Athlete X Brand Summit Takeaways

Athletes and brands are one in the same. If you are an athlete and don’t have a brand, you are doing yourself a disservice. BFWD held their inaugural Athlete X Brand summit to create a forum on what it takes to build a brand for the next generation of athletes across sports. Here are our takeaways from the summit.

Get Away From Yes Men

Rudy Cline Thomas and Molly Carter, respective managers for basketball stars Andre Iguodala and Kobe Bryant said it best, that athletes need to surround themselves with teams that aren’t afraid to say no. It’s important to get people that are always looking out for you and not necessarily trying to please you. As athletes you are so use to people saying yes when in reality you need people on your team that will challenge you and help you look at other perspectives.

Equity Over Endorsements

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A common theme during the summit was the change of how companies work with athletes. There is an ongoing shift with athletes choosing to be partners rather than endorsers. Whether it’s Kobe and Body Armour, Lebron and Beats, Kevin Durant and Alaska Airlines no longer are you seeing athletes just get in front of a tv and say buy this product. Now companies and athletes are working together to figure out collaborative ways to push their agenda.


Brand Before Money

The brand is priority over the money. Through multiple panels, the message was clear, build the brand first before seeking money. In order to create a following you have to build the idea first. Consumers need to latch on to something before they can spend their dollars and companies want to be able to identify what your message is. Just because you are an athlete doesn’t mean every company will sponsor your pitch, create your brand and then go to niche markets that coincide with your message.


Injury Leads To Success

“Injury leads to success” according to Essence Carson who turned an injury into a blessing and another job opportunity on top of her full time role as a WNBA basketball player. Many times athletes get depressed when they are injured and while it definitely is a hard time not being able to compete, it gives you an opportunity to take a step back for ultimately a bigger step forward. Whether it’s diving into the music business like Carson, creating an award winning docu series like Isiah Thomas, or giving Kobe time to develop his passion for writing injuries may be that minor setback you need for that major comeback.

Essence reminds us that with sports, injuries are part of the game but as we all know the games still go on whether we can play or not so it’s important to find other games to compete in until you get back into the professional one.

The Power Of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is just scratching the surface in terms of how it can help athletes connect with business partners. As an athlete you are able to get into doors some others just don’t have the means and access to. It’s important to use LinkedIn as that tool and present yourself as more than an athlete across that platform. You are more than just the position you play on the field and LinkedIn allows you to connect with business sectors and categories in a more professional matter. The person you may need to connect with is a mutual friend away.


The two most important days in your life are the day you’re born and the day you figure out why
— Brandon Williams "Athlete x Brand panelist"

The Future of Agents

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Gone are the days of just having an agent that handles team contracts. If your representation isn’t taking a holistic approach than there may be no use for you as an agent. Athletes aren’t solely worried about someone negotiating their team deal. Athletes are hiring management teams to handle the full scale of endeavors that now take up their daily lives and agents may be coming obsolete if they don’t get with the times.

Every Athlete Channel Is Different

It doesn’t matter what platform you are using or how many other athletes are already on the platform, you have a niche market and you have an opportunity to capitalize. As Caroline Kutler from Youtube stated, every athlete channel is different. You can have a guy like Derek Carr who does post game analysis, DeAron Fox plays video games, or Kevin Durant who uses Youtube as a media company. These social media platforms are adaptable to the person you are and in this day and age it’s almost mandatory you are on one of if not all of the platforms in some way shape or form.

Athletes and Content

Athlete content will never get old. Consumers and brands are always chomping at the bit to get more content from athletes. As forms of viewership pertaining to media are changing, the fact remains the same that athletes’ popularity is not going anywhere and people are willing to pay top dollar for it.

 Athlete x Brand Book Recommendation

Athlete x Brand Book Recommendation