Title: Personal branding: a perspective from the professional athlete-level-of-analysis

Authors: Courtney Hodge; Matthew Walker

Addresses: Department of Health and Kinesiology, Division of Sport Management, Texas A&M University, 4243 TAMU College Station, TX 77843, USA ' Department of Health and Kinesiology, Division of Sport Management, Texas A&M University, 4243 TAMU College Station, TX 77843, USA

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the branding strategies of professional athletes. While recent research has emphasised the importance of branding individual athletes, several issues have been overlooked. For example, while fans and corporate sponsors derive value from associations with athlete brands, limited research has been conducted from the athlete level-of-analysis. This research makes a unique contribution to this area of inquiry by examining branding through the lens of professional athletes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with professional golfers (N = 15), among three professional golf levels, living in the USA. Themes that emerged in the data were athletic success, differentiation, and relationships with corporate sponsors, which were identified by the sample as the most important personal brand-building strategies. Upon further analysis, however, it was discovered that the athletes were faced with several marketing challenges. These challenges were identified as lack of knowledge, lack of time and/or support, and differences in career stage. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed and recommendations for future research are suggested.

Keywords: athlete branding; human brands; sport marketing; branding strategy; brand management; professional golf; personal branding; professional athletes; USA; United States; athletic success; differentiation; sponsor relationships; corporate sponsors; brand building; lack of knowledge; lack of time; lack of support; career stages.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2015.074920

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2015 Vol.16 No.1/2, pp.112 - 131

Available online: 24 Feb 2016 *

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