As college athletes have been appearing increasingly in the marketing world, it is clear that the landscape of sports marketing has shifted completely. No longer are these athletes limited to the exposure and branding that their universities allowed for; instead, they now have the freedom to enter into deals with outside businesses to promote their own image and personal brand. As an athlete myself, I have observed the significant changes brought about by NIL, both within my own experiences and through the journeys of my fellow teammates.
What Is NIL?
So, what exactly is NIL? Standing for name, image, and likeness, it acts on how college athletes can now receive compensation for representing different marketing promoters. This new and fresh effect of NIL rights on the marketing environment is apparent, according to a Forbes piece “How Brands and College Athletes Can Navigate Name, Image, and Likeness Marketing.” The article emphasizes the enormous potential for marketers and athletes to form successful partnerships and negotiate this new setting. College athletes are now empowered to associate themselves with businesses that share their beliefs and objectives because they have influence over the personal brand journeys they take. This not only improves their reputation and relationship with fans, but it also gives businesses a special chance to capitalize on the zeal and power of collegiate athletes, boosting their marketing initiatives. The article encourages both businesses and athletes to think about long-term goals and mutually beneficial relationships, highlighting the significance of authenticity when handling NIL marketing. This is consistent with my experience as an athlete who has seen the transforming benefits of NIL on prospects for personal branding and marketing.
Being an athlete, I have been educated about the appeal and gain that one could acquire by signing with a brand. From seeing Angel Reese becoming the highest paid athlete to a few of my own teammates make a steady income, it gives a lot of hope for the future and what one could potentially accomplish. Athletes now have more control over their personal brand image thanks to their capacity to bargain endorsement deals and explore brand collaborations. I have had the privilege of witnessing my teammate, Jack Dalhgren, a talented swimmer, be endorsed by TallSlim Tees. Even though it doesn’t directly correlate with swimming, he has been a loyal customer of TallSlim Tee’s for quite some time. Essentially, he is responsible for posting on various media platforms promoting TallSlim Tee’s to reach his audience and represent their brand. Fortunately, I help run his social media accounts to help boost his image and likeness. Part of my job is to keep up with trends on TikTok or come up with an original post to assist his success within the company. It not only has allowed him to enhance his personal brand and connect with his followers, but to expand his brand. His partnership has inspired not only me, but also other swimmers and athletes to pursue goals of potentially creating deals.
Traditionally, brand deals were dealt to professional athletes or established celebrities. However, the introduction of NIL opens up a world of possibilities and dives into the wealth of untapped talent. By offering these individuals to promote their products and services, it is an effortless way to increase visibility and awareness which leads to remarkable success on both sides of the parties.
As athletes continue to showcase their talents and skill sets, their likeliness from fans grows exponentially. This creates a fantastic opportunity for athletes to leverage their personal brand and connect with business for mutually beneficial marketing partnerships. Working with college players also adds a touch of sincerity and relatability to marketing projects. Athletes serve as role models by exemplifying commitment, tenacity, and cooperation. Their recommendation can have a substantial impact on how customers behave and what they decide to buy. Businesses can make use of this impact to expand their clientele and boost their reputation.
What Brands Should Do
So, what can your business do to start their first or expand on co-branding with college athletes?
- Familiarize yourself with the landscape! Get comfortable with the rules within NCAA, NAIA, etc. This will help navigate the process effectively.
- Target the type of athletes you want representing your brand. Take a deep dive on athletes’ values, target audience, and overall goals for your company.
- Start reaching out and engaging in conversation. Set clear objectives that will be beneficial for all.
- Be transparent and straightforward about your intentions.
- Keep it fun!
Overall, the rise of NIL rights for athletes has ushered in a new era of marketing opportunities for both players and companies. Athletes now have the freedom to manage their own brand journeys, forming alliances that are consistent with their goals and values. Due to this development, businesses now have an excellent opportunity to capitalize on the allure and impact of college athletes, build fervent fan bases, and increase the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. Personally, I am eager to witness NIL’s continuous development and influence.
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