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Patrick Mahomes II is a National Football League (NFL) player, currently filling the quarterback position for Kansas City Chiefs. He was named the NFL MVP in 2018 and led his team to victory in Super Bowl LIV (Bergman; Rosenthal). Owing to this performance, Mahomes has acquired a following as a young rising star. Furthermore, he is the son of Patrick “Pat” Mahomes, a Major League Baseball player. These factors, taken together, can be leveraged to create a strong personal brand. The overall strategy to achieve this includes developing and specializing his online presence, using his athletic success as an opportunity to leverage his public off-field appearances, and responding to current events through charity.
A person’s online presence is a crucial part of his or her personal brand. Currently, Mahomes has a website that offers branded apparel and jewelry (Official Store Of Patrick Mahomes). The website is basic and provides little information besides links to Patrick’s social media and charity foundation. 15 and the Mahomies is a charity foundation founded by Mahomes in 2019, “dedicated to improving the lives of children” (15 and the Mahomies). Its website is basic and contains little additional information besides a vague mission statement and a single, similarly vaguely-described program. These websites offer a solid foundation for Mahomes’ brand, but they are currently heavily underutilized in delivering a distinct and memorable personality.
In addition to websites, Mahomes has active social network accounts that can be leveraged to improve his personal brand. Currently, his Twitter has over 1.1 million followers, but the account’s content is primarily comprised of retweets with few original posts (@patrickmahomes). However, the latest original tweet is a pledge to contribute to charity through the 15 and the Mahomies foundation (@patrickmahomes). Mahomes also maintains a Facebook page with 313,000 followers, which is mildly active with primarily original photos and videos (Mahomes). His Instagram account has over 3.3 million followers and contains original and produced photos and videos (@patrickmahomes).
Finally, an Instagram account exists for Patrick’s two dogs, with 146,548 followers (@steel_silver_mahomes). These accounts create a positive image through their primarily visual presentation, sporting, and social themes, and links back to the 15 and the Mahomeys foundation. Although this image contributes to Mahomes’ personal brand, it contains limited messaging; it presents Patrick as an athlete and generally kind and positive person but offers no further statements or unique characteristics.
To build a personal brand through social networking, their themes can be expanded beyond sports and general social topics. Green suggests that insights into an athlete’s hobbies and interests outside of his or her sports career can be a significant subject guiding follower and supporter attachment (283). Following Green’s research, exposure is another dimension of an athlete’s personal brand, comprised of exclusive content related to his or her professional activity (283-284). The third theme Green forwards is a response, engaging with followers directly (284). Who the athlete follows on these networks can also contribute to his or her personal brand, with key influencers and major stakeholders being particularly important (Green 284).
Furthermore, endorsing (not necessarily in commercial endorsements) positive messages can initiate more interactions with sponsors and fans (Green 285). Green also points out that maintaining authenticity, creativity and uniqueness are significant parts of building one’s personal brand (285). Finally, understanding the target audience of each message and maintaining consistency of tone and image are crucial (Green 285-286). Based on this research, one can offer suggestions for Patrick Mahomes’ social networking presence.
Currently, Mahomes’ social network accounts can be described as mildly active and superficial. Based on the above principles, the first suggestion towards pivoting them to create a stronger personal brand is improving activity and consistency. Devoting time to creating new content and updating frequently is important for making oneself visible (Philbrick and Cleveland 186). This applies to both creating new content and engaging with followers, as improving his visibility will allow Mahomes to attract new followers and sponsors, and retain existing ones.
The subjects discussed by Mahomes’ social media accounts should also be expanded to include more subjects besides his sporting career. Currently, none of his social media feature such subjects prominently. This prevents followers from gaining an understanding of the athlete’s unique personal qualities, which are crucial parts of a personal brand (Brown 69). Without it, they can find it difficult to connect and engage with Mahomes, thus, the relationship between them and him will remain distant and lack credibility and opportunities to improve his brand. Therefore, more time should be dedicated to content that is unique to Patrick — his hobbies, interests, or anything else that makes him a unique personality and distinguish him from other athletes.
