Leadership as a Part of the Brand Value Proposition
The arena is filled to the rafters, with the crowd buzzing in anticipation of the team running onto the court. The lights dim. Out from under the tunnel leading to the playing surface comes one of the game’s all-time greats. A legacy defined by grit, hustle, commitment, and…leadership.

Brands matter. Brand X or Starbucks? Coca-Cola’s brand value is estimated at $80 billion. A great brand is trusted and adds value to the consumer’s life. And you are a brand.
Personal branding is essential for athletes. The stage of sport provides a context only available to those few able to reach that level. A stage upon which an athlete can build a brand that will enhance their visibility, marketability, and influence. Being a good player isn’t good enough. If you want to impact and inspire others while you play and long after, think leadership. Leadership matters.
Changes in American society are affording more and more people the opportunity to use one’s brand equity to help others, promote viewpoints, and market products. A brand sends a message to the audience. It carries meaning and brings with it a set of associations. A great brand links emotionally with its customer and in some way makes their life better.
Athletes who have won championships know the value of an association with winning—the contribution such an accomplishment brings to one’s brand. Long after their playing days championship athletes are applauded for partaking in something the sports audience uses to define athletes—winning. 
Leadership might just be the second most important brand attribute to winning. Legendary athletes such as Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Michele Smith, Julie Foudy, Lisa Leslie, and Joe Torre have “leader” embedded into their brand value proposition. These leaders have the luxury of bringing the exclusive message of leadership with them into every interaction with the public. They’ve reached a different level of awareness largely because they’ve lived up to a higher level of contribution than their contemporaries. Because of their personal brand they are able to sustain their visibility and extend their celebrity life cycle. As a result, they are able to achieve more influence in whatever they do.  
What Makes You Different?
What does it take to stand out as a leader? Step number one: learn about leadership. The starting point is to develop the mindset of a leader. Read books on leadership. Speak with and listen to leaders from various walks of life—not just athletics.  

Next, identify the qualities and characteristics that make you distinctive from your colleagues. What are you doing that will separate you from others in today’s image-intensive society. Review your affiliations. Are you affiliated with other leaders? Have you hitched your wagon to companies, products or services that are viewed as leaders? Leadership should percolate through everything you do.

Once you’ve constructed a leadership mindset begin working on developing your leadership skill set. Find ways to practice your leadership. Get outside your comfort zone and grow and develop your leadership skills and abilities.
Current NBA commentator and former player Jalen Rose has launched a charter school in Detroit called, what else, The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.
Jalen Rose has defined his brand with the promise of leadership. He’s established leadership as a part of his brand and this will certainly help him raise money and impact the lives of those that attend his school. People who didn’t listen to him before will listen to him now. He’s a leader.
It’s no secret, leadership is lacking in this country. We need leaders whom we trust and who can make a difference in people's everyday lives. Do a comparison between brand you and brand X—what distinguishable benefit do you bring to your customer or audience? Branding is essential. Bring the powerful message of leadership to your personal brand.