Personal Branding for Athletes

Digital sports marketing expert Daniel Schöberl explains how to brand yourself as an athlete

Personal branding for athletes - a chance to reach a wider audience, increase market value and attract lucrative sponsors. Daniel Schöberl, digital marketing expert, explains the benefits of personal branding as an athlete and how to build your own personal brand.

Athlete

What is personal branding?

Instead of a product or company, personal branding focuses on individuals, like an expert or role model. Well-known brands include Christiano Ronaldo or the skier Felix Neureuther.

Daniel Schöberl explains when building your own brand is right for you how to do it.

Expert in personal branding
Daniel Schöberl

Daniel Schöberl

Daniel Schöberl studied sports management and is the founder of plusonelike, an agency that specialises in sports marketing. In addition to corporate blogging and social media, he assists clients in building their brand. In 2016, he also published his first book on digital sports marketing.

Why is branding important for athletes?

"There are many advantages to have a brand. You reach a wider audience on social media, which increases your market and advertising value. Sponsors, advertising partners and media will take notice.
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Branding does more than drive self-promotion. The athlete develops his or her own brand. With a large enough following, you can create your own products, offer online courses or hold a lecture series.
Athletes also have the opportunity to refine their image, create a recognition value and establish a direct line to his fans through targeted measures," explains Daniel Schöberl.
Runner as a personal brand.
Personal branding can be beneficial.

Who's a good candidate for branding?

According to Daniel Schöberl, personal branding is "suitable for all athletes who consciously want to have a say about their reputation. You don't have to be a lone athlete; even teams should get into the social media game.

Steps for a successful branding campaign:
  • Authenticity
  • Transparency
  • Being close to fans and sponsors
  • "If you don't use online platforms honestly, as an extension of your own personality, it's best to stay away from branding.“

    Are there dangers associated with personal branding?

    Athlete takes a photo for social media.
    As an athlete with a successful brand, always be aware that what you say has an impact.

    „If you've garnered up a healthy amount of followers, you should always consider what you post", says Daniel Schöberl. According to Schöberl, potential posts that might be counteractive to positive reputation building are posts that are

  • emotional
  • political
  • ambiguous or poorly thought out

  • With branding, "you have the risk of hurting or ruining your reputation very quickly“.

    How do I build my own brand?

    Athlete notes personal branding strategy.
    The right strategy is crucial for the success of your brand.

    To build your own brand, you should develop a clear strategy. How you get started is quite simple. Take a sheet of paper and answer the following five questions, advises Daniel Schöberl:

  • What is my goal and which strategy can help me get there?
    Your goal may be, for example, to become more noticed in order to sign more sponsorship contracts. Or you would like to begin selling your own products or hold seminars.
    To achieve this goal, for example, strive to make a good impression in public and care about your fan base.
  • Who is my target audience?
    If you are a marathon runner and want to increase your visibility, your target audience includes not only the athletes themselves but also those who enjoy following the sport.
    If your goal is to build a name for yourself and offer athletic seminars for children, your target audience then includes the parents as well.
  • How do I reach my audience?
    "Facebook and Instagram are great options, since they have millions of users! To reach the younger people, give TikTok a try. Don't forget that a personal website with important information about yourself is a must."
  • What is my unique selling point?
    Your USP (unique selling point) is what makes you unique as an athlete and sets you apart from the crowd.
    "USPs are very different among athletes. Some focus on their success, while others feature an exotic sport and others like to show off their talents. While tennis player Angelique Kerber or skier Marcel Hirscher define themselves primarily through their successes, handball player Stefan Kretzschmar, basketball player Dennis Rodman or football player Magen Rapinoe have put themselves on the map through their atypical content.
    Signature moves are also widely used selling points. For example, Dirk Nowitzki created his very own type of throw in basketball. It is adapted by many basketball players and thus always associated with his name."
  • Can I build my own brand?
    Not only do you need the know-how to boost your image, but the time is takes is often underestimated. In both cases, a branding agency can advise and support you. You can find out what you should consider when choosing an agency in the following paragraph "Should I hire an agency?".
    According to Daniel Schöberl, how much time and money you'll need to spend is "difficult to estimate and varies from goal to goal."
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    Should I hire an agency?

