Top tennis players and their personal brands around the world
Off the back of an epic final between Federer and Nadal at the Australian Open, I couldn’t help notice that Nike had centre stage when it came to brand exposure.

Off the back of an epic final between Federer and Nadal at the Australian Open, I couldn’t help notice that Nike had centre stage when it came to brand exposure. Emblazoned on both players headbands, Nike must have been celebrating that these two players had made what turned out to be one of the all-time best finals we have witnessed.

Nike brand exposure winner at Australian Open 2017

However, if you look closely you will see that as soon as the match was over, Nadal changed his shirt to one that included his personal brand. Nadal has a personal brand you might ask? Well, yes and so do a few others.

Rafael Nadal on brand at The Australian Open 2017

Can you guess who belongs to these logos?


Top tennis players and their personal branding

1. Roger Federer’s personal brand

Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer probably has the most recognisable personal brand logo on the tennis circuit or even amongst professional sports people. This is partly because it is so clean and simple and has his initials. The other reason is that it has been around for longer than any of the other logos and people from around the world have been buying apparel emblazoned with this symbol since 2006.

The first sighting of this logo was actually at Wimbledon in 2006 where he wore a white blazer with the logo embroidered in gold on the breast pocket, as he accepted the winners’ trophy. The RF logo is sophisticated and upmarket. It shows an elegance that is understated yet easily recognisable. Like Federer, this logo has an understated presence of strength and tradition. This logo is an excellent reflection of Federer’s inspiring, role-model personality and his gentlemanly behaviour.

2. Venus Williams’ personal brand

While sister Serena may have more on-court success, older sister Venus Williams has built herself a sports clothing empire through her brand EleVen. Although Venus doesn’t use this symbol as a personal brand, it is used within her EleVen brand and is a combination of her initials. Strong, simple, and iconic this logo represents Williams extremely well – who can easily be summed up as an overachiever – Athlete. Entrepreneur. Best-selling author. Olympic Gold medalist. Activist. Designer. Daughter. Sister. Champion.

Her brand stands for all of this and more… relentless work ethic, family values and self-worth, just to name a few. Whether she has her own personal brand logo or not, Venus Williams is a brand unto herself – as is sister Serena who doesn’t have a personal brand logo herself.

3. Rafael Nadal’s personal brand

Spanish born Rafael Nadal’s logo doesn’t include his initials but is rather a stylised version of a bull. The reference to this symbol comes from his nickname ‘Raging Bull’ which sums up his personality on court perfectly. The intensity, fist pumping and grunting all play a roll in Nadal’s brand, not to mention his superstitious nature and the (what some say) irritating routine he goes through before serving or receiving. The image of the bull resembles thunderbolts, another great example of Rafa’s style of play on the court. The challenge with this logo is that if you aren’t aware of his nickname, you’re unlikely to realise who the logo belongs to.

4. Novak Djokovic’s personal brand

Novak Djokovic’s roots are Serbian so it is no surprise that his personal brand is based on a combination of the Greek alphabet, medieval Serbian lettering and birds in flight representing dreams and freedom. It feels as though way too much is being crammed into this logo and if you don’t have the background story, you’re unlikely to know who it belongs to and why it has been created the way it has. Once you watch the video explanation, it all comes together beautifully and shows how much thought has gone into the creation of the symbol. The logo itself has a softer appeal than Nadal and Murray’s which is in line with Djokovic personality. There’s a lot of symbolism which reflects the deep thinking, spiritual nature of Djokovic who is a searcher and seeker of truth.

5. Andy Murray’s personal brand

Revealed at The Australian Open in 2015, Andy Murrays’ logo appeared on his court bag and training shirts. It was designed by Dan Calderwood from branding agency Aesop, who said: “We wanted to create a modern mark that captures Andy’s Scottish energy and spirit whilst subtly referencing his affinity with the number 77”.

The logo includes Murray’s initials along with the number ’77’, referencing the fact that Murray became the first British male to win Wimbledon for 77 years on the 7/7 when he defeated Novak Djokovic in 2013. Interestingly, it is also the name of the management company he set up following his second grand slam victory. Visually the logo is simple and strong – yet it verges on being a little too hard and standoffish. Perhaps this is Andy’s shy nature coming through, but I personally feel that it isn’t very approachable. On the other hand, it is extremely clever how they have merged his initials with the number 77 which is very much part of his personal brand story.

6. Maria Sharapova’s personal brand

Another female tennis player who has opted to brand a business rather than herself, is the Russian born blond bombshell, Maria Sharapova. She has put her name (or part of it) to her candy brand Sugarpova. Sugarpova is a premium candy line that reflects the fun, fashionable, sweet side of international tennis sensation Maria Sharapova. But don’t let all of this sugar fool you. Sharapova is a switched-on businesswoman who has goals and ambitions that extend past her success on the court. The Sugarpova logo is more of a reflection of the product brand than the highly determined, energetic and self-aware young woman who has cleverly leveraged off her good looks.

7. Agnieszka Radwanska’s personal brand

Agnieszka Radwanska was the only female tennis player that I could easily find to have a personal brand logo. Made up of diagonal lines that represent letters of her name, her logo usually always appears in colour – a vibrant red and a sky blue. This logo almost seems to rebel against the pretty player we see on court, who giggles and likes to wear cute dresses. The logo is hard and angular with bold colours. There is nothing soft and gentle about this symbol and from all reports Radwanska is hilariously funny with a bubbly personality. Although she doesn’t use her personal logo on the apparel connected to her, as many of the male players have done, she does have the start of the brand which comes through on her website.

It appears that the female players are a fair way behind the male tennis players when it comes to building a personal brand for themselves. Is this an ego thing, or just that the male players have had more support or advice from a business perspective and how to leverage off their positioning? Either way, I think that we will see more and more sporting personalities create their own personal brands to leverage off the lucrative active wear industry. I’d love to hear your opinions.

What is your Brand’s Personality? You can find out by playing our quiz here.

Written by branding specialist Debbie O’Connor
Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker

Written by our Creative Director & Branding Specialist Debbie O'Connor - Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker

Published: Jan 31st, 2017