Name, Image, and Likeness — enter that into your google search bar and you will receive approximately 22,500,000 results. With Athlete Marketing and Branding continuing to boom, what can we do as professionals to prepare and educate today’s athletes to maximize their influence?
Malcolm Lemmons is a former professional athlete turned entrepreneur and author. He’s also the host of the Players Point Podcast, where he interviews current and former athletes about how they achieved success in and out of sports. We sat down with Malcolm for an inside interview on all things brand development and Name, Image, and Likeness.
Q: With the constant evolution of athlete marketing and branding, what are some things athletes can control?
“It truly starts with understanding what they are interested in outside of their sport, helping them understand their stories and what stories they want to tell. Communicating the value of being intentional about their posts and social presence is critical”.
“Creating opportunities for exposure and spaces for athletes to get people to know who they are outside of an athlete”.
Q: Where can athletes start? What have you seen as a progression from an athlete brand standpoint?
“The barriers to entry aren’t as high as people think, it could be starting their own clothing line and building an e-commerce business or starting their own podcast and building a following to gain sponsorship.
“The bottom line comes down to helping the athlete understand their strengths and think outside the box. This allows them to optimize the opportunity for monetization while also remaining authentic and true to who they are”.
Q: What can Athletic Administrators do to educate themselves? How do you see administrators supporting athletes through this movement?
“There will be significantly more distraction, everything from managing their money, advisors, education on branding, etc. — each competing for the attention of coaches, professors, and tutors. I think the best thing to be done is to hone in on creating the framework for athletes to operate as best they can and empower them to make responsible decisions.”
“We are all trying to learn through this, athletes are going to make mistakes, administrators are going to make mistakes, advisors, and institutions are going to make mistakes. One of the most beneficial things we can do is surround athletes with people who care about them as people first”.
Q: For Advisors, Agents, and Entrepreneurs who work with or on behalf of athletes, what can they do to support athletes through this movement?
“There will be a lot of people looking to break into this space because there is money to be made. What I hope athletes and institutions can understand is that we are here to help and provide value, not here to take, and only looking to assist with suggestions and processes.”
Q: With all of this shift and change, you recently published a new book, “Impact Beyond the Game: How Athletes Can Build Influence, Monetize Their Brand, and Create a Legacy”. What lead to you writing this and what advice would you give to others looking to publish?
“I had the idea nearly three years ago and have continually observed the way technology has evolved and athletes have become more influential and intentional, experts have started to emerge and there has been a pattern of success.
“Personally I wish I would have done a better job while I was competing as an athlete, it wasn’t until after I retired that I realized the window of opportunity is short. If you maximize it the right way, you can have so many opportunities down the road — if you are intentional and purposeful in how you present yourself”.
“For those who have never published before but are looking to write a book, I’d ask them “What do you want to get out of it? Who is this book for? Why would they want to read it?”. Writing is all about using words to impact and change someone else’s life.
Q: What would you say to college athletes who are standing up and speaking out in response to the social justice movement?
“First, be educated on the topic you’re talking about. Whatever it is you stand for — stand for it and speak out. I actually wrote an entire chapter on social justice in the book (Pre-order here!)”
Muhammed Ali was met with criticism and hatred, but now we idolize them. At the end of the day, if you believe in what you are fighting for — you will be absolutely comfortable with who you are.”
“Inside The Lab” features perspectives of community members and sports industry experts within both professional and collegiate sports.
Each feature covers different aspects including adapted programming, communication, and support structures for athletes through COVID & recent events, blending theory into practice for athlete development professionals, best practices in social justice education and empowerment for athletes, and perspectives on the future of athlete development.
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