Building brand for competitive advantage

It must be great to be exceptionally talented at something – gifted with a natural ability that can flourish; to have Ronaldo’s right foot, Federer’s forehand etc.

Yes, I know we each have skills we can hone (I convince myself of this in my regular eventing training sessions, much to the frustration of my horse), but few of us are lucky enough to be born with the aptitude to go on and be the best in our field.

But is talent enough to survive and be successful in a commercial sense? In today’s competitive environment, both on and off the sporting field, can those lucky enough to be brilliant rest on their laurels?

Last week I was fortunate to be asked, by the British Equestrian Federation, to talk to athletes on its Young Professional Programme about building their own brands.  Funded by Sport England, the programme supports these talented individuals to help establish their careers and their continuation in the sport.

Clearly there’s already an acceptance that talent isn’t enough – with sporting disciplines, including equestrian, nurturing their stars from the outset to ensure they can shine (while also helping them to keep tarnish free). So, fortunately, my audience were receptive, keen to learn more about how they could build and manage their own reputations.  Here’s a little of what we covered:

So where do you start?

Answering these questions paints a picture of who you really are (useful as an elevator pitch) and helps guide you as you face decisions – particularly with clarity around your values. It will also identify those areas where you’re not so strong and need support.

Be focussed in your brand building

Your brand is your business, so write a plan.

Remember it has to be ‘you’, an honest reflection, otherwise people will see through what you are doing, and you’ll lose support.

Be patient. Reputations aren’t built overnight, stay consistent and focussed.

Take care

While reputations take time to be built, they can be ruined in an instant.

Now shine

Consider ways you can create opportunities to ‘share’ your brand and build your reputation.

Remember building a personal brand takes time and effort, but as you grow so will it.  It’s also the one thing that people can’t take away from you – so look after it.

Sam Kandiyali