What is a brand, and what makes a brand a success?
A brand might be defined as a reputation, a story told by a company or individual about themselves which others recognize and interact with. It might be your favorite candy bar, a chain of restaurants or even a person. A brand is defined by what someone, or something, claims to be, but also how they act and develop as an entity.
Branding has become very personal, as we discussed in our article The Story of How Branding Has Become Personal. It has done so in many ways, not least because in many instances, it has become about a person, not a company or product. Some celebrities can create a career out of a brand, even after their spell in their chosen profession comes to an end. A classic example of such an individual is the soccer player, Cristiano Ronaldo. He is as successful as they come, widely regarded as the best in the world, but he is also a huge brand in his own right. Businessinsider.com reveals he made $44m in 2019 through endorsements and partnerships alone.
How does he cultivate such success?
Ronaldo has style on the soccer pitch and of it. There is no doubt a strong performance for Portugal or Juventus, as well as those for Real Madrid and Manchester United, allowed him to capitalize on his potential, but his persona off the field has further cemented his attractiveness to potential partners. He lives a clean lifestyle and always looks slick and well-groomed. In that respect, he is very much like David Beckham, effortlessly stylish in his sport, but equally so away from the game. Also, his high-profile relationship with Irina Shayk opens further doors, much as Beckham’s marriage to Victoria did two decades before. That sort of relationship perhaps opens further commercial doors a simple soccer player might not open alone. If you wish to sell a brand, having the right style in your chosen field is clearly essential.
A commercial partnership benefits a brand, such as Ronaldo, in more ways than one. Yes, the money is good, but by associating with the right products and services, it helps further craft his image. Ronaldo is a sporting icon, so the top brands in sport want to be associated with him, but on the flip side wearing those top brands marks him out as the best. It is mutually beneficial to both, reinforcing partnerships between the best. Ronaldo also adds to his appeal by stretching his brand into other areas of popular culture. Poker.org discusses how he is a brand ambassador for a well-known online poker provider, whilst he also partners with sports streaming platform DAZN and a host of self-care products. By choosing the partner carefully, he expands his own branding but gets paid handsomely in the process. Also, the brands he chooses help to bring him into a different sphere of culture, such as poker, which immediately conjures up images of high rollers in plush casinos. For any brand, understanding the best route to success, having a vision, and a road map to get there is vital.
On the field, Ronaldo is distinguishable by his utter brilliance, but off it he has become something unique as a person too. He has developed his own CR7 range, which has branched out into tech, hotels and toiletries, as Sports Khabri explain. His branding is consistent, using the number ‘7’ (incidentally, also worn by Beckham for Manchester United) in many of his ventures, such as CR7 Lifestyle Hotels, 7EGEND tech agency and CR7 Denim. His ability to not simply latch on to other brands, but to become an individual brand in his own right, is very unique. Retaining his individuality has been crucial in him succeeding as a businessman as well as a soccer player.
Image Credit: Fars News Agency, Portugal and Iran match at the FIFA World Cup 2018 9, CC BY 4.0