Michael Jordan, also known as the greatest basketball player of all time, is worth $1.3 billion dollars as of this month. We have talked about players like Junior Bridgeman and Carmelo Anthony who put their wealth into investments and learned how to succeed in the business world. Jordan did that, too, but he took a different approach that built an empire on the accomplishments he already made.
Junior and Melo had to prove themselves a second time when they ventured off the court and into the boardroom. Jordan leveraged the success he already had and his great story to build a brand based on his name alone.
Michael Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Chicago Bulls and a few seasons with the Washington Wizards. He earned 5 MVPs, 10 All-NBA First Teams, 9 All-Defensive First Teams, 14 All-Star game appearances, 3 All-Star MVPs, and 10 scoring titles, in addition to being named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1988 and Greatest North American Athlete of the 20th Century by ESPN.
Nike released the first Air Jordan sneakers in 1985, one of the several major endorsements Jordan landed. He was a widely and effectively marketed basketball player and completely changed the endorsement game for athletes to come. The endorsements allowed him another source of income without having to learn another industry. All he had to do was be himself, an NBA superstar, to earn money.
Sadly, Michael Jordan’s father was murdered in 1992 when two men attempted to steal his luxury car. Jordan was deeply affected and announced a retirement from basketball soon after. He shocked the world when he entered minor league baseball instead.
Although Jordan was a good baseball player, he would never see similar success in the sport as he did in basketball. By 95, he was back in the NBA, amid no small amount of criticism.
A year later in 1996, Jordan starred as himself in the movie Space Jam. The plot of the movie involved an alien coming to Earth to kidnap the Looney Tunes, who challenge him to a game of high-stakes basketball. Jordan gets sucked (literally) into the Loony Tunes world after his basketball retirement and less than impressive baseball performance. This fictionalized version of Jordan’s own story gave him the chance to retell his brand story, something that had suffered after the tragic loss of his father. In the movie, Jordan tells his story of the hard work, disappointments, and setbacks he encountered on his rise to the top. His name became synonymous with achieving greatness through hard work and dedication.
Space Jam did very well and Jordan marketed his brand to an even wider audience, including a generation of kids who still have positive associations with Jordan and his brand (because the two are inseparable).
Michael Jordan retired again in 1999 and came back from ‘01-’03, retiring a third time. Many of the major endorsements he had during his time in the NBA continue to this day, including Nike’s extremely popular Air Jordans, Gatorade, Hanes, and Upper Deck. Even 15 years after his final exit from the NBA, his brand is still centered around his success in basketball.
Sometimes your fledgling company makes a mistake. You get some bad PR or disappoint a client. Whatever hit your brand has taken and whatever personal struggle hold you back can be overcome. Michael Jordan chose to focus on what he was good at while building his empire and completely changed the dialogue around his brand.
If you need to regroup and refocus after a disappointing company event, call us today for a free strategy session. You can schedule online too at Schedule Strategy Session. We can help you figure out where to go from here in order to take your business in the right direction!