This weekend I attended the annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere Presented by Panini in Los Angeles.
This was my seventh Rookie Premiere to attend, covering it for one of my clients. This year’s Rookie Premiere brought together more than 40 of the top NFL rookie quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for a weekend of photo shoots, autograph signing and partnerships. Some top rookies in attendance were Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, Corey Coleman, Laquon Treadwell, Will Fuller and many others. (That’s me above with Derrick Henry.)
The event serves as a kickoff of sorts for several other NFL Player’s Association’s (NFLPA) licensing partners, such as Panini America–now the NFL’s and NFLPA’s sole licensed trading card manufacturer.
The Rookie Premiere has always been a great teacher for me on branding. Few do it better than the NFL. The NFLPA’s sole purpose is to protect the brand and look after the best interest of its member players and former players. During the weekend I paid close attention to three key aspects of branding from some of the best in the world in the pro sports arena, so I definitely wanted to share them with you.
You Have to Own Your Brand
Your brand has to be a reflection of you at your core. It’s what you want the outside world to think and feel about you. I’ve helped companies and individuals develop brand pillars that go to the very core of who they are. Here are a few examples of brand pillars:
Make sure your brand is you. From your logo to your colors to your mission statement, even they way you communicate, they all must fit your brand. When people see a certain aspect of your brand, will they instantly recognize it’s you?
Consistency is Key
You’ll notice in the photos below how Panini America makes their brand and logo visible everywhere, from the drapes on the tables to the backdrops to the football cards they create. It’s unmistakable and easy to spot. The company did several photo shoots, video interviews and live social media broadcasts and updates throughout the weekend. And no matter what platform they were using, you could see their branding.
They even have their social media handles visible on signage and props used for the photo shoots. Special stations were set up so they company could share a little of the players’ personalities with their followers through Facebook Live videos, and funny Instagram videos and pictures.
If you are branding yourself online or considering it, make sure that you are consistent. Be consistent with your colors, logo, your personal photo and messaging. For example, if you use several social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., use the same photo for each one. This doesn’t mean you can’t change the photo, but if you do, just make sure you update all your social media accounts.
No matter what you’re doing online, make sure that it is in line with your brand. Make sure it’s you. If you personality is to be more casual (like mine), then be more casual. If you’re kind of snarky, then be snarky. If you’re more bold and over-the-top, then be bold. Just be you, and be consistent!
Your Brand is How People Feel About You
I hope you’re still reading, because this is the most important lesson. What is your brand, really? Is it your logo? Is it your mission? Is it your message?
Actually, your brand is none of those things, but it includes all of those things.
Your brand is how people feel about you, your company, product or service. It’s that emotional connection people have with you.
That’s your brand.
The brands I saw in action this weekend were professional, friendly, consistency, partnership, quality and accountability. At least, that’s how I felt covering the event.
You see, your brand something a lot deeper than just a logo, photo or color scheme. A strong brand can take time to build, but it starts with some careful thought about how you want people to feel about you. What do you want them to feel when they read your blog post or see your logo? How do you want your clients or customers to feel about the person they are doing business with?
This might seem a bit daunting and scary, but the truth is, you’re constantly building your brand all the time with people you run into every day. The idea of branding yourself shouldn’t scare you at all. IN fact, you should be very comfortable with it, like a warm blanket or that favorite pair of jeans.
Why? Because your brand is you.
Go share it with the world.
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