By the minneapolis egotist / /
Athletes are taking control of their own brands and content to ensure they stay in charge of their identity in the marketing world. NBA star Kevin Durant is developing his brand and branded content through a new company; Roger Federer is fighting to get his own name back from Nike when he changed his endorsement deal.
A new division of creative agency Morsekode, Morsekode Personal Brands, will help professional athletes reach their maximum potential as influencers by identifying and developing their own unique brands.
“Applying our brand-building expertise to pro athletes is a natural evolution of our work,” says Mark Morse, Morsekode founder and CEO. “American culture is driven by the worlds of entertainment and pro sports, especially where the two overlap. A hip-hop artist or a musician innately knows who they are as a brand—their whole careers are based on what makes them original. But professional athletes standing in the same cultural spotlight with access to the same opportunities need help identifying what makes them special when they’re off the court.”
“Originally, we engineered a process for creating a unique brand position and voice to meet the needs of our business clients as they looked for guidance making creative, digital and content decisions,” says Morse. “Now we’re transferring our brand creation mojo to pro athletes. An authentic, stable identity is key for building an emotional connection with fans. Increasing their fan base gives athletes influence and reach, which opens the door to opportunities in the long term.”
The agency pioneered its approach with NBA athlete Tyus Jones. Morsekode held a collaborative workshop for the Timberwolves point guard’s inner circle to identify his unique attributes. Those insights provided the foundation for the young athlete’s logo, digital presence, and “Write Your Own Story” platform. Morsekode now relies on its understanding of Jones’ personal brand to create videos and social media content, and activate strategic brand partnerships.
“When an athlete doesn’t take an intentional, strategic approach to personal branding, there can be big consequences,” adds Morse. “Tennis great Roger Federer let the “RF” logo designed for him by Nike become part of his personal brand—but now that he’s left Nike for Uniqlo, he’s lost custody of the logo, and his name. Of course, the holder of 20 Grand Slam singles titles will recover, but most professional athletes have a very short window to make an impression. The public is fascinated by fame, pro sports, and lifestyles of high-level athletes, so it’s important that young athletes maximize every move while in the spotlight. They shouldn’t sit and wait for opportunities, they should proactively be building their brand on their own—opportunities will follow.”
Morsekode, which celebrated its 16th anniversary with a 30 percent growth spurt over 2017, will use its proprietary discovery process to create the values, direction, and visual presence of the athlete’s personal brand. The agency also handles bringing the brand to life with design elements and creating digital channels, as well as engaging fans and other brands for events, endorsements, and sponsorships.