Can Chad Ochocinco Teach Us About Branding?

Can Chad Ochocinco teach us anything about branding? Your first instinct might be to answer that question with a resounding, no! But that would be too hasty. I suspect that even if you are not a football fan, you are familiar with the name Chad Ochocino. It probably sounds slightly familiar, but you are not sure why. He is a professional football player who made headlines when he changed his name from Chad Johnson to Ochocinco in honor of the number he wears on his Jersey–85. Now I know Ochocinco is not a literal translation of eighty-five, but that hardly matters. Instead let’s focus on what we can learn from a quick study of his branding/marketing activities.

Recently Chad has parlayed his popular appeal into an appearance on Dancing with the Stars (he lasted until the final four pairs) and his own reality TV show where he is looking for love. He is not the first football player to appear on either Dancing with the Stars or to get his own TV show. But Chad is unique in that he seems to make all his public moves with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, fully aware that what he is doing is deliberately creating a brand that will be larger than his athletic career.

One thing Chad has done to distinguish himself from others striving to secure their post-football futures is jump with both feet into the use of social media to engage with others and build his brand. Which tools did he select? Internet TV, Facebook and Twitter! Chad has over 995,000 followers as of this date and is a frequent and entertaining tweeter about things political, social and of course sports.

I don’t know how you measure the value of a personal brand (I bet that Mashable guy or somebody like him will be looking into that shortly, Godspeed!) but I know that Chad is now far beyond the typical athletic brand. What does that mean? It means he has become the kind of leader with the sort of influence that legends are made of. He uses social media in the way all of us who are working to build personal brands should. He works to build relationships off-line as well as offline, he diversifies his marketing efforts, is personal and very real and he adds value (entertainment and sometimes thought-provoking commentary) before he seeks anything in return.

And other athletes are certainly taking notice! Did you catch the Espy Awards last night? In addition to the number of athletes who were personally tweeting about the event, many of them mentioned social media, specifically Twitter, in interviews. Chris Johnson even thanked ‘Twitter, most of all’ in his acceptance speech for Best Breakthrough Player. Who woulda thunk?

Now is Chad effervescent, impish and delightful yes? Do you have to be those things to realize the same business success? Must you have your own iPhone app as Chad does? No! You do need to be yourself, get to know and use YOUR unique assets and gifts and remember to have fun. If you are enjoying yourself and having fun, the people you are seeking to build relationships with will also.

I hope you are planning a POWERFUL day!

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