The University of North Carolina football program recently launched its new branding initiative, Blueprint 919, to provide football student-athletes resources to understand and effectively navigate potential name, image and likeness opportunities that may arise in the future. To enhance this initiative, the program is excited to announce it is partnering with brand marketing consultant Jeremy Darlow to give student-athletes access to The DARLOW Rules, an online course dedicated to teaching college athletes how to develop and grow their personal brands.
“Personal branding is becoming a critical element of football programs around the country,” said Carolina head coach Mack Brown. “We’re always looking for ways to educate our young men so they can take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Our partnership with Jeremy Darlow, combined with what we’re already doing, will be of great benefit to our team and also sets us apart from programs we’re recruiting against. We’re thrilled to have Jeremy on board and look forward to watching our guys grow in this area as they navigate his online course.”
Darlow, the former director of marketing for Adidas football and baseball, is a brand marketing consultant and author who, over his career, has worked with athletes that include Aaron Rodgers, Kris Bryant, and Lionel Messi; and celebrities such as Kanye West and Snoop Dogg. He helps college athletic programs, coaches and athletes build and elevate their brands to elite levels.
“Today, more than at any other point in history, athletes have the opportunity to build personal brands that transcend the sports they play,” said Darlow. “Thanks to the exposure and influence offered by social media, these young men and women can now control their own brand destiny.”
The DARLOW Rules, will feature short, easy to understand video based lessons teaching athletes the fundamentals of brand development and communication.
By the end of the course, students will have built their own brand marketing plan, employing the same planning techniques used by Darlow over the course of his extensive career in sports marketing. Additionally, each graduating student will receive a certificate of completion to include on their professional resume.
“The goal is to teach athletes how to build personal brands that set them up for success in life, regardless of what happens in sports,” added Darlow. “Too often athletes are defined entirely by their athletic careers without developing influence in other areas of passion. My goal is to change that.”
Blueprint 919 combines both internal and external experts to develop and foster each individual’s personal brand. The branding program contained in Blueprint 919 seeks to help football student-athletes determine who they are, define their key traits, develop their image, recognize their target audiences, and maximize their external presence.
In addition to the partnership with Darlow, football student-athletes will continue to benefit from the athletics department’s relationship with content-sharing app INFLCR. Through the app, members of the program have access to dynamic content for use on their personal accounts.
Internally, members of the creative and branding team conduct group and individual tutorials on media training, public speaking and social media execution. Experts with decades of industry experience prepare football student-athletes to utilize both external media and social media to enhance their personal brand.
Media and public speaking training focuses on techniques to maximize interview opportunities, instruction on how to effectively communicate, and methods to transfer gained skills to all aspects of daily life including class presentations, networking opportunities and job interviews.
Social media education centers on assisting student-athletes with effectively using their profiles across multiple platforms, while developing an in-depth social-media plan. The program focuses on recognizing audiences, posting with a purpose, and defining ways to tell an individual’s personal story on and off the field. To meet that end, student-athletes have access to one of the finest creative services teams in the country, which is tasked with generating personalized graphic and video content. This content is designed and developed to assist in showcasing and enhancing each individual’s personal brand.
In addition to the internal and external expertise at football student-athletes’ disposal, the football program will continue to engage in a speaker series designed to give its members access to some of the nation’s top experts in the areas of media and branding. In just the last year, Carolina football student-athletes have received guidance from the likes of ESPN’s Maria Taylor and Booger McFarland; Charlotte Hornets President and Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield, who also was instrumental in the growth of Jordan Brand; and NFL great Peyton Manning.