Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Building Your Brand beyond the Field

Whether it is Peyton Manning trending on Twitter or a March Madness bracket consuming your work week, one thing is for sure – sports is no longer simply a game.  The sports world as we knew it has evolved from an isolated competition into an entirely new ecosystem of sports entertainment.   

That’s the belief of Beverly Macy of the Huffington Post – and I tend to agree with her.  She described in a recent article that aggressive marketing changed sports at the professional, collegiate, and even local levels into “sports entertainment.”  Sports entertainment - a phrase once reserved for steel chair-wheeling professional wrestlers now encompasses everything from a Coach’s post-game tirade to an athlete’s high ankle sprain.

And at the center of it all is social media.  A world that first gained popularity in sports from athletes putting their foot in their mouth, transformed into a medium that allows an individual to contact thousands of fans – potentially generating millions of dollars through appearances and endorsements.  With that type of exposure, brand awareness becomes essential.

A brand is not simply a logo.  It is not a business card, letterhead, or a website design.  In my opinion, a brand is the reaction a person gets when they hear a name.  For example, when I say “Nike” – what do you think of?  As a brand manager, if there is a negative perception it is my job to change that.  If there is a positive reaction, I want to reinforce it.  That’s what makes a successful brand, I believe.
An athlete’s social media perception needs the same brand management.  Professional athletes are already fortunate enough to have thousands, if not millions, of fans.  With strategic use of social media platforms, an athlete can easily build a brand strong enough to turn their on-field fans into loyal followers for life.  With that sort of incentive, I would not be surprised to see more athletes focusing as hard on their social media campaigns as they do on their sport.

Pete DeLuca is Manager of Creative Services at Maroon PR.  Contact him at Pete@MaroonPR.com. 

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