J.T. Brown and the Power of Authentic Personal Brand Building
The most recent example of how important brand building is for athletes off the ice, field, or court and the immediate dividends paid when the playing days are over
Earlier this week, J.T. Brown announced via social media, that he is officially retired from playing professional hockey after seven years in the NHL. While his on-ice career is ending, his off-ice journey is just beginning, and it didn’t take him long to find his next role. The 30-year-old NHL veteran announced Monday that he will be joining the Seattle Kraken as the first television color analyst in franchise history.
“We are excited to welcome J.T. Brown to the Seattle Kraken. His experience as a player winning a National Championship with the University of Minnesota-Duluth and playing in the Stanley Cup Final for the Tampa Bay Lightning gives him unique insight into what it takes to compete night in and night out at the highest levels of hockey. Off the ice, J.T.’s values and dedication to the community reflect our own and we know he will be a great addition,” Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke said in a statement.
Who is J.T. Brown?
J.T. Brown attended the University of Minnesota Duluth when he won the Most Outstanding Player award at the 2011 Frozen Four National Championship after leading his team to a National Championship victory as a freshman. Undrafted, Brown was signed to a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning where he played from 2012-2018 and also played in a Stanley Cup. Brown was later signed by the Anaheim Ducks in early 2018 before making his way to his hometown of Minnesota, where he would sign to the Wild in July of 2018. Brown’s illustrious NHL career spanned from 2012-2019, playing in a total of 365 games (NHL.com).
Brown has also been a leader in diversity in the NHL. In 2017, he made headlines when he was the first NHL player to raise his fist during the national anthem to stand up to racial inequality. Brown also has donated his revenue from Twitch streaming to charitable organizations such as “Black Girl Hockey Club” and NHL’s “Hockey for Everyone” campaign (Sports Nation). Brown has shown time and time again that he is a leader in increasing diversity in hockey and making the sport more inclusive to everyone regardless of race or gender.
He is a great example of someone who authentically built his brand off the ice through things which is why it didn’t take long for Brown to find his next calling after hanging up the skates. Brown landed the role by building his brand off the ice through live streaming video games on the gaming platform Twitch. The thirty-year-old Brown became the first NHL player in history to become an official Twitch partner in 2017. Brown now has almost ten thousand followers on Twitch and has become one of the NHL’s most polarizing personalities through live streaming. Brown streams most nights on Twitch and mainly plays Call of Duty Warzone but has dabbled in other games as well.
Why it Matters?
J.T. Brown is the most recent model of how important brand building is for athletes off the ice, off the field, or off the court. He is somebody who has no experience in announcing but landed a professional television job from his brand partnership with Twitch where he showed the world his unique personality. Brown has been live streaming through Twitch for around five years and in those five years, his following has grown exponentially along with his brand. Many athletes have no idea what they are going to do after retirement. The only guarantee in sports is that everybody’s playing career will eventually end at some point. J.T. Brown should be an example for other professional athletes to maximize their branding efforts while they are still playing because you never know when your playing career will come to an end. Brown had options because when he was playing, he gained an audience by doing things off the ice such as his Twitch partnership which built up his brand which then led to his most recent endeavor after retirement. Building your brand as an athlete can lead to multiple opportunities and J.T. Brown is a perfect example of that.
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