I don’t watch basketball.
I don’t take an interest in the NBA (no particular reason, I just prefer football and tennis).
I could name you five basketball players – none of them still playing.
One of them was Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident yesterday.
As I said, I know bugger all about basketball, but I do know that…
I was shocked when I heard of his death.
I understand why basketball fans would be shocked and saddened by his death.
I understand why LA Lakers fans would be shocked and saddened by his death.
I know that he played for the LA Lakers.
I know that he was sponsored by Nike and had his own range of shoes.
I know that he was an Olympic gold medal winner.
I know that he’s widely considered one of the all-time greats of the sport.
Why do I know all of this?
Because Kobe Bryant wasn’t just a basketball player, he was a worldwide brand, outside of the sport.
There are/were thousands of basketball players, but only a handful become a brand.
Shaquille O’Neal is a brand.
Michael Jordan is a brand.
Magic Johnson is a brand.
Dennis Rodman is a brand.
Similarly, if you’re not a football fan, I doubt you’ve heard of Todd Cantwell (Norwich City) or Ben Mee (Burnley), but I bet you’ve heard of David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.
David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo are brands, outside of the sport itself.
But all of these players became brands by being brilliant at their chosen sport and by carefully managing their image outside of it. It takes hard work to become a recognised brand, particularly if you’re a person, rather than a product or service.
Soon we’ll see if Harry and Meghan can turn themselves into a brand. They’ll need to if they’re going to live this ‘independent life’.
Should be interesting. I wonder who’ll sponsor them?