In a world of show-boaters, limelight stealers, and Kris Humphries’, the quiet front man that deserves the spotlight often times gets overshadowed. Shy guys rejoice! Within the sports world you have found your paragon in the name of Blake Griffin. With the NBA having been resurrected on Christmas, it is only fitting that I highlight Blake Griffin for my personal branding scoreboard this month. He will be graded in four areas: authenticity, brand differentiation, networking skill, and individual versus team brand.
Blake is Blake, pure and simple. His work ethic, leadership, and individuality are evident not just on-court, but also in what he does to build his brand off of it. Blakegriffin.com does the necessary job of being the heart of his brand. The blog on his site is a gateway into learning more about Blake himself and all things connected to his brand. He personally manages his Twitter feed where you get hints at his wit through content and the professional comedic cohorts he tweets (example: Danny Zuker, Joel McHale, Moshe Kasher). A bone of contention for me with regards to brand authenticity is his Facebook page, where fans are forced to “like” or “share” multiple times in order to gain access to content levels. Imagine your friends inviting you to their house for dinner, giving you a few bites of food, and then only allowing you the rest of the meal after you have called everyone you know to tell them what a good cook they are. For someone whose brand seems to be about sharing laughs for laughs sake, this element only detracts.
Grade – B
Let’s be honest, the man at first glance isn’t a self-marketing missile. He is shy, humble, and seems uncomfortable with public speaking at times. His endorsers are for the most part standard, but the way he brings attention to them is certainly unique and inline with his brand values. Yet, when you dig in and look at his “internship” at Funny or Die, his ESPY and Panini digital shorts and his brilliant interactions with the Sports Guy Bill Simmons, you really begin to understand the power of his individual brand. His endorsers may be standard (Nike, Kia, Vizio), but the way he brings attention to them is certainly unique and inline with his brand values. Blake’s brand authentically showcases his brilliance at dry deliverance, and plays to his strengths (dunk dynamics and comedy) when connecting with his fans.
Grade – A-
Blake Griffin got the benefit of being drafted into a major media market and has done the most to take advantage through the comedic interactions mentioned above. He also maintains network ties from his pre NBA life – collegiate and home state. A lot of times, those areas of a network provide fierce loyalty and even though Blake only attended college for two years, he shows his understanding of the importance of the home state/collegiate brand ties. He recently attended the Oklahoma basketball legends alumni game, has an Oklahoma tab on his webpage, and defends his state against those that disrespect it…just read a recent Twitter interaction between Griffin and Chris Kaman.
Grade – B
This is the part I admire most about the Blake Griffin brand and the part that can be the most difficult to achieve. While he has managed to build a strong personal brand with values of genuineness, humor and hard work, it has never detracted from his team. The media talks about SportsCenter Top 10 Highlights, yet he speaks of “team” and “we.” He commented on the NBA lockout with intelligence and acknowledgment of the fans involvement in the bigger picture. Blake most recently demonstrated the personal brand qualities that fans, Clippers management, and sponsors love in his reaction to the Chris Paul trade – with sincere excitement, humor, and foresight of the opportunities ahead.
Grade – A-
Years from now, we will see Blake take hold of the Clipper franchise helm and grow as a brand that endorsers will trample over each other to be associated with. For now though, I am reveling in the simple pleasure of having him back on the court for what is sure to be an exciting NBA season.
Katie Marston is the CEO and founder of DYME Branding, a personal and lifestyle branding company focusing on professional athletes. Follow her on twitter at @ktmarston or learn more at dymebranding.com.