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How To Build & Grow An Authentic Athlete Brand


It’s important to build a personal brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have. Your reputation online and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person.” –Gary Vee


Build Your Athlete Brand

First, it is imperative that you understand what we mean when we say athlete branding. Athlete branding is the strategic execution to cultivate the individual athlete’s athletic attributes and achievements, personal style, marketable lifestyle, and core values to present an authentic story to the world.  An Athlete Brand is the messaging that differentiates an athlete from other athletes so that they can build trust, maximize awareness, stand out, stay relevant, increase engagement, and create perceived value. 

Do you want to take advantage of the new NCAA NIL Ruiling? If you answered yes, it is time to build a strong foundation for your athlete brand.  Answer the following 10 questions to start building a strong foundation for your personal athlete brand so that you can successfully monetize from the NCAA NIL ruling. 

Ten Questions To Help You Build a Strong Athlete Brand 

  1. Who am I as a person? Athlete? 
  2. What do I want people to know about me, outside my sport? 
  3. What impact do I want to have on the game/world? 
  4. Who is my audience and how do I give them value? 
  5. Who are some other athletes I can follow & learn from? 
  6. What are my core values? 
  7. How am I different/better than other athletes? 
  8. Why would fans want to follow me? 
  9. What am I passionate about? 
  10. What type of brands would I like to attract for sponsorships? 


Grow Your Athlete Brand

While it is important to build the foundation of your brand, it requires strategic and intentional actions to stand out, build relevance, and create value with your fans. Here are 5 topics on how you can grow your brand and take full advantage of the NCAA NIL ruling. 

Tip 1: Tell Your Story

As we discussed above, your brand is really about crafting and sharing your story to the world to create awareness, engage and connect, and provide value to your fans. It is important to share the stories that make you unique, your obstacles, your background, your style, your work ethic, your training, Your struggles, your passion, etc.  Your story matters and it needs to be shared consistently in an authentic way.

Tip 2: Identify, Master, &  Grow One Platform

You don’t need to master every social platform.  We tell our athletes to pick a platform where their followers/fans are and meet them there.  This can often be achieved using one platform, sometimes two (if it is strategic).  There is no need to feel like you need to post on every platform that is in the market.  It is better to master one, possibly two platforms, be consistent, and really become a power user. 

Tip 3: Be Consistent With Your Content

I am sure you have all heard the phrase “Content is King.” While there is so much truth to this statement, there is a very important ingredient that is missing. The ingredient: Consistency.   So we should rephrase it to “Consistent Content Is King.”   You need to share authentic and valuable content consistently and even better in a way where your fans and users can easily follow and understand.  A great tip: Create a posting strategy that allows for you to strategically share content, consistently.  Instead of just posting randomly, have a plan!  You wouldn't start a game without a game plan, well the same thing is true for providing engaging and valuable content. 

Tip 4: Engage & Connect 

It is important to be engaged and connect with fans, potential partners, like-minded athletes, and other impactful people in the sports industry.  There is tremendous value in networking and building relationships, but it is even more impactful when you connect and provide value in the process. So whether it is a fan on social media, another athlete looking for advice, local business owners in the community, or potential partners, make sure that you engage and it is consistent with your brand.  A small tip: every connection is an opportunity to grow your brand, so ensure you show up as your best in every situation. 

Tip 5: Brands Are Built On & Offline 

In today’s social world, it is easy to focus all of our attention on building our brand primarly online.  Social media, websites, blogs, etc….but real brands are built by connecting with people on all platforms, even in person.   So find opportunities to share your story in public, participate in networking events, and identify and attend conferences.  The more you are seen and heard, the more visibility you gain and thus the more opportunities you have to build your reputation.  This can be a game-changer because so many athletes get comfortable and only rely on building their brand online.  So be different, be better, and differentiate yourself by putting yourself and your brand out there, beyond social media.

Be Authentic When Building Your Athlete Brand 

Definition of authentic - "true to one's own personality, spirit, or character"

Building an authentic athlete brand requires that you are genuine and everything you are sharing is true to your character.  It is about being honest with what you say, what you share, how you talk, how you treat people, and what you represent.  There is no better way to build trust with your fans and potential partners, than to build a reputation and behave that way when you connect, in all situations. Fake and inauthentic brands will always get exposed at some point, so it is important from the start to be true to who you are...don’t try to be someone you are not.  

How to ensure you are being authentic: 

  1. Be Real
  2. Be Honest
  3. Share Real Stories 
  4. Be Consistent
  5. Own Your Strengths
  6. Own Your Weakness
  7. Be Confident
  8. Don’t Try To Be Perfect
  9. Be Open
  10. Back-Up Your Words With Acton


Did you enjoy this article? If you did, learn 4 more ways Athletes Can Take Advantage Of The New NCAA NIL Ruling 


Work With Us:

With SCI’s athlete branding expertise, we will work side by side with you to develop and grow your brand to maximize fan awareness and loyalty, create a perceived value based on your performance on the court/field and your persona of the court/field; and create strong, favorable, unique partnerships. 

Schedule a FREE strategy session with a former college basketball player at Arizona State University, former pro athlete, and SCI creations Athlete Branding Expert and CEO to discuss how you can optimize your platform and talents to get the most out of the new opportunities available for college athletes.

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