Tuesday, April 28, 2009
What are your favorite brands?
Nike? Apple? Facebook? BMW? Vitamin Water?
What traits come to mind when you think about your favorite brands?
Elite? Durable? Stylish? Performance? Quality?
Do you consider people to be brands? Well they are! The most obvious is Michael Jordan (heck, his company is called the Jordan Brand!). What about Tiger Woods, Donald Trump, Lil’ Wayne, and LeBron “King” James? Do you consider them brands? I certainly do. Why? Because the characteristics that come to mind when you think of them are automatically associated to whatever product they endorse. Make sense?
Whether you are a player, a coach or a trainer; it is important you start viewing yourself as a brand. Think of it as “brand you.” Everything you do affects your brand; either in a positive way or a negative way. The way you dress, the way you act, the way you play… it all reflects your brand. And if you want to have the type of stellar reputation the companies and people mentioned above have; then you need to take your brand very seriously. And just to clarify; I believe in being authentic. I am not telling you to be someone else, pretend you are LeBron James, or to try to please others just for the sake of it. You need to set the standards of your brand, decide what characteristics you find most important and then live up to them every day of your life.
One of my favorite movies of all time is an old school cult classic called Boiler Room; starring Vin Diesel and Ben Affleck before they were Hollywood superstars. My favorite concept from the movie was a tip on how to be a self fulfilling prophet. It was called, “act as if.” My advice to you is to act as if you are already a quality brand.
Is your goal to play college basketball? Act as if you already are a college player! And by that I mean hold yourself to the same standard of excellence as an elite college basketball player would… now. Carry yourself with the same honor, character, humbleness and work ethic as a Stephen Curry or Tyler Hansbrough or Blake Griffin – the poster boys of college basketball. Who knows, it may come true?! Are you in college trying to make it to the pros? Do the same thing. I sincerely hope you understand it is going to take much more than a killer crossover and a wet jump shot to make it in the league. Hundreds of guys have that. You need to separate yourself from the pack. You need to make your brand stand out. While the LeBron’s, Kobe’s, and CP3’s have extraordinary talent; they also have charisma, professionalism, the ability to be coached, and an unmatched passion for the game. If you don’t already possess them, you can start to act as if you have those qualities as well!
In my quest to read 50 books in 2009, I just got done reading two excellent books which I highly recommend to any player or coach; Money Players by Marc Isenberg and Me 2.0 by Dan Schawbel. Both are invaluable resources and are the inspiration for this blog and the concept of looking at you as a brand. Mr. Schawbel was the one who coined the phrase “brand you.” Both books can be purchased at Amazon.com.
Now that we have established you are your own brand; what do you want people to think about your brand? What would you want them to say when describing your brand? Hard worker or lazy? Coachable or a hard-head? Energy giver or energy taker?
What makes your brand unique on the court? What do you bring to the table? Are you a great shooter? Or are you a ball hog? Are you a lock-up defender? Or do you only play one end of the floor? Are you a good teammate; the glue guy that does the little things like take charges and dive for loose balls? Or are you only focused on yourself?
What makes your brand special off the court? Are you a good student? Or are you a class clown and a jackass? Are you honest and have great character? Or are you always looking for a short-cut?
Nike cares about what people think of their brand. So does Apple. So does Vitamin Water. So does any big time brand. So should you.
If you don’t think these things matter you’re crazy. They matter more than you know. Your brand and what people think about it matters a lot and has a huge influence over the opportunities you will have in life. Think about it; you only buy brands you like and trust; why would people be any different? Would you buy an iPod if there was a good chance it would break? Would you drink Gatorade if it tasted like cat urine? Would you buy Nike’s if they hurt your feet? Absolutely not! So why would a college coach want to give you a scholarship or an NBA general manager give you a contract if they didn’t believe in and have confidence in your brand; both on and off the court? The answer is they wouldn’t!
Still don’t think your actions affect your brand? Ask Britney Spears or Michael Vick. Both are tremendously talented and both of their brands have suffered irreversible hits because of their actions.
On the flip side; your actions can drastically improve your brand. Do you think Nike signed Kevin Durant to a $70 million contract just because of his basketball talent? Absolutely not. They signed KD because his brand is an asset to the Nike brand. KD’s brand, above and beyond his unbelievable basketball ability, is about passion, work ethic, respect, and professionalism. Same as Nike.
As I mentioned before; everything you do reflects your brand – everything! The way you dress, your email grammar, your email address, your Facebook and MySpace profiles, your manners, your voicemail message, your voicemail etiquette, your handshake, your eye contact… the list goes on and on.
Now, I am not that old, turned 33 in January and I spend a good deal of time working with players in junior high, high school and college… so I am totally in tune with what’s “cool” and what’s “hot.” I believe in being an individual and expressing yourself appropriately… but within reason. It doesn’t bother me if someone has a tattoo (assuming they were of age when they got it and/or their parents approved) or has a funky haircut. But even I roll my eyes when a player sends me an incoherent email full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Or sends it from an address like firstname.lastname@example.org. How am I supposed to take them seriously? Same goes for someone with a weak handshake, who is afraid of eye contact, has a 5 minute rap song on their outgoing voice message, or has a Facebook profile full of inappropriate pictures. In my mind, they just don’t “get it.” They might be a tremendous player; but my initial opinion of their brand is negative; so I ain’t buyin’!
According to Me 2.0, research has shown it takes less than 30 seconds for someone to form a lasting impression of you. If you make a poor first impression, it can take up to 21 follow up impressions to change their view! So first impressions are a big deal. Remember, whether it is right or wrong, people will always judge you and judge your brand. And whether you realize it or not, you do the same.
One of my favorite stories of first impressions and building a strong brand is when Michael Redd met Jerry Colangelo. Back in 2006 when USA Basketball was in the initial stages of putting together the “Redeem Team” to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics; Jerry Colangelo (managing director of USA Basketball) set individual interviews with every potential player. He wanted to meet with them face to face prior to deciding who to put on the team. Michael Redd drove straight from his practice with the Milwaukee Bucks to Chicago for the interview. When Mr. Colangelo answered the door Michael was standing there in his warm-ups with a garment bag on his shoulder. After shaking hands Michael asked if he could be excused to the rest room. When he emerged a few minutes later he was dressed in a full suit and tie. Now he was ready for the interview.
Michael Redd’s actions landed him on the team that eventually won the gold medal. Putting on his suit and tie for the interview showed respect and professionalism. You see, he gets it. He understands the importance of his brand.
If you have any questions or thoughts on this blog post or want to contact me about my training services or MVP program; please email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. I will respond as quickly as possible!
Train hard. Train smart.