However, care should be taken in regards to “hot button” issues. Engaging in controversial discussions may bring a short-term increase in engagement, the long-term alienation of followers, and damage to the reputation of one’s personal brand. These include political, social, and ethical subjects, regardless of one’s stance and opinion on them. This caveat is particularly important to potential sponsors, who will likely find it undesirable to associate their brands with a controversial person.
Mahomes’ Instagram account is primarily dedicated to various photos and videos of him training, playing, or participating in events related to football. As such, it fulfills Green’s exposure criterion, showcasing the athlete’s professional side. One possible way this Instagram account’s content can be strengthened is by increasing the value of each post. Expanding the original comment to each post with a brief description that explains the exercises shown in the video can be one method of increasing this value. This approach would not only increase followers’ interest but provoke discussion and create opportunities for Mahomes to respond and engage with his fans.
In regards to the target audience and maintaining a separate tone for each social media site and corresponding target audience, Mahomes’ online presence is lacking. Both his Instagram and Facebook contain content that centers on athletics and training. Although the content is not identical, there are no significant distinctions based on its tone or theme. Based on this, to facilitate the strengthening and diversification of Mahomes’ brand, it is advisable that the two social media accounts focus on different themes. The Instagram account should retain its current direction, while, as per previous recommendations, expanding to include more content related to Patrick’s personal hobbies and interests. The Facebook page can pivot towards more activities and events that are less focused on Patrick’s personality and more on his broader commercial, business, and charity presence. In particular, these can include the work of the 15 and the Mahomeys foundation or any non-sports-related business and merchandise.
Mahomes’ status as a rising star in football is increasing interest in him offline as well as online. With several appearances on talk shows and TV specials between 2018 and 2020, he is likely to receive more attention from traditional media sources (IMDB). He can use the opportunity presented by upcoming appearances to attract new fans and potential sponsors, strengthening his personal brand and reputation.
His primary concern, as with his online presence, should be making his brand unique by offering something that other athletes do not. A unique presentation begins with a unique appearance that differentiates an athlete from others (Hodge and Walker 121). It would be beneficial for Mahomes to invest in designing a unique and memorable out-of-uniform style for himself. As a part of his personal brand, this style and appearance should also remain consistent and change little over time. Therefore, they should be designed with sufficient variability in mind to be sustainable in the long term.
As TV appearances offer an opportunity for more comprehensive, although less controlled, communications than online and social media, they present special challenges.
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Current Events and Endorsement Opportunities
2020’s events create opportunities for Mahomes to improve his personal brand without attracting undue controversy. His performance in the 2019 NFL season and the LIV Super Bowl is certain to increase interest in Mahomes personally and his team, the Kansas City Chiefs. This increase is likely to attract people from Missouri, the team’s state, and Texas, Mahomes’ home state. This increase is likely to be especially significant because the team’s last Super Bowl victory was in the 1969 season, 50 years ago.
However, it is also likely to be short-lived unless Mahomes does not create a unique advantage for his brand. Therefore, he should capitalize on this victory and his contribution to it by building his messaging on them. In particular, he can discuss his personal performance during matches as well as those of his team, their strategy, or training regimen. By providing descriptions and commentary on these subjects, Mahomes can improve his reputation as not simply an athlete, but as a person knowledgeable in surrounding issues. Furthermore, these discussions allow him to endorse training regimens, diets, training equipment, or any other objects related to athletics and health.
In this messaging, it is crucial to maintain a truthful and authentic tone. For sports celebrities, their perceived consistency (the celebrity’s image does not change) and candidness (consistency of their actions with their feelings) are crucial parts of an authentic image (Kucharska and Figolska 119-122). Therefore, it is of utmost importance for Mahomes to endorse things he is familiar with and can genuinely recommend. Furthermore, to maintain consistency, any changes in the scope and subject of his messaging should be gradual, incorporating new kinds of content at a slow pace to allow his audience time to adjust to the changes.
Another opportunity to leverage Mahomes’ Super Bowl success to strengthen his personal brand is by using his messaging to create a positive image of a team player and leader. To achieve this, he can engage with and endorse his teammates, coaches, and whoever he chooses to highlight as important contributors to Kansas City Chiefs’ victory. Doing so will contribute to his brand’s uniqueness while improving his personal reputation and trustworthiness.