    "It makes sense if you aren't very familiar with social media. Even if you already have the know-how, it's always a good idea to call up an agency. It never hurts to have a neutral party to review content and strategy."

    When searching for a suitable agency, Daniel Schöberl recommends paying attention to the following criteria:

    The agency

  • should have experience working with other athletes.
  • should have an affinity for sports and digital marketing.
  • should be available during the evening and on weekends as sporting events usually takes place then.

  • Best practice: Successful athlete instagram pages

    Finally, we would like to introduce you to three athletes as inspiration who have managaed to built a popular instagram following.

    Felix Neureuther - skier

    Instagram page of F. Neureuther
    Instagram profile of skier Felix Neureuther.

    According to Daniel Schöberl, Neureuther has maintained the "two top priorities in personal branding": authenticity and transparency.

    "Even after his active career, he's still giving insights into his everyday life. He's a completely normal and authentic guy who isn't stuck up or out of touch. People like that; people value that."

    As part of his brand, Felix Neureuther has come out with a number of his own products:

  • the project „Beweg dich schlau! Mit Felix Neureuther", whose focus is to motivate children to be more active.
  • the Ski Academy, a childrens and teens programme with the help of SportScheck
  • several books
  • For further insights into Felix Neureuther's brand, see his sites:

  • Facebook: Felix Neureuther
  • Instagram: felix_neureuther
  • His website: www.felix-neureuther.de/
  • Gela Allmann – Skier

    Athlete brand: G. Allmann's instagram page.
    Instagram profile of trail running and skier Gela Allmann.

    Angelika „Gela“ Allmann is a successful Trail running and skier and model. During a shoot while ski touring, she fell 800 meters and fought her way back to life. On Instagram, Gela Allmann gives authentic insight into her private life, her work and her road to recovery.

    Gela Allmann also has her own products, such as:

  • the (German) book „Sturz in die Tiefe“
  • the film „One Step“
  • ski tour consultation and motivational coaching.
  • You can find further inspiration from "Gela Allmann" on

  • Instagram: gelaallmann
  • Facebook: Gela Allmann
  • Her website: www.angelikaallmann.de
  • Anna and Lisa Hahner - decorated marathon runners

    Athlete brands: Instagram of the Hahner twins.
    Instagram profile of twins and marathon runners Lisa and Anna Hahner.

    The Lisa and Anna twins are best known for their joint marathon successes. On social media, they provide their followers with motivation, insights into their everyday lives and helpful tips.

    Together they founded the "Hahnertwins Running Club," where they share their knowledge and experience with other runners. Partners include Adidas, Move Control and BMW.

    You can find additional information about the Hahner twins on

  • Instagram: hahnertwins
  • Facebook: Hahnertwins – Anna Hahner und Lisa Hahner
  • Website: www.hahnertwins.com/en
  • If you'd like to get a few training tips from Anna and Lisa Hahner, take a look at our interview „marathon training & preparation“.

    Do I need a logo or slogan as an athlete?

    Logo for personal branding
    "Individual athletes don't need a logo or a slogan," says Daniel Schöberl. "Ultimately, the name and face of the athlete are more than enough, since both are what is always seen in the media. A special logo or slogan would only confuse and be forgotten by the media. Exceptions include the logo 'Air Jordan' or the abbreviation 'CR7'".

    To promote your recognition value, especially at competitions, you can design your very own personal sportswear. Just try out our 3D Designer. In addition to the hundreds of colours and designs available to you, place your own logos on the design to make it your very own.

    Design your own running singlet

    Men's RS5 Pro Singlet

    See our running jersey »

    F6 esport Hero Jersey

    See our esport jersey »

    Design your own cycling jersey

    C3 Basic Cycling Jersey

    See our Cycling Jersey »

    For design inspiration that will help you stand out from the crowd, check out our design of the day.

    We'd like to thank Daniel Schöberl for letting us interview him and wish you luck building your own personal brand.

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    Image credits: Title image: filadendron/iStock, Image 1: © Daniel Schöberl, Image 2: Paul Bradbury/iStock, Image 3: ilona titova/iStock, Image 4: Christian Horz/iStock, Image 5: Screenshot Instagramprofil @felix_neureuther, Image 6: Screenshot Instagramprofil @gelaallman, Image 7: Screenshot Instagramprofil @hahnertwins, Image 8: Chaosamran_Studio/iStock.