28 Dec Athlete Brand and Sponsorship
All athletes seeking sponsorship should build their athlete brand. Why? Good question.
Many athletes struggle with the process of engaging and managing their own sponsorship. They start their sponsorship journey with a lot of gusto because they’re eager to become a sponsored athlete. Then, usually somewhere in the middle, the excitement eases and they get stuck. Some lose confidence and enthusiasm and others struggle with identifying and choosing the right sponsors. These athletes (typically) decide to put sponsorship to one side. They’ll pick it up again when the time is right or they assume sponsorship is just too hard and never look at it again.
What we realised—and it’s the reason we started our new sister-business The Brand Builders and wrote The Athlete Brand—is that athletes need to identify their Athlete Brand before they pursue sponsorship. Athletes who have identified their own unique brand and started looking at how they can communicate and leverage their brand, are more likely to engage valuable and sustainable sponsorship.
Here are some of the top reasons to build your brand if you’re an athlete who wants to engage and manage your own sponsorship.
Choosing the RIGHT sponsors for YOU
When you identify your brand, you’re identifying the things you care about, your messages, your values, and your passions and interests. Essentially, you’ll be identifying what makes you you. And it’s about more than just your sport and your life as an athlete. From this, you’ll start to see potential sponsors that go beyond the obvious choices (like Nike or Adidas). If you’re interested in travel and learning new languages, you could think about looking at language apps like Duolingo. If part of your visual style is funky socks, why not pursue a sock company for sponsorship?
Knowing your brand can help you think outside the square and identify sponsors that are right for you. Narrowing your list of potential sponsors is (and this may surprise you) a good thing. When you develop a list of sponsors who are the perfect fit for you, you’ll have more success engaging these sponsors and you won’t need to spend hours sending out hundreds of sponsorship proposals.
Learn how to create a winning sponsorship proposal here.
Sponsors Want Athletes To Know Their Brand
Sponsors love sponsoring athletes that know their own brand. Why? It gives them a clear indication of how that athlete aligns with their own brand.
Athletes who know their brand are more confident and excellent to work with because they’ve really taken the time to understand what they value, what they need and what they want their journey to look like.
They also have experience carrying messages and incorporating stories into their communications; which is something many sponsors want their athletes to be skilled in, so they can carry messages and relay stories important to their business.
Learn How To Communicate Your Unique Value
Many athletes think that the things that make them unique (some might refer to these as weaknesses) are unattractive to sponsors. But guess what? Your unique is in fact your value! You don’t need to be like Usain Bolt or LeBron James to get sponsored. You’re allowed to be yourself.
However, it’s important that you know how to communicate your unique value with sponsors. Building your brand will help you do this. You’ll look at how and where you can communicate your brand (e.g. through stories and in sponsorship discussions).
By identifying your brand you’ll look at what makes you unique; from this, you can identify sponsors who would be interested in an athlete with your background and qualities. Meaning, when you start booking in meetings with these sponsors you know what to discuss, what they’re interested in and how you can be of value to each other.
Your Next Steps
Sponsorship can feel like a difficult and tiring journey. But knowing your brand and strategically leveraging it to get sponsorship is going to make the process much simpler. It will allow you to connect with the sponsors that are right for you. It also takes out the guess work during sponsorship meetings and negotiations.
Do you want to fast track your brand building journey? Sign up for our 1-1 brand building sessions with one of our experts. We take you through the brand building process and help you identify, communicate and leverage your own unique and valuable Athlete Brand. Learn more here.