Following the Super Bowl victory has brought significant income to Mahomes. It is estimated to be around $7 million in endorsement income alone (Soshnick). Mahomes’ perceived management of this sum is certain to affect his reputation and credibility, contributing to his personal brand. In particular, using it on charity will create a significant effect. The choice of charity is important for this, as well: the charity’s reputation will reflect on Mahomes’. Thus, a well-known and reputable charity will be beneficial, and the issues for which it advocates should correspond to the athlete’s values to preserve the consistency and candidness of his image. Conversely, donating to an unknown, questionable charity, or one that is involved in controversy can undermine Mahomes’ reputation and personal brand. Similarly, choosing a charity whose perceived values and advocated issues contradict those of Mahomes will have a negative effect on his candidness.
Mahomes’ charity foundation, 15 and the Mahomies, is of particular interest as a meaningful contributor to his personal brand. As the foundation is directly connected to Mahomes’ personal brand, the two share and amplify one another’s reputation. Similar to a personal brand, the foundation’s authenticity is an important contributing factor to its brand (Wymer and Akbar 512). Therefore, 15 and the Mahomies’ authenticity should be maintained and increased in the efforts to promote and expand the foundation.
As it is able to attract more interest and provide support to organizations, programs, and communities that need it effectively and transparently, 15 and the Mahomies’ reputation and brand will positively affect those of Mahomes. However, mistakes that lead to a negative reception of the foundation’s actions will, conversely, negatively affect Mahomes’ image. Therefore, any actions through the foundation should be carefully considered and weighted to avoid these negative outcomes.
The foundation’s messaging should be developed with a clearer, more detailed, mission statement and specific programs outlining the issues they are meant to target and their intended steps to resolving these issues. Furthermore, the foundation can build its reputation as a relevant and well-informed one by responding to current events in a timely manner. It has recently pledged to donate $100,000 towards “Kansas City public school lunch programs and organizations that provide meals and household goods to families in need” (@15andMahomies). This decision has garnered an overall positive response on Twitter, illustrating the reputation benefit of the chosen course of action.
The foundation’s pledge announcement also makes a direct reference to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As a global and current issue, the pandemic offers a critical opportunity to demonstrate the foundation’s relevance and capacity for beneficial action. As such, it is advisable for it to pivot towards this issue by creating a program that addresses it directly. Furthermore, maintaining a consistent schedule of updates regarding the foundation’s response would benefit the foundation’s image by presenting it as active. These updates should focus on the beneficial effects of the foundation’s actions and the specific consequences and changes that they create.
A specific recommendation to leverage the foundation’s charity response to the COVID-19 pandemic is collaboration with other organizations responding to it, including the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has recently created the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund (COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund). Donating to this fund is an obvious opportunity for Mahomes and the 15 and the Mahomies foundation to demonstrate that they are active, informed on current issues, and willing to help.
To benefit from the foundation’s brand, Mahomes should ensure to demonstrate his involvement with it. He should, if possible, participate in its efforts and charity work, personally attend the events that it organizes, and be otherwise maintain the visibility of this relation. As the foundation is currently relatively unknown on social media (19,909 followers on Twitter, 37,899 on Instagram), Mahomes’ involvement would initially garner interest in it. However, as it becomes more known for its work, it will attract followers and potential sponsors while simultaneously drawing attention to Mahomes’ person and reputation as a charitable individual.
Finally, it is crucial for Mahomes to use his athletic success to expand his personal brand and build his reputation quickly. The Super Bowl victory can only bring a short window of opportunity to do so (McDonald 249). Although maintaining consistency prevents him from making rapid changes to his public image, such a major achievement can be unique in his lifetime. Therefore, capitalizing on this opportunity is likely more important than maintaining current consistency.
Patrick Mahomes II is in a unique position to strengthen his personal brand following his recent performance in Super Bowl LIV. A comprehensive strategy that focuses on his unique personal qualities actions on and off-field can be created to facilitate this. This strategy would include developing a unique image that focuses on consistent and candid behavior. Specific actions toward a stronger personal brand include developing a targeted online presence and expanding his image with knowledge and positive social qualities. Furthermore, Mahomes’ charity foundation can be leveraged to improve his personal reputation, especially if it collaborates with others on current events. Finally, careful consideration should be taken to avoid engaging in controversial behavior as that can cause irreparable damage to the athlete’s brand.
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