Branding Kevin Ware

I suppose this isn’t the moment to be thinking about Kevin Ware’s personal brand.

After his spectacular and horrifying injury at yesterday’s NCAA game, the Louisville basketball player should focus on his recovery. I’ve had a little experience with orthopedic injuries myself and can only imagine the road ahead. Physical therapy, it turns out, is slow and painful.

Still, it is hard not to consider Kevin Ware’s branding opportunity.

Everyone is talking about him today. The injury was astonishing; the video of it is shocking. People are discussing the game, of course. But the interesting moment, the scene that sticks, is the injury.

The situation is terrible but is also is a remarkable opportunity. With thought, Kevin Ware can build a strong brand; he can emerge from this as an inspirational person that people want to hear from, associate with and hire.

My advice to Mr. Ware is simple. Don’t miss the opportunity. If you play things correctly over the next few days you can set yourself up for many years to come.

In particular, he should do three things.

First, focus on the team. He is off to a great start. As Coach Rick Pitino said after the game, “It was very difficult to look at and watch. But he’s a brave young man, because all he kept saying was ‘Win the game.’” The more Kevin talks about supporting the team, the stronger his brand will become.

Second, associate with the right people. Kevin can meet with anyone he wants. I’m pretty confident Barack Obama would happily fly down to see him. So would Oprah and Tiger. Lindsey Vonn might provide advice on dealing with recovery from traumatic sports injuries. People are probably lining up. Kevin should think about who he meets with and when. Great brands tend to partner with great brands.

Third, keep the story going. The risk for Kevin is that later this week people will focus on other things. He has to think about opportunities to extend the attention. So he should space out the celebrity visits and let people know about the milestones on his recovery.

Mr. Ware might play basketball again. I hope he does. But his bigger opportunity is building a brand that he can count on for years to come.

5 Responses to “Branding Kevin Ware”

  1. Larry Robins Says:

    Focus on other things? Like his team playing in the Final Four, along with three other teams? Seems to me he risks backlash if he follows your advice, at least in the second half of this week.

  2. Melvin Bates Says:

    As an avid basketball fan who saw the game and injury, I think he was spot on. He first pointed out for Kevin to continue to focus on the team as he did right after his injury, as long as he does that I don’t see there being a problem with the other things. People want to talk to him, the cameras will be on him if he makes it to the game, stars are tweeting offering their assistance to him. He wasn’t a star player, now everyone knows him, this is his time in the spotlight. His career is possibly in jeopardy so I think it’s especially important to consider his brand. Hopefully he can come back and have a chance to play pro, but if not, with a well managed brand he could have a great future in motivational speaking, coaching or a variety of other positions if he meets the right people and keeps the story alive.

    Eric Legrand, was paralyzed in a Rutgers football game two years ago, vows that he will walk again. Because of his inspirational story, he now has an endorsement deal with Subway appearing in commercials. Although a hoax was later discovered, Manti Te’o initially used the death of loved ones to turn himself into a Heisman finalist. Unfortunate events can lead to opportunity. Hope he has a full recovery.

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