“I call it Your Brand, You call it _____” Written By Jami Lobpries
Call it your niche. Call it your identity. Call it staying true to who you are. Call it authenticity. I call it your brand.
In sports, the word brand is often associated with endorsement deals, television exposure, and money. When I hear the word brand I think identity. That’s because the foundational piece of building a brand is establishing your brand’s identity. A brand identity is even defined as a unique set of associations which helps you stand out.
No matter our career or stage of life I believe it is important to consider ourselves a brand when thinking about advancement in life and differentiating ourselves from others.
Thinking of yourself as a brand means thinking of your unique identity. It means identifying your own unique associations which make you different from everyone else. What are your unique talents, your unique traits, your unique skillset that helps you make an impact on the world. Thinking of yourself as a brand allows you to think long term about how you can package and leverage your uniqueness to create long term value.
Branding means identifying your unique attributes Your unique brand personality. Your unique core values and passions. Branding is what differentiates you from your friends, teammates, competitors. Branding is as simple as this—when people hear your name, what do you want them to think? What meanings do you want them to associate with you? The meanings that resonate with them are based on the way you have positioned your brand in their mind.
I’ll use myself as an example. I am a former college and professional softball player. I was never an All-American or National Champion. But along the way I recognized one of my unique attributes was my academic success. One of my passions is to grow women’s sports. I packaged my softball background, nerdiness, and passion and leveraged it through a PhD in Sport Management. This new association helps me stand out amongst the softball community and my athletic background helps me standout amongst my academia community.
Your brand represents your legacy. With every decision you make, you are building your brand’s legacy. We live in an era where we literally create our own life documentaries of our brands. Your Twitter posts, Instagram pictures, blogs, even the way you dress creates the content of your documentary. The type of athlete or coach you are on and off the field adds credence to your brand’s legacy. The legacy you build for your brand and the way you leverage your uniqueness helps you create long term value.
Building a long term plan. That’s what thinking of yourself as a brand allows. Thinking in the long term can be difficult especially in the world of instant-gratification we live in today. How you build your brand for the long term is way more important than the short term financial gain. Personally, I have done things for free to build my brand identity capital—free clinics when I move to a new area, free blog posts to build my writing brand—but there is always long term intention. The decisions we make and the actions we take effect the long term value of our brand.
So how does this apply to softball and to female athletes? It is important to understand that not every athlete is going to become a mainstream brand. But thinking of yourself AS A BRAND will enable you to create opportunities for yourself that generate long term value. Opportunities which embody your unique core values, personality, and passions. Call it whatever you want, but think about your uniqueness and what sets you apart. Think about each decision you make and how it can help or hurt your brand’s legacy. Think about how you can package and leverage your brand for long term value.
Whether you are an aspiring college softball player, aspiring softball coach, a professional player looking for sponsors, or a former player looking to enter the corporate world, think of yourself as a brand and package your uniqueness. Create opportunities for yourself that you are passionate about and opportunities that create long term value. And know each decision you make affects your brand’s legacy. Here are some key things to remember when considering yourself a brand:
1. The first step is knowing who YOU are. Know what you are about.
2. Differentiate yourself. Why are you unique?
3. Communicate your identity CONSISTENTLY. Let people know this is who you are and what you are about. This will help you create opportunities for yourself.
4. Leverage your uniqueness into opportunities that match who you are. Create additional associations by linking yourself to other brands or jobs or community involvement.
5. Remember that every decision you make will have a lasting impact on your brand’s legacy.
I call it your brand, you call it whatever you want. Just know there is long term value when you think of yourself as a brand. And we can all use some help when it comes to preparing ourselves for the long term!
Jami Lobpries Jami is a Sport Management Professor at the University of Tampa and a former professional and Division I softball player at Texas A&M University. Her research and passion is in the area of athlete branding and sport marketing, particularly in women’s sports. Jami is also a contributor to the NFCA Fastpitch Delivery and created a blog titled womenssportsblog.com. She uses her experiences as an athlete and coach in conjunction with her PhD in sport management to write and consult about topics such as building a personal brand.
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