Sports stake­hold­ers need to stop lament­ing about the per­ceived lack of sport spon­sor­ship from cor­po­rate T&T.

In dif­fi­cult eco­nom­ic con­di­tions, the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty will pay clos­er at­ten­tion to ex­pen­di­ture out­lay in their fo­cus to stay in busi­ness and to stay rel­e­vant.   

Win­ning a medal in and of it­self isn't an au­to­mat­ic key to spon­sor­ship nir­vana. It takes more than win­ning a medal to mo­ti­vate clear-sight­ed busi­ness peo­ple to pull out their cheque books.

The T&T Olympic Com­mit­tee (TTOC) and the T&T Com­mon­wealth Games As­so­ci­a­tion (TTC­GA) would have host­ed a num­ber of ath­lete-fo­cused work­shops aimed at in­form­ing, ad­vis­ing and cre­at­ing aware­ness among Team T&T ath­letes about the im­por­tance of their per­son­al brand and the im­pact their brand will have, pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive, in re­spect of gain­ing spon­sors. These work­shops are in­tend­ed to help ath­letes get spon­sored.  

It is, how­ev­er, im­por­tant to note that Team TTO ath­letes must em­brace the no­tion that spon­sors will not jump sim­ply be­cause you have won some­thing. In their very in­for­ma­tive book "The Ath­lete Brand", Vick­ie Saun­ders and Char­lotte Woods, pro­vides a guide for all types of ath­letes, on how to build and ben­e­fit from their brand. The au­thors point­ed out that whether they know it or not ath­letes have a brand and as such its im­por­tant the ath­letes are in con­trol of what their brand looks like.

How to iden­ti­fy, com­mu­ni­cate and lever­age on your brand are im­por­tant brand-build­ing ba­sics to have.   

Ac­cord­ing to Saun­ders and Woods ath­letes, who have had a re­al strug­gle, have made sig­nif­i­cant break­throughs on their brand and spon­sor­ship jour­ney by tak­ing brand build­ing se­ri­ous­ly.  

What is an ath­lete brand?

An ath­lete brand is the com­mu­ni­ca­tion of an ath­letes unique­ness: their sto­ry, their style, their in­ter­ests and be­liefs, their be­hav­iours and val­ues along with their ath­let­ic en­deav­ours.   

Saun­ders and Woods be­lieve that when ath­letes know their brand, amaz­ing things hap­pen. The ques­tion is how do we get the T&T sports sec­tor to car­ry pos­i­tive mes­sages to cor­po­rate T&T in­stead of on­ly lament­ing.  

Sport stake­hold­ers who know their brand are said to be con­fi­dent, ex­cel­lent to work with be­cause they take the time to un­der­stand what they val­ue, what they need and what they want their jour­ney to look like. They have a clear vi­sion state­ment. They car­ry a mes­sage.

It's time to stop blam­ing cor­po­rate T&T for the per­ceived woes. Time to stop lament­ing and en­gage in some se­ri­ous brand build­ing.  

Woods had this to say: "All ath­letes can have a pow­er­ful and im­pact­ful brand no mat­ter how small their au­di­ence is".

It is nev­er too ear­ly or too late to start build­ing your brand.

Ed­i­tor’s Note:

Bri­an Lewis is the Pres­i­dent of the T&T Olympic Com­mit­tee (TTOC) and T&T Com­mon­wealth Games As­so­ci­a­tion (TTC­GA) and the views ex­pressed are not nec­es­sar­i­ly those of the or­gan­i­sa­tions.