders.
Rousey isn’t the stereotype for an anorexia sufferer. But she spoke to her Reddit fans about her fight to overcome the disease:
The lesson to take is that your brand can make a real connection by supporting causes you care about. It’s an approach used successfully by Dove.
Dove is a brand which has spoken out for women. It positioned itself as an honest representative of female solidarity through its Campaign for Real Beauty and Dove Self-Esteem Project.
3. LeBron James: Branch out (make your brand a team)
Is LeBron James the finest basketball player in the world or the best ever? Whatever your answer there’s no question about his gift for branding. He’s the best since Michael Jordan.
James’ list of endorsements include: Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonald's, Beats by Dre, Dunkin' Brands, Audemars Piguet, and State Farm. But his branding doesn’t stop at endorsements. James owns a media company, a marketing agency, and stakes in Liverpool (UK) soccer club.
What your business should learn from James is to spread your name far, wide, and deep. It’s a lesson Samsung has really put into practice. While it’s known mostly for electronics, Samsung is involved in insurance, theme parks, engineering, construction, and more.
4. Kevin Durant: Love your community
Kevin Durant is one of sports good guys. Bleacher Report say it, NY Post write it, and I’m telling you. But Durant doesn’t just say nice things he does nice things.
In February 2018, The Kevin Durant Charity Foundation announced a 10 year commitment to Durant’s home community, Prince George, Maryland. Durant’s foundation is giving $10million to help students from his hometown earn a college degree.