Exploring Brand Identity Creation of Female Athletes: The Case of Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman
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In the context of human branding, athletes have become viable brands capable of providing empirical support for scholarly and industry endeavors. To add to our conceptual understanding of athlete branding and particularly in the context of female athletes, this qualitative case study investigated the brand identity creation and brand building strategies used by two female athletes, Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman, and their management teams to leverage their brand equity. Further, due to the gendered nature of sport, this case study assessed the perceived barriers female athletes face in the brand building process. Guided by brand identity theory and social role theory, interviews were conducted with Finch, Osterman, three female agents who manage female athletes’ brands, and four softball players from various levels of the softball community. Findings from this case study provide empirical support for using brand identity theory to assess the creation of an athlete’s brand identity and strategies for positioning, communicating, and leveraging the athlete’s brand. Themes shaping brand identity creation included identifying core values, brand personality, and brand associations. Brand building strategies included positioning the brand, communicating the brand’s message, leveraging the brand’s equity, creating a unique selling proposition (USP), and brand longevity. Additionally, barriers identified specific to female athletes’ branding included an athlete’s performance is only part of the package, ban bossy female athletes, lack of consistent visibility, lack of strong brand associations in women’s sports, lack of assistance or guidance in managing a female athlete’s brand, and breaking barriers included strategies for overcoming barriers. A discussion examining the two cases of Finch and Osterman in the broader context of athlete branding is provided with support from extant literature on brand identity and branding literature. Finally, the academic and practitioner implications of this case study are provided as well as the limitations of this case study and suggestions for future research and practice.
Lobpries, Jami Nicole (2014). Exploring Brand Identity Creation of Female Athletes: The Case of Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from