Building an Authentic Brand in the Coaching Industry Pt.1

Your brand is your reputation, so it’s important to build it the right way.

Part 1: Branding Basics

Written By: Missy Mitchell-McBeth, MSEd, SCCC, CSCS, USAW

A few weeks ago, our sales team at Power Lift was in a meeting with a coach. Towards the end of the meeting, it came up that I was speaking at an upcoming conference on the topic of building a brand. The coach’s immediate response …

“That’s such an important topic. Why is it that as an industry we don’t feature great coaches just showing up to work and doing their job? Instead, we focus on these clowns on social media and it makes our industry worse.”

I couldn’t agree more.

However, like it or not, some of these clowns on social have a brand and that brand gives them a voice. Quite often the strength and conditioning industry is judged by the loudest, (and sometimes the dumbest) voices on social media rather than quality coaching.

So, in this post, I want to focus on how you, a highly qualified sports performance professional, can build a brand you’ll be proud of and one that makes the industry better.

What is a Brand?

First, let’s clarify what a brand is not:

●      a logo

●      a product

●      a color scheme

●      a slogan

Can these things aid with brand recognition? Of course! But they aren’t a brand.

A brand, according to branding expert Marty Neuemier, is simply defined as “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.”

It’s about perception.

Ultimately, your brand is your reputation, and whether you like it or not it is defined by other people.

You can’t control this, but you can certainly influence it.

Ask yourself: what do you want people to think and feel about you?

Answering this question can help your brand identity to take shape, which we will discuss further in Part 2. 


Why Should You Brand?

Let me start by offering reasons why you shouldn’t brand.


#1 You lack a resume on which to build a brand.

It really is this simple: if you’re prioritizing branding or self-promotion over your development as a coach, particularly in the early stages of your career, you’ve got your priorities wrong. While you might indeed be building a brand, it may not, however, be a brand that you want.

Focus first on building expertise before attempting to convey you have it.

With that out of the way, let’s revisit the section header: why should you brand?

Because, according to business author Dan Schawbel: “branding serves as your best protection against business factors you can’t control.” 

Put your hand in the air if you’re a strength coach who got fired because your team had a losing season and you’re the easiest scapegoat!

It happens.

We work in a volatile industry. Multi-year contracts are rare and tomorrow is not promised.

Having a personal brand could potentially be a lifeboat to your next position. Using that personal brand to generate revenue on the side can help safeguard you financially in the event of being shown the door by your current employer.

Even if this never happens, your needs and wants from a personal and professional standpoint will likely change over time. This may mean pursuing a new job or even a new career. A brand can help create these new opportunities because it clearly defines your value and expertise for others. Instead of being one of 50 applicants in a pile of resumes, you may instead find yourself recruited for a position. This may result in a position for which you are a better fit since the hiring party already knows what you are about and believes you could potentially be of value to them.

Or, your brand could result in your ability to become your own employer.

Ultimately with a strategic personal or business brand: it is better to have and not need, than need and not have.

But before rushing out to start building your brand, there are some things you need to consider.

Part 2, to be published in the coming weeks, will focus on the best and most reliable way to build your brand in the coaching industry.