The advent of social media, the evolving preferences of consumers, and the emergence of alternative products have made brands more conscious than ever. Brands are at the mercy of a consumer who can tweet or post an experience instantly and create a ‘movement’ of sorts, one that can bring down or catapult the brand in question without even allowing the brand to address the comment. That’s the power consumers wield today, and therefore it’s essential to take brand advice from those who’ve been there, done that. Let’s take stock of the situation from an industry expert.
“If you’re thinking you’ll create a strong brand by investing in smart, well-crafted commercials featuring a celebrity, think again. Your brand always rests (albeit not calmly) on a double-edged sword. The key is to keep tilting it towards the right side of the consumers’ minds. Branding is not a bits-and-pieces exercise; it’s a one-way journey where the destination is not what matters. It’s the bonds you build along the way,” claims Hans Molenkamp, professional athlete turned brand adviser.
From managing a shop to driving marketing and designing graphics for the likes of DC shoes, Hans has had a prolific career, spanning over two decades. Hans boasts of a rare combination of on-field experience and behind-the-scenes brand building efforts, which give him a bird’s eye view of the situations at hand. He likes to take on new challenges each day, whether it’s about carving an identity for an athlete or helping him navigate through hurdles that impede his progress as a performer. Trial and error forms part of every athlete’s journey and in building his brand as well, which is why we feel it’s important to be backed by industry veterans.
When asked if there’s any advice he would like to roll out to the youth, he replied, “Being athletic means staying young even if you’re 35. While you may not have the energy or spark of a 19-year-old, it doesn’t mean you should lose your firepower. The fag end of your career is as important as the early years.” We aren’t sure if every athlete can ‘stay young,’ but one thing we know is that fitness is the key to having a consistent and lengthy career.
On a closing note, Hans shared his advice for young athletes, “It takes years of practice to master your technique and give shape to your skills as an athlete. The same goes for building your brand. You must give it time, energy, and effort. Above all, you need to be patient.” We agree to this given that brands take a considerable amount of time to become regarded as ‘reputed and trustworthy.’ We feel there’s much we can learn from Hans, not just in terms of building a personal brand, but also building a successful career after retirement from active sports life.